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Inspired Correspondent
libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008

Re: Characters

I would have to say that , at this time, Frankie is my favorite character.  She chose to go into a career which was male dominated and did what she had to do to be taken seriously.  Her decision to travel to London and be the voice that "brought the war home" was a brave one.  I think she shows great compassion for the people she sees everyday on the bombed out streets and in the shelters.  As hard as it must have been for her after finding out that Harriet had been killed in the bombing the night before, she went on the air and described in great detail what the aftermath of a night of bombing was like.  She was accomplished her mission, to give the people at home a real description of what the war was doing to other human beings.

As far as her "casual sex scene", I think this was a means of escape for her.  A way for her to block out the events of the war and not have to think about it, even if only for a short period of time.  Had she not been in London, during wartime, I don't think she would have been so causal with someone she did not even know.

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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Alnilan
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Characters

I do not think I have a favorite character, in fact I lean my preferences towards differents characters as the reading progresses. One of the many strenths of this book rests in the complexed personalities and their interactions. Iris treasures organization and the word of the law in mundane everyday affairs (the virginity is proved in a document); Emma wants emotional security and a place of her own ( spilling underware betrays lack od control); and finally Frankie is all about action here and now (the casual sex scene). Of course their backgrounds have a major impact in theirs decisions and actions.

As love goes, I feel Iris is a "matter of fact" lady, while Emma looks for the ideal eternal love and Frankie strikes me as daring and idealist.

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nlsamson
Posts: 104
Registered: ‎03-18-2009
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Re: Characters

Alnilan:

 

I agree completely, although I am loving Iris, I find that as I read along, I have differing opinions and feelings towards different characters.  I can say, though, so far, I have found no character that I don't like. (although our young doctor did upset me with his decision to leave the lovely Emma.) 

 

I am discovering, though, how little I really knew about WWII.  That could be my age (I hope)


Alnilan wrote:

I do not think I have a favorite character, in fact I lean my preferences towards differents characters as the reading progresses. One of the many strenths of this book rests in the complexed personalities and their interactions. Iris treasures organization and the word of the law in mundane everyday affairs (the virginity is proved in a document); Emma wants emotional security and a place of her own ( spilling underware betrays lack od control); and finally Frankie is all about action here and now (the casual sex scene). Of course their backgrounds have a major impact in theirs decisions and actions.

As love goes, I feel Iris is a "matter of fact" lady, while Emma looks for the ideal eternal love and Frankie strikes me as daring and idealist.


 

 

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" - unknown
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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Characters

 

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) 

 

 

 

Did folks find the doctor's decision to leave his new bride believable?  I found him the least convincing character and when the author killed him off quite early in the book, I thought perhaps the author found him unconvincing too?

 


nlsamson wrote:

Alnilan:

 

I agree completely, although I am loving Iris, I find that as I read along, I have differing opinions and feelings towards different characters.  I can say, though, so far, I have found no character that I don't like. (although our young doctor did upset me with his decision to leave the lovely Emma.) 

 

I am discovering, though, how little I really knew about WWII.  That could be my age (I hope)


Alnilan wrote:

I do not think I have a favorite character, in fact I lean my preferences towards differents characters as the reading progresses. One of the many strenths of this book rests in the complexed personalities and their interactions. Iris treasures organization and the word of the law in mundane everyday affairs (the virginity is proved in a document); Emma wants emotional security and a place of her own ( spilling underware betrays lack od control); and finally Frankie is all about action here and now (the casual sex scene). Of course their backgrounds have a major impact in theirs decisions and actions.

As love goes, I feel Iris is a "matter of fact" lady, while Emma looks for the ideal eternal love and Frankie strikes me as daring and idealist.


 


 

 

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grammydee
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎05-03-2009
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Re: Characters

Me too-but then, I'm old!

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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Re: Characters


Choisya wrote:

 

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) 

 

 

 

Did folks find the doctor's decision to leave his new bride believable?  I found him the least convincing character and when the author killed him off quite early in the book, I thought perhaps the author found him unconvincing too?

 


I didn't question his decision at all.   Although such precipitous decisions to join in the battle became more common for Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there have always been those who feel called to action - to get really involved in a cause, to "do more" or 'do my part'  before that cause is taken up popularly.   Maggie's death would have been all he needed to trigger his fear that he had been wrong to come back to the town where he would  be constantly doubting himself, (because he always believed others would be doubting him)  and take himself off to a larger arena where he could prove his worth. 

I don't think the author found him unconvincing;  his death serves a central purpose in the structure of the book;  it's the event around which much of the plot revolves, and 'brings home' the tragedy that Frankie is seeing in Europe. 

 

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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Characters

 

Pat Tillman leaving a million dollar NFL contract and a young wife behind to fight in Afganistan comes to mind.

BookWoman718 wrote:

Choisya wrote:

 

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) 

 

 

 

Did folks find the doctor's decision to leave his new bride believable?  I found him the least convincing character and when the author killed him off quite early in the book, I thought perhaps the author found him unconvincing too?

 


I didn't question his decision at all.   Although such precipitous decisions to join in the battle became more common for Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there have always been those who feel called to action - to get really involved in a cause, to "do more" or 'do my part'  before that cause is taken up popularly.   Maggie's death would have been all he needed to trigger his fear that he had been wrong to come back to the town where he would  be constantly doubting himself, (because he always believed others would be doubting him)  and take himself off to a larger arena where he could prove his worth. 

I don't think the author found him unconvincing;  his death serves a central purpose in the structure of the book;  it's the event around which much of the plot revolves, and 'brings home' the tragedy that Frankie is seeing in Europe. 

 


 

 

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BooksRPam
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎12-05-2008
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Re: Characters

So far Frankie is definitely my pick of characters who I least identify with.  She's in the thick of things and definitely not hiding herself from truth.  Iris and Emma and those not yet involved with the war, of course, don't realize still how untouched they are, so their innocence and aloofness from the horror overseas makes them less interesting.  I love to listen to Frankie's voice over the airwaves.  I can almost hear her voice, she has become so real to me.

 

Least fave character right now is Will.  The abruptness of his decision to bail as soon as Maggie's pregnancy went south really left me feeling cold and detached from him. 

Pam
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jb70
Posts: 179
Registered: ‎07-06-2009

Re: Characters

I almost think the three women are written so differently so that there is someone for all readers to relate to and a lot of it depends on where you are in your own life.  In college and my early 20's I think I would have identified more with Frankie - she went out in the world full of a feeling of wanting to do something important and to make something of herself, now in my 30's with children I relate more to Emma -not the new bride part but the settling down and making a home and a family for herself, while Iris had adhered to the rules and regulationsof the post office while waiting for her own chance to find love but at the same time she has already made a life for herself so she is now contemplating a change which happens to many of us as we get older and either children move out or the focus of our lives turns more to ourselves and less to the family unit as a whole.

 

On a sidenote, I wish I had noticed the Spoiler alert at the top of one of the posts (I was scanning through and skimming the posts for and didn't notice it) because now I know a detail I wish I didn't (I haven't read past the given portion, I was going to read the next section this weekend so I wouldn't give anything away in my posts).  This is only my opinion but I would prefer if the spoilers were kept in a separate post so that I had the choice of whether or not to open it to read them.  I know it is sometimes hard to keep with the schedule and this is the first time I am doing so, but I like to have the story unfold for me without knowing large details ahead of time. 

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Contributor
Alnilan
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Characters

There are several references to classic literature in the Postmistress: Emma is reading Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" during her trip to Franklin, her namesake, Emma, is "Mme Bovary" (by Flaubert) who also marries a small town doctor. Contrary to many of you, I think Bill is a compelling character, a tragic hero who wants to sacrifice himself so his father's and his own shortcomings are compensated. Bill reminds me of Tolstoy's Prince Andrei in "War and Peace", who had also left a pregnant wife to go to war and like Bill experienced an existential  epiphany.

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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Characters

 

What great observations Alnilan!  Although I have recently read both War and Peace and Madame Bovary here, I had not connected Bill with Prince Andrei or this Emma with that Emma. Thanks a lot for pointing out those similarities.  


Alnilan wrote:

There are several references to classic literature in the Postmistress: Emma is reading Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" during her trip to Franklin, her namesake, Emma, is "Mme Bovary" (by Flaubert) who also marries a small town doctor. Contrary to many of you, I think Bill is a compelling character, a tragic hero who wants to sacrifice himself so his father's and his own shortcomings are compensated. Bill reminds me of Tolstoy's Prince Andrei in "War and Peace", who had also left a pregnant wife to go to war and like Bill experienced an existential  epiphany.


 

 

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nicole21WA
Posts: 79
Registered: ‎03-22-2009
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Re: Characters

So far Emma is my favorite even though she was introduced reading Anna Karenina and that only reminded me that the book is still sitting on my shelf unread!  I can't really say why I'm drawn to her, I just am.  Maybe it's because she hasn't let past tragedies stop her from living.  I felt something for her when, upon hearing Frankie's report, she wanted to help the boy who lost his mother.  I expect Emma to do just fine on her own while Will is in London.  I do wish I knew more about Emma's life before marrying Will since they seem an odd couple to me.

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kitkat2230
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎09-02-2009
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Re: Characters

I think that the doctor's decision to leave his new bride is unbelieveable. When I found out that he was leaving her after being married such a short time, I was really mad. I couldn't believe he would do this, but I think he was running away from his guilt (thinking that it was his fault that he killed Maggie) and he didn't have any way of dealling with it besides going to London. I would have to say that he's my least favorite character beause of this. I really don't think that I have a favorite character, but do like the charaters in different ways.

 

Katie

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Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Characters

 


Rachel-K wrote:
 

 

We get a close look a the love lives of each of the women characters in the novel. What part does love play in the lives of Iris, Emma, and Frankie? How does each woman regard romantic  relationships, and how much importance do they each place on them?  We see Emma surprised by a reference to casual sex in Tolstoy. Were you surprised at all to find casual sex treated--so casually--in a novel set in the 40s?

 

Iris is older and sees love as comfort and companionship.  Emma is living a fairy-tale love and Frankie sees how fleeting life is and doesn't want to commit to love. Casual sex is all she comprehends right now since she knows that tomorrow she/her partner may be dead.

 

Why is the certificate of virginity so important to Iris? What does it tell us about her? What is Harry's response to it?

 

The certificate is important to Iris because it shows that she considers her virginity to be a gift to give to someone who is worthy of it.  It tells us that she does not believe that sex should be casual.  That it should be a one-time deal with the right person. Harry's response indicates the societal double standard that is still present.  But he also seems a little saddened that he can't offer the same to Iris.

 

Do you have a favorite character so far? Who, and why? Have any of the characters surprised you by the end of this first section?

 

I don't have a favorite at this point.  All of the women have their stong points and weaknesses and are equally interesting.


I have to say that doctor surprised me by leaving his wife at home.  It's as if he's running away and leaving her to defend him.

 

 

 Joanne

 


 

 

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jenniferu
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Registered: ‎07-16-2009
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Re: Characters

 

How do these characters' backgrounds shape our impressions of them and their actions in the story? Do you feel you have a deeper understanding of particular decisions they make?

 

Definitely understanding some of their history made some of the actions more understandable -- Will still living in the shadow of his parents and running away, for example.  The story was much richer for having the threads of an understanding into the characters and what contributed to shaping them into who they are during the writing of the book.

 

Iris thinks Emma is ashamed of exposing her underwear when her suitcase breaks open, but Emma says she's not the least bit ashamed. Why does Emma come close to tears in this scene?

 

For someone used to being invisible and not seen, this was an amazingly public way of being exposed.   For someone like Emma this kind of exposure would just make it all the harder to remain in that safe, unseen space.

We see Emma surprised by a reference to casual sex in Tolstoy. Were you surprised at all to find casual sex treated--so casually--in a novel set in the 40s?

 

I think with the war, something like casual sex takes on a different meaning in that time.  For Frankie to have sex with someone in public seems out of character for the time but it's also a true thing that can ground people for a moment and make things make sense during the time of complete insanity during the war.

 

Why is the certificate of virginity so important to Iris? What does it tell us about her? What is Harry's response to it?

 

Iris is a very structured, ordered person, needing everything to be run in a certain way so that things make sense and the universe makes sense.  Without this thought that all things are run and purposeful by those who know more than her, she would have a hard time functioning.   The certificate was her way of following the order of things and is what allowed her to move forward in her relationship with security.

 

Do you have a favorite character so far? Who, and why? Have any of the characters surprised you by the end of this first section?

 

 I like them all but have to say that Frankie stands out.  There's been some surprise with Will still living so much in the shadow of that past.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008
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Re: Characters

So far, I'm torn between Frankie and Emma for my favorite character.

I have a deep respect for Frankie, being in the middle of the war and reporting it with such heart. She wakes up every morning knowing she is in a war zone and is able to go about her day as normally as possible. She could have the opportunity to go back home and be safe, but she feels the need to be in London reporting the happenings of the war to her listeners.

I immediately fell in love with Emma. She has such a sweet nature and wants so badly to be the best wife she could to Will. I'm anxious to see how she does now that Will has left for London. When he went to deliver Maggie's baby, Emma seemed a little needy, not really wanting him to go and leave her alone. I'm not sure what will happen to her now that Will's gone and I hope that nothing happens to him when he's over there.

April
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emeraldisle
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎09-26-2008
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Re: Characters

I had the same reaction. I was surprised Frankie was so impulsive and "careless" (and would even mention it in those times). i thought she was smarter than that!

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Zeal
Posts: 258
Registered: ‎03-18-2009
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Re: Characters

My first favorite character was not a major character but a minor one...Harriet.  I was completely drawn to her after reading pg. 59.  Harriet states, "You know and I know these refugees are not Nazi spies,  And though we are still reporting them as 'refuges'--people washed out of their homes by the tide of war, and that kind of crap--they are Jews.  Being moved.  Being deported.  Being given twenty minutes from the time a knock comes on the door until they are herded down the street...What's happening to the Jews is getting buried in the middle of the newspapers.  It's being cast as a secondary story, that's all." 

 

Harriet, not only saw/knew the truth, but was willing to voice it and take action.  She was secretly compiling stories to prove this fact.  She had courage and determination to go beyond what was expected and allowed during this time of war and censorship of the press.  If she had lived, I believe she would have been successful in getting the "real" story out.  Harriet would not have rested until she revealed the deplorable treatment of the Jews.

 

Frankie has this same drive and determination.  With the death of her roommate, Harriet, Frankie will take up the torch and do all that she can to reveal the atrocities of this war.  The war has also now become personal to Frankie.  With the death of Billy's mother, Frankie reports a very emotional story of the night she spent in the shelter.  She has never and will never see the war or her role in it the same again. 

"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper
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debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
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Re: Characters

 


Choisya wrote:

 

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) 

 

 

 

Did folks find the doctor's decision to leave his new bride believable?  I found him the least convincing character and when the author killed him off quite early in the book, I thought perhaps the author found him unconvincing too?

 


nlsamson wrote:

Alnilan:

 

I agree completely, although I am loving Iris, I find that as I read along, I have differing opinions and feelings towards different characters.  I can say, though, so far, I have found no character that I don't like. (although our young doctor did upset me with his decision to leave the lovely Emma.) 

 

I am discovering, though, how little I really knew about WWII.  That could be my age (I hope)


Alnilan wrote:

I do not think I have a favorite character, in fact I lean my preferences towards differents characters as the reading progresses. One of the many strenths of this book rests in the complexed personalities and their interactions. Iris treasures organization and the word of the law in mundane everyday affairs (the virginity is proved in a document); Emma wants emotional security and a place of her own ( spilling underware betrays lack od control); and finally Frankie is all about action here and now (the casual sex scene). Of course their backgrounds have a major impact in theirs decisions and actions.

As love goes, I feel Iris is a "matter of fact" lady, while Emma looks for the ideal eternal love and Frankie strikes me as daring and idealist.


 


 

 


 

 

C,

I found it believable, because I that is what happened to many. Plus, he felt that he was a failure in the town and could redeem himself.

I think the point of killing him off was that death happens regardless of war. Though I'm still confused at some of Will's feelings that he was explaining to Frankie

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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Characters

[ Edited ]

 

Thanks Debs.  Do you think that many men would voluntarily leave a young bride to join another country's war? It was this which I found unbelievable.  Being drafted is another matter but Will chose to leave Emma soon after they were married even though their marriage did not appear to be failing in any way.  He could surely have redeemed himself by doing something difficult or dangerous in his own country so as not to be so far away from her?

 

 

C,

I found it believable, because I that is what happened to many. Plus, he felt that he was a failure in the town and could redeem himself.

I think the point of killing him off was that death happens regardless of war. Though I'm still confused at some of Will's feelings that he was explaining to Frankie


 


debbook wrote:

 


Choisya wrote:

 

(POSSIBLE SPOILER) 

 

 

 

Did folks find the doctor's decision to leave his new bride believable?  I found him the least convincing character and when the author killed him off quite early in the book, I thought perhaps the author found him unconvincing too?