This charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about a young woman who longs to be a war correspondent and inadvertently becomes a secret advice columnist is “a jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People)—for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.
Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are doing their bit for the war effort and trying to stay cheerful, despite the German planes making their nightly raids. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance; but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, renowned advice columnist of Woman’s Friend magazine.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who many have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she begins to secretly write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
“Fans of Jojo Moyes will enjoy AJ Pearce’s debut, with its plucky female characters and fresh portrait of women’s lives in wartime Britain” (Library Journal)—a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times. “Headlined by its winning lead character, who always keeps carrying on, Pearce's novel is a delight” (Publishers Weekly). Irrepressibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs. Bird is “funny and poignant…about the strength of women and the importance of friendship” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With its theme of female empowerment, AJ Pearce's wickedly funny, moving debut strikes all the right chords. Set in World War II London, the novel follows Emmeline Lake, whose determined quest to advance beyond her dead-end job as typist for an imperious advice columnist is timely, relatable, and inspiring. The more we learn about the aspiring journalist and her hilarious friend Bunty, the more Dear Mrs. Bird feels like a charming ode to friendship.
Pearce's clever debut follows a plucky Londoner during the Blitz who dreams about becoming a war correspondent. When 22-year-old Emmeline Lake sees an ad for a "Junior" from the London Evening Chronicle's publisher in 1940, she believes this will be the start of her journalism career. Alas, the job entails assisting Henrietta Bird, the advice columnist in Women's Friend, a magazine dying off from fustiness. Henrietta is a literary Violet Crawley who won't answer letters involving any unpleasantness, which eliminates most everything pertinent. Emmy, however, fails to destroy unsuitable letters as instructed, instead answering them privately under Mrs. Bird's forged signature. Meanwhile, she and her best friend, Bunty, demonstrate resolve as bombs rain down night after night and Emmy's fianc informs her, via overseas telegram, that he is leaving her for a nurse. The novel has a wonderfully droll tone, a reminder of the exuberance of youth even under dire circumstances. Headlined by its winning lead character, who always keeps carrying on, Pearce's novel is a delight.
A Different Look at WWII
This is not a typical look at WWII but an interesting look at the lives of the everyday people, particularly the women in England and what they had to cope with during the war. I have a new respect for the women and the difficulties and loneliness they faced!