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Choisya
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

[ Edited ]

 

Before our 'read', I spent a little time putting together some links about WWII London and of Cape Cod:-

Setting the scene for Frankie: 
 
St Pauls in the Blitz:
 
 
Slideshow of images from the Blitz
 
 
Air raid sirens and images:
 
 
(May be a spoiler.) A play about an Underground shelter using the broadcasts of Ed Murrow
 
 
 
Setting the scene for Iris, Harry and Emma:
 
Map of Cape Cod
 
 
 
Did our other characters live in these Cape Cod 'cottages':-
 
 
Provincetown - did Harry keep watch from the Town Hall here?
 
 
A nice slideshow of Truro, Cape Cod.
 
 
I was surprised to see Westminster Abbey described as 'medieval'.  Although it was founded in medieval times it was rebuilt by Henry III in 1245 and is generally considered one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. 
 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : For SunlitCloud.

[ Edited ]

For Sunltcloud who wrote:-

 

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."

 

How strange it is that you and I, of about the same age, who were on the opposite sides during the war, should end up here discussing this book!  I agree with all you wrote earlier, especially about the need for global peace, and I am thankful that my nation and yours (Germany) entered into a post-war union (the EEC) which has preserved peace for us since WWII.  Long may it remain so!  (I also hope that you are feeling better after your recent operation and that this reading will take your mind off any pain or discomfort you might be experiencing. A Hug from Choisya.)

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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

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

I'm early on in my reading and I have to say the war felt real to me from the first. When Emma Fitch first stepped into her new home and asked the doctor to leave the radio on I got a sinking feeling of "who's going to be killed in this war." I love the way Sarah Blake weaves the broadcasts in, she makes the war very real to the reader, if not all the characters.

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

I think that the war is real as soon as Frankie tells her stories.  As I said before we can see and hear the bombs falling and what it is like to live in a war toren society.  The air raids, going to the bunkers and just living every day as It was the last day.

Nogt real sure if everyone in the town of franklain was listening to the broadcasts but Emma and Will, with Harry or Henry was and actually wondering what it was like over there.  I got the impression that must people did not pay much attention to the broadcasts unl;ess they were involved which america was not at the time.  No one really cared about europe or what it was like over there and especially if I was jewish.  In a way we are the same now if it does not affect us personally we just go on with our life until it hits home.  The war in Iraq does not affect us unless I have aloved one over there,  i admit I do not

fixate on the war news daily.  Yes I feel bad for the bombs and all the innocent lives lost but I do not dwell on it.  In a sense the people of Franklain are the same.. They all make fun of Henry? and his searching for the u boats, he may be the only one who realized that we do not live in a shell but what affects the world also sffects us

I wonder what the people of Franklain would have felt if the war was made real for them like it is for us today .  I mean with the TV and visual aspects of he war, seeing the destruction up close.  Frankie does a excellant job as does the other broadcasters in visua;izing the bommbing and the bunkers for us and how pround the citizens were

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nfam
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (My thoughts)

I have to agree, the characters were hard to get involved with. The was isn't. The war is very close. Frankie's broadcasts and the scenes in London are terrific. The scenes in Massachusetts are not as clear. The characters aren't involved in the war in the same way the people living in London are. I get the impressions that they would rather forget about it.

 

Will's character bothered me. I felt that in spite of the terrible experience with Maggie, he was throwing up his home, his practice and his wife, too quickly. The motivation for such a drastic act wasn't there. I did wonder whether he wanted to get away from his wife. The scene where they are listening to the radio and the author says that Frankie's voice drew him like a siren's song was rather telling. However, I still felt that the motivation was strained.

 

 

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

Thanks for your thoughtful response and finding those words like coltish that continue the metaphor.  And I liked your other examples as well.  I think I can speak to the Mrs. Cripps  allusion.  In my mind I saw a largish woman, wearing a garishly striped dress, staring down at a scene that seemed not to need her in any way.  My mental image is of Coney Island when it is closed down and all there is are empty plastic bags and trash whirling around in the wind.  On a more personal level, when I was a child I went to Halloween as a popcorn bag.  They created a shoulder framework to square off the top and draped red and white striped fabric down into a box shape with popcorn strings dangling from the neckline.  As a chubby girl, I was mortified of how this all looked on me, and I can relate to how Mrs. Cripps must have looked!

 


Sunltcloud wrote:

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

As a reader of your posts, I would find it more helpful to understand your thoughts  if you expanded on your answers beyond Yes or No.  For example, I myself believe that the radio voice does carry the events straight into the American living rooms.  This was before the time of TV and people used the radio as a key source of news and entertainment.  The voice of the broadcaster was immediate and personal to the listener.  I compare this feeling to when I am listening to a Book on Tape or CD.  I am alone with the narrator, internalizing and having a very personal relationship with the reader and absorbing the narrative on possibly feeling even more connected to the plot and characters than when I read it on my own.  Can you tell me why you don't think the radio acted as a conduit of the events of the war?  Thanks.


melisndav wrote:

 

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.


 

Jane M.
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JaneM
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

A good comparison to Maria.  Thanks.

 


CJINCA wrote:

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.


 

Jane M.
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JaneM
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

Thanks to Choisya for all her links to pictures and videos.  I really liked the pictures of cottages on Cape Cod.  Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

Jane M.
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Kittysmom
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (My thoughts)

I totally agreed with just about everything you have said, I found the characters hard to get to know, and the being somewhere and all of a sudden being in an entirely different situation sort of confused me at times.

I did start to think the story was more about Frankie, Maggie and others than about Iris but I can now see the difference.

 

Amanda-Louise, you have reflected my feeling about the book very well.  I am enjoying feeling like I am back in the 1940's while not always being able to keep up with where we are in the story.

 

I also thought it was incredibly sad when Maggie died, and totally felt like I knew them all and felt their emotions.

 

I am looking forward to starting on the Winter part but will wait a few days to keep on track.

 

Thanks for your review, it was nice to see someone was feeling as I was!

Gail

"Open a book and the world is yours"
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Fozzie
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)-Iris' Thought

I was struck by what Iris says to Harry Vale on page 76, as he again brings up wanting to reduce the height of the flagpole, but Iris is waiting to hear from the post office inspector:

 

“We can’t allow ourselves to take things into our own hands like that.”

 

If we assume, based on the introduction, that Iris is the postmistress who will eventually not deliver the mail, I can’t help but wonder what makes her change her attitude.  Choosing not to deliver the mail is very much taking things into her own hands.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


Rachel-K 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?


 

The war felt real to me before I even picked up the book.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre and, as a result, I have read lots of books about World War II.  I have learned new things with each book I have read.  This book is no exception.

 

I think the epigraph sums up how I feel about reading historical ficiton books about World War II.  Through the stories of fictional characters, I have been able to experience the war from different locations, at different points during the war, and have been able to understand that the war affected each person differently.  I don't think there was anyone alive who it did not affect.  I was not alive during the war, but it has affected me through the stories I have read and heard.

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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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.


Frankie is not a regular gal living a normal life.  She is blazing new trails (you can groan at the pun) for women reporting on war.  Frankie wants to be where the action is.  She is in unchartered territory, where men fight to the death, trying to stake a claim for themselves, like the cowboys did while settling the West.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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reddrose
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (My thoughts)

I agree with the remarks made about chapeter 1.  It took a lot of pushing myself to get to Chapter 2. It seemed there was a lot of jumping around between the characters and other side people in the story. The two men on the bus when Emma was arriving to her new home. Once I was able to put each character in their correct catagory it did get easier to follow. As I move on into the chapers, some characters are more interesting than others. I was suprised by Frakie and the man outside the bar. Emma is a very needy character. For me she can only be taken in small doses.

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

[ Edited ]

One of the first instances when the war begins to feel real is when Murrow is instructing Frankie on how to discuss the war on the radio, and tells her not to be quite so descriptive as to say “the streets are rivers of blood” (pg 25). It’s as if they are too worried about making the war seem too real or too graphic to those in America, when perhaps they should have. Yet, even at this point it seems the war is not yet real to Frankie either. I think she views it as something that hasn’t touched her yet, even smiling at the “war weather.” She acts as if she remains invincible, and all the preparations and precautions she takes for the night bombing are simply a way of life; not actions that result from the reality of the war. She takes on the task of reporting on the Gunner’s Battery with a nonchalance, and naiveté of what to expect. It’s all quickly shattered when the soldiers started firing their anti-aircraft guns, and at this point, I believe the war starts to become real for Frankie. Yet she still maintains some of her naiveté as is evident when she returns to the station to report on her experience and simply says: “It’s mad…” and goes on to explain the experience with such zeal and excitement (39). What seals the deal is when she’s walking home from the bar and the German bombs start falling, forcing her to seek shelter underground. The next day, walking Billy home, she is forced to accept that the war is real, and that it has finally affected her, taking the life of her friend and flat-mate.

 

Certainly Frankie’s story about Billy is very heart wrenching, and grips the reader. This is when the war started to feel real for me. As for the other characters, it seems this is the point that some of the effects of the war sort of become real for Emma as well. Yet she is quickly able to forget about it, and doesn't put much stock into it until much later, when Will has signed on to help care for the wounded. Iris, on the other hand, seems to have recognized the severity and realness of the war when the government instated the draft. Yet for her, as most other Americans, the war was still something that happened across the ocean. Although “the boys” would eventually have to face the devastations, it still remained something that couldn’t touch an isolated America. The fact that she can’t consider Harry’s suggestions to shorten the flag pole is an indication of her belief that the war can’t touch U.S. soil. She simply can’t fathom the idea that German U-boats could turn up on the U.S. coast. This is further evidenced in the fact that the coast still hasn’t subscribed to the lights out, or blackout policy.  

 

~ Tara

 

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

I totally agree with you. Life is loss and war speeds that loss along. The deaths in the early chapters hit me especially hard because I didn't expect any of  them. Maggies's death apparently pushed Will into the war, at least on the surface. I  have a felling that Will was looking for a way to make up to the town for his father's failure. Losing Maggie in childbirth, which he felt should have been routine, destroyed that hope. I believe that he did love Emma, just not enough to do the hard work of Marriage and making a life. He did find out that there are no shortcuts to making a life.

 

I discovered that when you have to listen to something rather then read it or see it, you really "hear" it or in my case read it. I listen to audio books when  I drive and I really "read" these differently  than those books that I do read ! I remember listening to the news on the radio in the late 50's, I'm that old, and it was very different than watching what passes for news nowadays ! Listening to the radio with Iris took me back top those days. I  also held my breath during Frankies broadcasts ! Jane


DSaff wrote:

  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.......

 

 


 

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

Sarah's style brings us along side her characters in a way that's deeply satisfying as a reader.  I also agree with Sarah's introductory post that there are 'ghosts' of her story embedded in our daily lives right now. 

 

The main characters are unusually independent women for their time, but I love that about the story.  Each character in their own way are showing incredible courage and determination.  The image of Emma listening to Frankie's broadcast at her kitchen sink has stuck with me now for days.

 

I lalso ove the idea of the small town post office as a central setting for the book.  The Post Office once was an importance community gathering place - something that is disapearing in a time of e-mail instead of snail mail and on-line bill paying.

 

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maude40
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I love this quote on page 38 .

That was it , wasn't it? The nothing between. That scant air between the couple kissing this evening: their bodies leaning against each other before going underground was the same air between the gunners and the bombs, and it was the same air that carried her voice across the sea, on sound waves, to people listening in their chairs at home."

What  a great way to show  the unity between those at home and those fighting on the front. Yvonne

 

 

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maude40
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I loved this reference on page 46 on how we size people up that we're not sure of.

"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."

Yvonne