Don’t judge a book by its cover says our Fiction Editor, Shirley, in this week’s book review!
Win yourself a copy of the book by clicking the link at the end of this review, we have two to giveaway.
The cover of Dear Mrs Bird doesn’t really tell you an awful lot about the story which is a bit of a shame because I think it could easily be overlooked on the bookshelves. It doesn’t quite capture the absolute charm of what’s inside.
I know that a large part of my immense enjoyment of it came from the fact that it’s about the readers’ problem page of a women’s magazine in 1940. There’s much about the descriptions, the language, the tone that reminds me of my early days in journalism – though please note that that was decades later!
It begins in 1940. Emmy’s idly scanning the Situations Vacant in The Evening Chronicle and sees The Job For Her: Part-time junior required at Launceston Press.
Given her ambition to become a Lady War Correspondent…She dashes off a careful Letter of Application to Mrs Bird, as requested.
Fearsome agony aunt Henrietta Bird has fixed and old-fashioned ideas about how letters should be answered. For example, letters containing any Unpleasantness – I love the way Pearce uses capitals – go straight in the bin.
But Emmy has a softer heart, and can’t bear the sadness of women trying to come to terms with sending their children away for safety, or women In Trouble after getting involved with the Wrong Man. And to Emmy’s mind, helping them seems just as important a contribution to the War Effort…. So she secretly begins to write back to those readers who would otherwise be consigned to the bin.
Full of character
Emmy, her best friend, Bunty, and Mrs Bird herself are wonderful characters. Rich, warm, funny….I loved them. I admired their strength and chin-up attitude. Their staunch friendship even in the face of tragedy is a perfectly pitched counterpoint to the fun of the central narrative.
And I loved A.J. Pearce’s writing. It’s warm and humorous, and brilliantly engaging. The way she capitalises Moments of Importance captures that clipped, breathless, excitable way girls spoke back then.
I really hope Dear Mrs Bird has been picked up for a movie. It’ll be fabulous.