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Rachel-K
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Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Please feel free to use any or all of these questions as a jumping off point for discussion--and please feel free to post your own! Especially for the "Chapter" threads, please be conscious of spoilers!

 

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters?

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree?

 

What is Frankie's attitude about reporting the news? How does she see her role? How did Harriet see her role as a reporter? Did the two women have different attitudes toward what they were doing there?

 

What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?

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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

  As I said in my "First Impressions" post, the war is up close and personal to me because of the descriptions and characters that Sarah uses to tell her story. As I began reading, I hoped that none of the people I met would be killed in bombings, but, sadly we lost Harriet and Billy's mom. Then near the end of this week's reading, we lose Maggie to childbirth and find that Will is going to war. This story, like others, shows us that individuals suffered and died and we get to meet them.

 

Am I "listening to the radio" as Frankie relates her daily news. YES! I have been totally drawn into what it must have been like to sit by a radio waiting for the news, waiting to hear the reporter, waiting for some hope and truth. Frankie needs to close her eyes to tell her story, and I find myself wanting to do the same (but I can't read that way!). When I am reading, I find myself holding my breath and praying that the link will hold. Her storytelling is breathtaking. Not only did I cry when Billy went searching for his mother, but did so again when Frankie spoke the words. Listening rather than seeing or watching, requires the listener to pay attention and for the speaker to use all of their senses to pass along the true story. I have no doubts that we will hear many more great accounts from Frankie.

 

  One of my favorite passages is on page 67. "This is how a war knocks down the regular, steady life we set up against the wolf at the door. Because the wolf is not hunger, it is accident--the horrid, fatal mistake of turning left to go to the nearer tube station, rather than right to make the long way around." If Frankie had gone home.......

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

"War happens to people one by one." This statement by war correspondent Martha Gellhorn is a good introduction to the interwoven lives covered in the novel "The Postmistress," but while Gellhorn was praised as passionate in her advocacy, she was also criticized for it. I often wonder how "the greater good" and "the truth" can walk next to each other in reporting. Should covering the atrocities of war follow an agenda and if so, what agenda? Of course I am spoiled nowadays by women like Christian Amanpour who seems to have found the balance between reality and compassion.

 

An author of a fictional account, by choice of viewpoint, belongs to one side of a war. A reader, through previous experience, through location of birth, through loyalty, through conviction, might belong to the opposite side. When this happens, and though the war reported on might be a war of governments, of good vs. evil, of colonizer vs. inhabitant, of political or economical power play, the reader has to suspend his/her territorial intuition and established background.

 

I am German and I went to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in October of 2008 with just such an idea in my head. It was hard, at first, to view my own country's occupation history of this beautiful island close-up in bunkers, museums, personal accounts, and discussions. It was, I suppose, a lesson in humility. But it also was a reaffirmation of my belief in the basic necessity of global peace. It brought home the truth of Martha Gellhorn's words, "War happens to people one by one."

 

To answer one of the moderator's questions, "When does the impact of war begin to feel real to us as readers?" War has felt real to me since the age of four when my mother moved me from a northern German city that was bombed almost nightly, to my grandmother's house in the Black Forest. It is impossible to forget the sirens, the deprivation, the fear in the adults' faces.

 

War in "The Postmistress" feels real from page one when Frankie says: "But these days so many wars are being carried on in full view of all of us, and there is so much talk of pattern and intent (as if a war can be conducted like music), well, last night I couldn't help myself."

 

I imagine that I will have flashbacks as I go forward in reading. I imagine I will not always agree with myself; there will be internal battles. But for now, Sarah Blake has brought a smile to my face with one very short paragraph.

 

"Never mind, I thought. I am old. And tired of the terrible clarity of the young. And all of you are young these days."

 

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Fae-Kieran
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The one question you asked about when did the war start for us reading really struck me. When I read, As Im sure others also do, I Immerse myself in the storyline. At the Start of the book I most related to Emma. Like her, I once moved into a place where I was afraid I would never fit in. Where I would Never be a part of the community. Well, As I read threw the first chapters I quickly put myself in Frankies shoes because I matched her Personallity. The War started for me as a reader the Night Frankie had to sleep in the underground. It was a fantastic description, and I loved how it moved from her own thoughts to the Radio Broadcast. After reading that section, everything inside the book seemed far more real. And I felt fear for not only myself, but the characters in the book knowing that even though they were safe at home in America, the War was very real and very dangerous.

 

~Fae

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,843
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

The war feels real to each character as it effects them personally, Frankie when she sees Billy and looses Harriet and Emma when Will decides to go "over there". I think the other characters in the book experience it be seeing the news reels at the movie theater, hearing it on the radio, reading it in the newspapers etc.. Or like Otto knowing his wife is stuck there some where.

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? 

News reporters of the 40's had to show their listeners the importance of the news by the tone of their voice, the intonations, the drama because they had to rely on pictures in their heads unlike today everything is in living color.

 

What is Frankie's attitude about reporting the news? How does she see her role? How did Harriet see her role as a reporter? Did the two women have different attitudes toward what they were doing there?

Harriet and Frankie see themselves as pioneers in an unfriendly landscape and not just from the enemy. They both reported the news from a more human aspect then some of their male counterparts.

 

What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?

The town of Franklin is like any other in America before the war started for us, undecided and wary.

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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I think the impact of the war to me, as the reader, began with Frankie's participation at the Gunner's Battery as she observes the chaos of shelling and the return fire of the guns.  Prior mentions of the war just don't have the immediacy that is evident with the intensity of this scene.  It is at this moment that I feel Frankie has moved beyond observing and reporting to participating in the war.  To Emma the war becomes real when she hears Frankie's story of the orphaned boy.  She is ready to commit to the cause at that point.  Of course Harry feels the war much sooner as he asks Iris to lower the flag.  In this first section I think the war has not become real to Iris even though she has tacked up a map to track where the boys are (p. 44).  I still feel she is an observer to an external event.

 

The most moving moment to me is on page 66 when Billy runs up the stairs to his house and calls "Mum" with the faith that his mother will appear.  You know that Billy's loss is going to be more than we can begin to imagine as he finds himself facing the war as an orphan.

 

Harriet sees herself as a truth seeker, or an investigative reporter.  She is particularly intense about what is happening to the Jews and what is real about the rumors about the Nazi intentions.

Frankie's mission is to get to the heart of the story, which often centers on human interest.  She believes her former editor's advice to have a story that "hooks the throat of the world - not the lip."  I find the following description of Frankie by Harriet very puzzling - "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose." (p 31)  I'm not sure what that means and would like to hear what others think.

Jane M.
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Amanda-Louise
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (My thoughts)

Chapter 1

 

I'm having trouble getting to know the characters.  Perhaps I haven't anything in common with them?  I can't picture them at all clearly in my mind and they have not stuck with me once I put the book down.  The men all seem to be watching the women from a higher level - almost like I watch the antics of my pets.

 

Chapter 2

 

This did nothing to relieve my disappointment in the book.  I'm not overly keen on Frankie - I can't relate to her at all.  I'm also not feeling this is an original viewpoint of the war.  I'm going to persevere!

 

Chapter 3

 

I liked the picture of small town gossip.  I'm ~slightly~ curious about what happened to the doctor's father.  But, there really is yet to be a hook.  The only thing keeping me reading (when I still have The Woman in White, The Potato Peel Society & Half a Yellow Sun to read before the end of the month!) is the FL people and discussions!

 

Chapter 4

 

Okay - I'm hooked!!!  it took Frankie leaving the bar with that guy and then finding the boy to make her readable for me.  Prior to that - including her having drinks in the bar with her friends - I was finding her a complete turn-off.  I now read her and Emma as real, relatable people.  Iris slightly less so, but I do like her.

 

Chapter 5

 

When I first started this chapter, the introduction of still more potentially main characters (Jim Tom & Maggie) was incredibly frustrating for me!  I'm curious about what is happening with Frankie and Emma and, less so, Iris.  I don't feel I need any more people at this point!  Once I read a bit further I would saw the connection!

 

I could use a bit more delineation before scenes.  For example, on page 71 we are walking with Maggie and Will through a contraction.  The next sentence Iris is pulling down the flag.  As I read this I thought, "Oh, I thought her name was Maggie'.  Then it occurred to me that Maggie is in no position to pull down a flag, so I went back and read again and found that we had left the bedroom and were now in the post office.  It was annoying and disruptive to the flow.  Even an extra line between paragraphs would have been helpful.

 

Chapter 6

 

I really liked the way Harry and Iris come together after the movie.  It was so sweet - like high school.  That whole small town thing is bothersome to one who is not nosy.  Nosiness gets on my nerves, but it seems to be the wheel which turns small towns. 

 

Iris handed Harry the the certificate and although it later seemed like a prized possession (when He held it on his walk home) he kind of brushed it off at the time.  How did this make Iris feel?  She comes across as rather confident and self-assured, but she went to an awful lot of trouble to get that certificate for him to be kind of flip about it.

 

Chapter 7

 

The death of Maggie was a bit intense, particularly for someone who experienced the same post-partum complication.  Blake was certainly able to to paint a picture of desolation and despair and heartbreak.  The scene with Jim Tom standing in the doorway was just so sad.

 

Chapter 8

 

Essentially Will is running away.  Rather than face the issue (he could consult with the retired doctor to find out what he could have done differently to perhaps affect a positive outcome, or he could have taken further ob classes - not sure if any of this is feasible, just thoughts of mine) he is running from it.  To go to England is slightly less cowardly (does he think he will come back a hero?) than pulling up stakes and moving house to another small town in need of a doctor, but it's still running.  It also seems to be a self-fulfilling proficy.  He felt his father was a loser and was just waiting for the label to apply to him as well.

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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


Harriet also calls Frankie "cowboy" and somewhere she is said to be "coltish." Maybe Harriet, who is older and a "truth seeker" finds the young reporter just a bit on the wild side; a daring, adventurous young woman one could imagine in one of the Wild West films.
I find it interesting to speculate on author-specific language. Descriptions, metaphors, similes intrigue me, because, unless they are cliches, they indicate something of the author's thought process. And sometimes I have no idea what they are supposed to mean. For instance, on page 44: "Mrs. Cripps stood like a striped tent without an occasion, studying the scene before her." What does the simile mean? What does a tent without an occasion look like?
I found another one, this time though, I understand the intent/meaning, but not the connection. On page 46: "Like a stone tossed into a flock of birds, talk startled swiftly into flight whenever the new postmaster was mentioned. Here the stone and talk are compared, but a stone doesn't fly away, the birds do. And so I think the sentence should be something like, "Like a flock of birds into which a stone has been tossed, talk startled swiftly into flight......"
And here is one I really like and understand. On page 46: "That image, of course, disregarded the postmaster's lips, painted a good bold red, which alarmed some, until the temperature of those lips could be fully taken by the married women in town. Within days, however, it was clear they were nothing to worry over -- no more sinister than a channel marker at the mouth of a well-run harbor.

JaneM wrote:

Frankie's mission is to get to the heart of the story, which often centers on human interest.  She believes her former editor's advice to have a story that "hooks the throat of the world - not the lip."  I find the following description of Frankie by Harriet very puzzling - "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose." (p 31)  I'm not sure what that means and would like to hear what others think.


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CathyB
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others? For me, the war began to feel real during the air raid attack. Yes, I believe that I am listening to the broadcasts along with Emma and Will. I found the aftermath of the attack to have a greater impact on me than the other stories.


When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters? Emma – When will decides to go.

Will – Not sure that it is real for him. Yes, he knows that doctors are needed but, that is not his reason from volunteering. He is punishing himself and just wants to get away at the moment.

Frankie – from the start – more so when she is with the small gunnery group

Iris – from the start


How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Today, one cannot get away from the news. One has access 24/7. Every little known detail is made public and repeated ad nauseum. Today’s media are relentless (and not in a good way). In the 1940’s, censorship prevented the news media from disseminating information to the public. Relying exclusively on someone else’s descriptions as opposed to seeing it for oneself also changes ones experience. A picture is worth a thousand words. The listen has to trust more and the sounds of the reporters voice must convey all the emotion of being an eye witness.


Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree? Yes and no. If one is truly listening then yes; however, most people are apathetic about the things they cannot see and that do not directly affect them. People just tune out.


What is Frankie's attitude about reporting the news? How does she see her role? How did Harriet see her role as a reporter? Did the two women have different attitudes toward what they were doing there? They relay the news from a more human aspect than the matter of fact relay by the men. Frankie wants to do a good job and be accepted by the males in her profession. Harriet feels as though she has paved the way for the other women reporters.

 

What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war? The town is an isolated little hamlet, not really affected by the outside world. The town as a whole does not seem to be preparing for the war. Iris is preparing her map. The mechanic (I forget his name at the moment) is worried about an attack and wants the pole in front of the post office lowered. I question whether or not he is really concerned or is just using it as an excuse to talk to Iris.

 

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Lildove3
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

This book The Postmistress is very interesting. I don't usually read this kind of novel. The chapters 1-8 realyy bounce

back and fourth. Just when it felt like the storyline was dragging the suspense kicked in. It seemed for me the impact

of the war was when the doctor needed to leave after the death of the newborn and also when people were in an underground tunnel for protection.   The experience of the news via radio, the journalists really had to make it sound

very appealing otherwise I'm afraid the listners would have vanished, the difference with modern day news is they

can bring you the story half way cross the world via web cam, so the days of news radio and tv. news have come

a very long way. The war started feeling very real to the characters when the towns would get bombed, but that's from

a readers point of view.  I think the two women kind of had different kinds attitudes on what they weredoing there, but

at the same token they gave each other respect.

 

I don't feel they prepared very well for war.

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lmpmn
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Before I make any comments, which I'll do in a different post, I'd like to ask some questions.  I know we have some people who live in England and would know more about certain things, and we also have some people who have read extensively about this war.

 

1.  What are blackout curtains and what were they used for specifically?

 

2.  At the end of pg. 32 through to the top of pg. 33 it talks about some fake stories that were circulated about the Germans in the first World War.  Does anyone have any specific information about these stories?

 

3.  There are certain times during the book when we're learning about Frankie's world when she talks about slipping things by the censors.  One example is at the bottom of pg. 57.  I'm assuming there were certain things they were not allowed to talk about over the radio during wartime.  I was hoping someone could talk about that in depth because I find it very interesting that they would try to "slip" things by and how they would do that.  I mean they're on air live right?  They can't go back and edit the show.  Once it's said--it's out there.  Also who are the censors?  Who do they work for--the government or the radio company?

 

4.  Funny question:  On pg. 76-77 Iris is thinking to herself about her job, then the certificate lying in her drawer, then all of a sudden she's drawn back to a vision of her mother who she saw going down the hall with homemade douche in her hands.  What's up with that?  It seemed so random.  Any thoughts?

Happiness is a warm blanket!
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Bonnie824
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

My mother was a child in Edinburgh during the Blitz and I knew her stories about the bombing, the shelters, and being sent to the country. I did not realize that the huge majority of the bombs aimed and fell on London.

 

The story so far that touched me the most was the story of the German man Otto with his wife in a camp in France, writing her every day despite never getting a letter back.

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melisndav
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

For me - the impact of the war began when Frankie ended up in the funk holes as she called them and noticed Billy there without his mother.   

 

When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters?  Harry - the war feels real to him from the get go.  Iris - i believe that she feels that the war is not personally affecting her as she does not have any one over there or any children that may be sent over.  Emma - the war feels real once she hears the story about Billy and she feels that she has to do something.    Dr. Fitch - it is not until Maggie dies that he feels that he needs to do something to help with the war effort.

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Back then, everything was being censored by the Germans.  They wanted the Americans to think that they had everything under control and were taking care of the troublesome.  Nowadays, its a race to see what network or channel can get the news to you first - even without all of the facts. 

 

Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree?   No.

 

What is Frankie's attitude about reporting the news? Frankie wants to tell a story about the war is affecting people and to show the listeners heartfelt sincerity.  How does she see her role? As a storyteller.  How did Harriet see her role as a reporter? Harriet knows bad things are happening but she does not tell the news like it is, only what is told.  Did the two women have different attitudes toward what they were doing there?  Yes

 

What is the town of Franklin like? A busy seaside town.  How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?  The only person that seems to be be preparing for the war is Harry.

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emmagrace
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Frankie's broadcast tells us the stories behind the war. She tells these stories in a way that made me feel like I was there. She made me feel for these characters. The story that has moved me the most so far was the story of Billy's mothers death. I think the war starts to feel real when each character can hear Frankie's broadcast and also when the draft issue arises.

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starie_nite
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

"When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers?"

 

 

For me, the war begins to feel real from the start.  The largest impact, however, comes when Frankie is with the bombers in the trench.  I feel as though I need to protect my ears from the sound of the blasts.  Sarah Blake writes you into the scene with an almost scary accuracy.  I am generally the kind of reader who goes through a book quickly.  Sarah's book has slowed me down and makes me want to savor every experience along with her characters.  I am intrigued by their interactions and am very much looking forward to seeing where her writing takes me.

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emmagrace
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

melisndav wrote:


The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

For me - the impact of the war began when Frankie ended up in the funk holes as she called them and noticed Billy there without his mother.   

 

When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters?  Harry - the war feels real to him from the get go.  Iris - i believe that she feels that the war is not personally affecting her as she does not have any one over there or any children that may be sent over.  Emma - the war feels real once she hears the story about Billy and she feels that she has to do something.    Dr. Fitch - it is not until Maggie dies that he feels that he needs to do something to help with the war effort.

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Back then, everything was being censored by the Germans.  They wanted the Americans to think that they had everything under control and were taking care of the troublesome.  Nowadays, its a race to see what network or channel can get the news to you first - even without all of the facts. 

 

Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree?   No.

 

What is Frankie's attitude about reporting the news? Frankie wants to tell a story about the war is affecting people and to show the listeners heartfelt sincerity.  How does she see her role? As a storyteller.  How did Harriet see her role as a reporter? Harriet knows bad things are happening but she does not tell the news like it is, only what is told.  Did the two women have different attitudes toward what they were doing there?  Yes

 

What is the town of Franklin like? A busy seaside town.  How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?  The only person that seems to be be preparing for the war is Harry.


Harry does seem like the only person in Franklin that seems to be preparing for war. It seems like everyone else is to afraid to really even think about what could happen if the war came to them!
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CJINCA
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


JaneM wrote:

I find the following description of Frankie by Harriet very puzzling - "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose." (p 31)  I'm not sure what that means and would like to hear what others think.


I took this to mean, Harriet thought of Frankie as a strong, capable, independent woman who can make her own way in a man's world...maybe like Maria in UTUS?!

 

-- C.

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Sheltiemama
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎06-01-2009

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I think the war began to feel real to me as a reader when the two men were talking on the bus Emma took to town. One had a son who just came of age. His friend tells him that the government won't send him to fight, and the father tells him that yes, the government will.

 

Yes, I am listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will. My parents are 75, and my mother has told me about listening to the radio the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, so this makes me think of her. The story of Billy, the little boy coming home to find that his mother had been killed in the bombing the night before, has moved me the most. However, the descriptions of how the British went underground during the night and then came back up during the day and lived their lives as normally as the could also were touching. You find yourself trying to imagine yourself in the same situation and wondering how well you would cope.

 

When all people had was radio (and newspapers,) they had to use their imaginations to picture what was happening "over there," and it was up to the broadcasters to paint as accurate a picture as possible. I agree with Frankie, and she certainly feels the weight of that responsibility and tries to live up to it. Harriet was a little more jaded just because she was a little bit older, or at least that's the impression I got. Frankie knows what's happening, and she sees it as her duty to make Americans listening back home realize what's going on and what's coming. How powerless she must feel at times. I'm a journalist, which adds another layer to the story for me. And I got a kick of hearing how the reporters managed to get around the censors.

 

I think Franklin was like so many small towns across the country, its citizens hoping against hope that the war wouldn't touch them but feeling its shadow getting closer.

 

 

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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Re the post below, let me take a stab at some of these.

 

Black out curtains were required in many places to absolutely shut out any sign of the lights indoors from being seen outside during the night.   They made finding specific targets to bomb much more difficult.  Remember we didn't have smart bomb technology in those days and many pilots used physical landmarks to check their locations - a river, for instance.  So having absolute darkness below them made navigation difficult.

 

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember hearing stories about babies being bayoneted.  That's one kind of story that is used by both sides in a war to make the enemy seem less human, less like "us", someone we are justified in killing.  

 

Censors work for the government.  In London, they would have been concerned about anything being broadcast that might give eavesdropping Germans or sympatizers any concrete info about numbers of ships, troop movements, specific targets that might have been hit, anything that might be useful to the enemy.  "Loose lips sink ships" was the watchword and taken very seriously.   In France, they would have been working for the German occupying forces when Frankie was there.   They had the same concerns, in reverse, plus they were very intent on hiding the extent of their persecution of the Jews.    They were, for the most part, amazingly successful in that.  I suppose very few people could believe that the stories that leaked out could actually be true, that they weren't just more propaganda.   It seems that those who came upon the first death camps were stunned and horrified;  no one had any idea they would be walking into something like that.  .

 

In live radio, I think it was possible for broadcasters to try to 'slip' in some bit of information in a way that wouldn't be readily understandable to the censors, perhaps using words with double meanings, or a type of slang or sports terminology that the censor might not fully understand, but that the audience at home, hopefully, would.

 

I think the reference to the douche apparatus was meant to show the kinds of thought that might come to a spinster's mind when she thought about the sex act.    Iris had no casual lovers, and no passionate experience.  Her slight embarassment and the methodical way she visited the doctor made her think of the same traits in her mother, at one of the apparently very few times that she was ever faced with the possibility of her mother's sexuality. 

 

That's my take, anyway.   There are usually lots of insightful people on here, so maybe we'll hear some more enlightening thoughts.

 

All that being said, I have to add, too, that I have been loving this book, from the very first.    The characters are so well drawn, so believable.   After the war, when I was old enough to understand their stories, I knew people like these.   I knew Otto, with his tragic eyes and tattooed arm.   I knew the man who left his family to volunteer for the Air Force because he had to do something more meaningful in those terrible times.   I knew the mother who had no word of her son for many weeks and could only read and re-read his last letters.    This book captures them all, those who served, those who stayed behind and persevered and waited, those who bravely tried to tell us the truth.    This book should find a vast audience; it's a fabulous read.    

 


lmpmn wrote:

Before I make any comments, which I'll do in a different post, I'd like to ask some questions.  I know we have some people who live in England and would know more about certain things, and we also have some people who have read extensively about this war.

 

1.  What are blackout curtains and what were they used for specifically?

 

2.  At the end of pg. 32 through to the top of pg. 33 it talks about some fake stories that were circulated about the Germans in the first World War.  Does anyone have any specific information about these stories?

 

3.  There are certain times during the book when we're learning about Frankie's world when she talks about slipping things by the censors.  One example is at the bottom of pg. 57.  I'm assuming there were certain things they were not allowed to talk about over the radio during wartime.  I was hoping someone could talk about that in depth because I find it very interesting that they would try to "slip" things by and how they would do that.  I mean they're on air live right?  They can't go back and edit the show.  Once it's said--it's out there.  Also who are the censors?  Who do they work for--the government or the radio company?

 

4.  Funny question:  On pg. 76-77 Iris is thinking to herself about her job, then the certificate lying in her drawer, then all of a sudden she's drawn back to a vision of her mother who she saw going down the hall with homemade douche in her hands.  What's up with that?  It seemed so random.  Any thoughts?


 

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

[ Edited ]

 

I remember my mother making our blackout curtains!  They were made from a special heavyweight black material which was commissioned by the government at the beginning of the war. My mother made yellow cutouts of the sun, moon and stars to cheer ours up!  During the war it was an criminal offence not to block out the light from your windows because they could help bomber pilots to pinpoint targets and as many people did not have curtains at all (or only nets) and few curtains at the time blocked out light completely, blackout material was bought to make new curtains.   
There is no truth in the story of babies being bayoneted - it is one of those apocryphal stories of war, probably being told now about Americans bayonetting babies in Iran or Afghanistan, just as it was said about Napoleon's armies. However, many atrocities were committed by the Germans in pursuit of their 'master race' and there were acts of mass genocide long before there were concentration camps. As well as Jews, Communists, Socialists, Gipsies, Homosexuals and the Mentally Ill were targetted. There are a lot of graphic descriptions on the internet and for facts and figures Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution, recently recommended in Current Events, is worth reading.   (But let us not fool ourselves that there were no atrocities committed by the Allies in WWII - in war, truth is the first victim and victors write the history:smileysad:.)
Censorship by governments is a vital tool of war because it is important that the enemy does not find out certain things. It was used by governments then and is used by governments now - 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'. Propaganda was also a serious part of the war effort on both sides and there were broadcasters, like Lord Haw Haw, who were specifically engaged to put out 'misinformation'.  You can hear Lord Haw Haw here. The radio was a very important tool for governments during the war and broadcasters were encouraged by governments to insert propaganda material into their scripts, often using specially coded language.    Here is some information on the black propaganda used by the British. Another another important tool of propaganda were the posters which the government had displayed everywhere. I remember them very well, especially the ones about using food economically. Mars Bars, for instance, displayed a poster showing a bar cut into 7 pieces, one for each day of the week.  When sweets came off the ration the first thing I purchased was a whole Mars Bar!
Douches were commonly used after sex and to procure abortions in the early part of an unwanted pregnancy. Before the Pill this was one of the few 'contraceptives' available, though largely ineffective.  My mother had one, I had one.