“Dear Mrs. Bird” Highlights Life, Loss, and Love during the Blitz

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Dear Mrs. BirdIn Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce, Emmeline Lake wants nothing more than to become a Lady War Correspondent. And in 1940 London, there is no shortage of war for her to cover. However, when Emmeline answers an advertisement for a job with a magazine, she is surprised to learn the first day she shows up for work that the job is with Woman’s Friend and not with The London Evening Chronicle as she had thought. Her job turns out not even to involve writing or researching but sorting through the advice letters sent to the stern Henrietta Bird. Emmeline has been tasked with weeding out the “undesirable” letters and cutting them into pieces with scissors. Since the list of “undesirable” topics is longer than the list of desirable ones, Emmy is expected to cut up most of the letters.

However, the more letters Emmeline reads, the more she dreads having to cut them up. She finds herself identifying with the problems of the young women who write about love, loss, and fear amid war. So when Emmy reads a letter from a young woman that pulls especially at her heart, she can’t resist writing back to the correspondent, signing Mrs. Bird’s name to the letter. Gradually, Emmeline adds to the quantity of her private letters while in the meantime, she herself faces many similar challenges in life, love, and friendship during the war.

There has been a lot of resurgence of interest in World War II lately, and that has led to many recent historical fiction books being set in that era. Dear Mrs. Bird shows listeners the experience of civilians trying to soldier on in the midst of the chaos of the Blitz. The book demonstrates what it was like to be hit by bombs and face issues surrounding love in wartime. The letters sent to Mrs. Bird give listeners a first-hand account of people’s experiences. Though Dear Mrs. Bird is a fictional account, Pearce seems to have done plenty of research in order to give realistic portrayals. Further, it is just an enjoyable listening experience.

The audiobook of Dear Mrs. Bird is performed by Anna Popplewell. Using an educated British accent, Popplewell speaks with high energy, whether in excitement, terror, or grief. She does an especially memorable job when performing the role of the frequently belligerent Mrs. Bird. The advice columnist truly comes across as an overbearing, bitter woman.

Though I have listened recently to more powerful World War II historical fiction audiobooks, Dear Mrs. Bird will delight and keep listeners’ attention. I appreciated the unique angle of viewing life during the war through the lens of an advice column. I did feel that the audiobook ended with a mild cliffhanger. Readers of my reviews will know how much I hate cliffhangers, so I wish Dear Mrs. Bird had fully resolved all the issues rather than make us wait for book two to come out. However, this audiobook will bring pleasure to listeners. I give it four stars.

Visit AJ Pearce’s website at https://ajpearce.com/.

Check out her Twitter page at @ajpearcewrites

Visit Anna Popplewell’s Instagram page here.

Her Twitter page is at @1annapopplewell.

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