Author: AJ Pearce
Publication Date: 10 April 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Picador for the opportunity to read “Dear Mrs Bird “ by A J Pearce.
This is the story of Emmeline Lake, Emmy to her friends.
The book is set in London in 1940, the war years. Bombs are dropping on London every night. Emmy volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Service doing her part for the war effort.
Emmy shares a flat with her best friend Bunty. She has dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. When she sees an ad for a job at The London Evening Chronicle she excitedly applies. In true Emmy fashion, she day dreams through the job interview. Emmy gets the job and to her surprise finds she is employed as a typist for Mrs Henrietta Bird. Mrs Bird is the “agony aunt” for the magazine Women’s Friend, a magazine for the modern lady.
Emmy’s job is to open and read the mail and sort the letters into 2 piles. The first pile is for acceptable letters that could be published. The other pile is for the unacceptable letters, which are to be cut up and put in the bin. The list of topics that will not be published or responded to was very extensive! Most of the readers letters ended up in the bin! That Mrs Bird and this section of the magazine was not moving with the times frustrated Emmy.
Emmy has a personal crisis of her own, where her friends and family support her. Emmy then realised that the women writing in to the magazine are clearly writing because they don’t have family or friends to discuss and ask advice about their problems. Emmy wants to help everyone.
So the fun begins, Emmy secretly writes back to the “unsuitable” letters pretending to be Mrs Bird.
Emmy is such a lovely character, spirited and gutsy. The book shows us the war years in London where lives can change in a flash. The “appropriate” women’s topics for 1940 are hilarious. It shows how difficult it was in 1940 for women to discuss their real problems. How far journalism of today has come! The book is easy to read.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it 4/5 stars.
This review was written by our Beauty and Lace Club Member, Anne Steer. Thank you Anne for sharing your thoughts with us.