Literary love: book of the week




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Title: Dear Mrs. Bird Author: A.J. Pearce In London, 1940, Emmy Lake wants to do her bit for the war effort. While she has a job as an evening volunteer telephone operator, she dreams of a career as a war correspondent. When a newspaper needs a junior secretary, Emmy jumps to join. But not all is as it seems. To her (hilarious) dismay and bewilderment, her newspaper job is with their ladies’ magazine. She’s receiving and sorting letters for an advice column run by Mrs. Henrietta Bird. And our dear Mrs. Bird is an insensitive and judgmental writer who gladly shares her advice on rationing and women’s church group gossip, but won’t answer letters about grave issues, like domestic relationships, political opinions or the world war. But all these unanswered letters are from women facing impossible predicaments or heartache. They have nowhere else to turn. Emmy starts responding to them as Mrs. Bird. She gently tells them how to cope and have hope for better times. She risks her treasured future in journalism to answer another call to action caused by the war. Emmy is a quiet hero. I found myself devouring the chapters, hoping Emmy would get away with it. I was cheering for her and her new friendships with the other dynamite women in the story. And while I liked the many funny and light scenes of Emmy’s work and Mrs. Bird’s personality, I appreciated that her story did not gloss over the sad realities of war. I was with Emmy and her friends during sleepless nights in crowded shelters and when they navigate bombedout buildings, loss, uncertainty and exhaustion as the war expanded and intensified. Dear Mrs. Bird is a timely delight. Author A.J. Pearce has an energetic and upbeat style that encompasses meaningful themes of women’s independence and their courage to fight a war in their own ways. You’ll like it if you enjoyed The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen or The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes. Librarians at Halifax Public Libraries enjoy a good story and always have reading ideas to share. They’d love to get you set up with a free library card and help you find your perfect book, no matter your age or reading tastes. Visit to learn more.