Saturday, 29 December 2018

Dear Mrs Bird - A J Pearce

Emmie and Bunty are the closest of best friends.  They share a small flat at the top of Bunty's grandmother's house  in London.  The year is 1940 and Emmie wants to be a journalist, particularly a war correspondent - working as a typist for a solicitors' office is never going to get her anywhere, so when she sees an ad for a job in the very newspaper she reads it in, she applies immediately.  After a rather strange interview she is thrilled to be offered the job.  But she didn't ask any questions, and it turns out that the job is actually typing for the Agony Aunt (Mrs Bird) of a magazine in the same group as the newspaper, and with a very low circulation, things don't bode well.

But she makes new friends, and despite the fact that Mrs Bird should never have been given the job of agony aunt (she has a huge list of subjects that she will not discuss, will not answer letters containing, and will drop straight into the waste paper bin despite there being a stamped addressed envelope from the writer) Emmie begins to think that she could help some of those women who have written.

Between her job at the magazine, and her three nights a week on the switchboard of the local fire station, Emmie and friend Bunty have time to discuss Bloomin' Hitler; go dancing; put the world to rights, and from time to time spend the night in a nearby bomb shelter.  But things are going to change.  This is wartime and some of the things they experience are, well, not very nice and hard to deal with.  Bunty is in love with a local fireman who risks his life every night attempting the put out the fires and rescue people from under the rubble of bombed out building whilst Emmie has just been "let down". But life must go on.  Tragedy will rear it's  head as it must, but as the book changes from light-hearted to heartbreaking, Emmie will do her best - after all, there's a war on.  This is the author's first book.  I'd like to read more!  Recommended.