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nicole21WA
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)


dg wrote:

I didn't necessarily feel that it was Iris' job to deliver the letter.  I think when the letter was given to her it was as a friend more than as a postmistress.  Giving a letter to a postal worker and asking them to deliver it only under certain circumstances is, I'm sure, not one of the "rules" that Iris was used to following in the post office.  I think it was a request made by someone who felt that Iris was a friend who would not just deliver the letter but who would care for the person who was receiving the news.  I don't believe that to be an expected part of a postal worker's job.


 

I think this is a reasonable argument regarding Will's letter.  However, Will's landlady had no such agreement with Iris.  She sent the letter with the expectation that it would be delivered to Emma promptly.  She had no idea it would fall into the hands of the nosy postmaster and never reach the intended recipient.

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Peppermill
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

[ Edited ]

 


nicole21WA wrote:

dg wrote:

I didn't necessarily feel that it was Iris' job to deliver the letter.  I think when the letter was given to her it was as a friend more than as a postmistress.  Giving a letter to a postal worker and asking them to deliver it only under certain circumstances is, I'm sure, not one of the "rules" that Iris was used to following in the post office.  I think it was a request made by someone who felt that Iris was a friend who would not just deliver the letter but who would care for the person who was receiving the news.  I don't believe that to be an expected part of a postal worker's job.


 

I think this is a reasonable argument regarding Will's letter.  However, Will's landlady had no such agreement with Iris.  She sent the letter with the expectation that it would be delivered to Emma promptly.  She had no idea it would fall into the hands of the nosy postmaster and never reach the intended recipient.


 

 

But, hadn't Iris gotten herself in a bind by accepting Will's letter and agreeing to keep an eye on Emma?  If she had delivered the letter, should she have continued to hold on to the letter Will had given her if/when she realized the contents of the landlady's letter from things Emma revealed?  Or should she have given it to Emma at that time?

 

Iris didn't come across to me as a terribly "nosy" character, as certainly a small town postmaster could be, although she did cross the line insofar as Emma was concerned -- rather like a parent opening a child's mail?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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mv5ocean
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)


Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions as a jumping off point to discuss the end of The Postmistress. Please remember that all spoilers are welcome in this thread!

 

"Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out? Although I don't think you can ever get the real story without the experience itself, I do think this book was a reminder that sometimes we listen but we don't really hear what is being said.

 

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail? At first I thought both Frankie and Iris were in the wrong for withholding information and I still feel that way somewhat, although I think after Iris shared it was best for Frankie to continue her silence.

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately? Iris definitely should have delivered the letter immediately by all means. When Emma was not aware the only thing she gained from that was one more day of hope.

 

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why? I was definitely most surprised by Iris and her decision not to deliver the letter.

 

The novel deals with the last summer of "innocence" for the United States before it was drawn into the war, before many American's wanted to be involved, and before the US was attacked you see any modern day parallels? Most definitely, we are the same today. It's on the news every day, we listen to it every day, yet we don't hear what they are sharing.

 

 


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Choisya
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 

I see Iris as the impersonation of the German masses who did not question authority. Frankie is the rest of the world, waking up to the ever-growing danger. Emma is the bystander as victim. Otto is the hunted. Harry and Will are the ones who looked in the wrong direction, sidetracked by a vision. In Harry's case a U-boat. In Will's case a woman who looks like Emma and carries a child. One sees war in the tranquility of a harbor scene and the other sees tranquility where there is war.
Brilliant analysis Sunltcloud!  I would like to see Sarah's comment on this.


skiibunny1213 wrote:

 

Sunltcloud - you always have a way of clearing things up for me when I am not seeing the bigger picture... I am so glad you are in these First Look groups... thank you!!

Sunltcloud wrote:

 

War does call the shots. How nations deal with its fury becomes the theme; how individual characters adapt to its demands remains the question mark in every story.
The emphasis in this case is not on Emma, though the other two women claim concern for and consideration of the "poor pregnant widow," the emphasis is on the character development of Iris and Frankie. A story needs character development to move forward; had they stayed true to the way they were originally portrayed the story would be boring. And since there are two parallel stories (war and non-war ) there had to be two letters and two opposing character shifts. Since Frankie is the one who witnesses the war, she had to bring it to town, but she also had to show greater understanding (positive character shift) to bring awareness to the town.
I see Iris as the impersonation of the German masses who did not question authority. Frankie is the rest of the world, waking up to the ever-growing danger. Emma is the bystander as victim. Otto is the hunted. Harry and Will are the ones who looked in the wrong direction, sidetracked by a vision. In Harry's case a U-boat. In Will's case a woman who looks like Emma and carries a child. One sees war in the tranquility of a harbor scene and the other sees tranquility where there is war.

nfam wrote:

I found the letters very confusing. Why didn't Iris deliver the letter? It didn't seem a kindness to keep Emma in suspense. I thought the rationale was poor. I also didn't understand why Frankie had such a hard time delivering the letter, although it made more sense than Iris withholding the first letter. Because of the confusion around the letters, I thought the ending of the book was very weak. The buildup throughout the story made the letters seems very important, but in the end, as in the beginning, the war was the major character and called the shots. 


 

 


 

 


 

 

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letsread2SC
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

I think that "The Postmistress" showed Frankie attempting to get the story out to the air waves, but to get out safely, she had to leave many stories without an ending. I like the way Ms. Blake left us wanting to know the end of the story of the refugee's plight. The story also became a part of her as she traveled to Franklin and became a part of Iris and Emma's story.

 

It seemed like Emma's wall of self protection may have prevented Frankie from carrying through with her plan to deliver Will's letter. In a way, it seemed like Frankie failed, but she also had compassion to not force the issue with Emma's fragile state. 

 

A few places had Emma perceiving herself as "invisible" or "beginning to disappear."  Iris may have seen that Will's daily letters became Emma's lifeline. When they stopped arriving, Iris may have thought that delivering Will's letter may have been too cruel.

 

Otto made a decision not to "tell anybody anything anymore" because "they don't understand who you are."

 

Iris  surprised me most. She seemed so detached, just doing her job in a clinical order. Interesting character, but I never warmed to her.

 

I think that the modern day parallels in The Postmistress might be that like some of the Americans didn't believe that they were in any danger. It wasn't human nature, just the American nature of the period, too far from the war. With war splashed minute by minute in the media and on the internet, we can't ignore the danger and worldwide implications. 

 

 

Sharon

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T-Mo
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Re: Last Chapters

Carole, 

 

I completely agree. I was so disappointed with this book. There are so many things included within the book that have no actual bearing on the story itself. In the end it was all still just very disjointed. I was also very unhappy with the fact that Harry died. 

 

 


Wilson54 wrote:

I was very sad at the end of the book.  I felt as though the end had nothing to do with the rest of the book.

 

I felt the characters did not stay true to themselves.

Frankie could have demonstrated her new found humanity by sharing her experience of Will's last evening in the shelter.

Iris was way out of character by opening the letter.

And, why did Harry have to die?

 


 

 

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maryfrancesa
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

In the beginning I would have agreed that Emma was fragile but I think that as time went on and she found herself she became stronger.  Maybe it coincided with her being pregnant and that she had to be strong for the baby and Will. 

 

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Lil_Irish_Lass
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

The ending was the straw that broke the Camel's back for me with this novel. It read as if it was sloppily thrown together without any regard for the build up of the characters prior. None of them acted "as they should have" and there was no resolution to any of the story within the story that had been gaining momentum.

For me an ending can make or break a book and this one was horrid.

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Peppermill
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

[ Edited ]

 


Lil_Irish_Lass wrote:

The ending was the straw that broke the Camel's back for me with this novel. It read as if it was sloppily thrown together without any regard for the build up of the characters prior. None of them acted "as they should have" and there was no resolution to any of the story within the story that had been gaining momentum.

For me an ending can make or break a book and this one was horrid.


 

 

Lil_Irish_Lass -- No passion in this response!  :smileyvery-happy:

 

So, putting the emotion on hold for a few minutes, or giving it expression, tell us what makes this ending any more "horrid", either in and of itself or than, say, Eliot's ending of The Mill on the Floss or any other  tragic unexpected ending.

 

Pepper

 

PS -- It wasn't the happy ending I wanted and it did surprise me. I also had none of Sarah's sense that Iris would feel she "deserved" this after her transgressions (at least that's the way I recall a comment of Ms. Blake's; I haven't gone and checked on myself).  It  just "was" for me, perhaps somewhat more like life itself than plotted novels sometimes are.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Lil_Irish_Lass
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)


Peppermill wrote:

 


Lil_Irish_Lass wrote:

The ending was the straw that broke the Camel's back for me with this novel. It read as if it was sloppily thrown together without any regard for the build up of the characters prior. None of them acted "as they should have" and there was no resolution to any of the story within the story that had been gaining momentum.

For me an ending can make or break a book and this one was horrid.


 

 

Lil_Irish_Lass -- No passion in this response!  :smileyvery-happy:

 

So, putting the emotion on hold for a few minutes, or giving it expression, tell us what makes this ending any more "horrid", either in and of itself or than, say, Eliot's ending of The Mill on the Floss or any other  tragic unexpected ending.

 

Pepper

 

PS -- It wasn't the happy ending I wanted and it did surprise me. I also had none of Sarah's sense that Iris would feel she "deserved" this after her transgressions (at least that's the way I recall a comment of Ms. Blake's; I haven't gone and checked on myself).  It  just "was" for me, perhaps somewhat more like life itself than plotted novels sometimes are.


 

I love a good tragic ending, but this one wasn't even tragic. Harry saw the U-boat, he rang the bell with warning, and died without cause. To me it read like a paint by numbers outline "oh since this is a novel written around a war we haven't had anyone die in awhile I should kill someone off in the end, let's pick.... him".

The story dragged on for hundreds of pages and the last 20 read as if they were slapped together quickly to get under the maximum page requirement of a college essay. Anyone who has had to write an essay/research paper for a teacher who specifically said they'd only read 10 pages because that was the page limit for the assignment, anything over would just be tossed in the bin knows what I mean.

Frankie's purpose in the end was nothing... she accomplished nothing leaving the war to come back to the states to deliver a letter to Emma that she'll never see nor will Frankie ever tell her about Will's final moments.

While I don't deny that Iris loved Harry and that she's in mourning throughout the entire novel she's pegged as the strong female who watches over the town, her actions after Harry's funeral don't jive with the rest of the novel up to that point. And neither does her opening the landlady's email and reading it... I feel like that was thrown in in an attempt to stir up some drama.

Again, I didn't hate the book nor do I regret reading it. I just feel like it needs a lot of work before it hits book shelves - while reading it I felt like I was reading an early draft that was coming along nicely but still needed to be tweaked and worked on. But a lot of people on here seemed to love it so perhaps I'm in the minority. The genre is one I enjoy and I read a fair amount of books centered around WWI and WWII, to me it was the writing style and lack of plot execution that turned me off in the end.

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DarcyO
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

"Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out?

 

How can you not be affected by those events? While reporting should be objective, you can't discount human emotions. When Frankie was riding the trains, she became part of the story. She was actually lucky to get out alive.  

 

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose job was to deliver news, did she fail?

 

I think her meeting and the subsequent death of Will really made Frankie think about her place in life. Not so much right away, but after she had been on the train rides. If she hadn't been given the assignment to go to Germany and France, she may have had the time to mail the letter to Emma. Yes, she failed to deliver the news to Emma, but she succeeded in obtaining news of refugees.  

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

 

Boy, it's hard to say. I think Iris was looking after Emma and wanted to protect her. Since she wasn't certain Will was dead, she thought she was shielding Emma from being worried and hurt over something she had no control over. But Emma already knew in her heart that Will was dead. She was strong enough to continue on and I think if Iris had delivered the letter she would have been strong enough to have dealt with it. I'm not sure that Emma lost anything, because the letter writer didn't know if Will had died either.  

 

Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish? Would you have?

 

Well, Jews were treated so badly in Austria and Germany he probably felt he would be better off keeping it a secret. I think I would have kept it a secret too. 

 

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why?

 

Iris, I guess, surprised me when she steamed open Emma's letter. Will had asked her to watch over Emma, but she took her job as postmaster so seriously that I was surprised at that.  

 

The novel deals with the last summer of "innocence" for the United States before it was drawn into the war, before many American's wanted to be involved, and before the US was attacked you see any modern day parallels? 

 

Well, sure, we all want to enjoy the good life, but there is always a price to be paid. We stick our heads in the sand and don't know what's going on until it's too late. History repeats itself.

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boadiccea
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 


"Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out?

 

Oh, yes, definitely, to both.  Frankie was entering the situation thinking things would be one way, but reading her experience through the lens of The Postmistress, it immediately became apparent that she may not succeed, that she may be detained, that she may be beaten, interrogated, or killed by the enemy, that she may never get out, that she is constantly in danger, and I think we the readers knew the gravity of the danger she was in moreso than Frankie did. It was a bit of a nail-biter, as I was reading, wondering if Frankie would succeed in getting the story (I doubted she'd get the whole story. The whole story is WAY too big!), and wondering if she'd die trying or ever get back to London and/or the US.

 

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail?

 

"Delivering the news" to the public at large about world events that apply to only some of them, and delivering personal, sad, and very relevant news to a single human being who will have reason to grieve upon hearing that news are two very different things.  Especially when you consider Frankie didn't know Emma, she barely knew Will.  She spent a few hours in a shelter with him, watched him die horribly, had the experience of being covered in his blood, and I cannot blame her for having difficulty with giving Emma the very final, very sad, and probably from Emma's POV, inevitable news that Will had died.  (I say "inevitable" due to the fact that she stopped receiving letters from him.  She knew deep down already.)  I also think Frankie felt like an intruder, thrown into Emma's world by a freak coincidence of a meeting in a shelter and witnessing a death.  No one wants to hear a complete stranger, some woman whose voice you'd heard on the radio, tell you that your husband is dead.  I'm sure Frankie wished the news would have come officially, and indeed, initially assumed that it had, it must have, since so much time had passed.  Frankie could not have guessed that there was a mix-up in identifying Will and the officials didn't report his death timely.  By the time she got there and realized Emma didn't know, she felt that much worse about being the bearer of that news.

 

I think for Frankie the grief was palpable, too, and that is perhaps why she couldn't let go of the letter she carried.  It would bring the experience full-circle.  I feel she had PTSD and was hanging on to the letter not only out of a fear of bringing the news to Emma and what that would mean to Emma, but what it would mean to her as well.

 

When we are traumatized we do not act rationally or well, sometimes.  Her reactions seem perfectly normal to me, and I would not characterize her as a failure.

 

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

 

 

I think it's hard to say "I would have done such and such" because we can't possibly know what it's like to be in someone's shoes til we really ARE in them, right?  But given that, I probably would have given it to her sooner.  Emma did come into herself some more, got less dependent, made a few friends (a process which I suspect came more to pass as she DID learn the news).  She did lose something, though ... even before she got the news, she lost her husband.  Really, she lost him before he died.  But she KNEW.  Deep down.  She didn't want to acknowledge it publicly, and isolated herself a bit at first, and to me that was very sad.

 

 

Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish?

 

I imagine he was afraid of being singled out, shunned, tormented, ridiculed, or taken away in the middle of the night.  Perfectly reasonable response from someone who's been traumatized, lost his wife, and is having trouble integrating.

 

Would you have?

 

Dear Lord, no!  I'd probably do what my own relatives did ... settle in a nice little community somewhere and try to mesh in as much as possible and hope to God no one came for me in the middle of the night.  I'm not sure I could ever feel safe again after what some of the Jews (and other refugees) went through.  I would certainly do everything in my power that I could do to make sure no one came for me or my family ever again. If that means going to the local church regardless of denomination and being a Jew in secret, so be it.

 

Then again, there is this little spark of something inside of me that rebels against that idea, and to be myself no matter the consequences, but the systematic elimination of the Jews and other groups of people based solely on religion, race, or sexual orientation might make me want to hide details about myself from others, to be sure.

 

Slightly relevant: Otto's story broke my heart in a small way. I wanted his wife and he to be reunited, for SOMETHING good to happen for him in that way.

 

 

 

 

 

The novel deals with the last summer of "innocence" for the United States before it was drawn into the war, before many American's wanted to be involved, and before the US was attacked you see any modern day parallels? 

 

Oh, 9/11, to be sure, for those of us in the U.S., at least.

 

 

 

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why?

 

 

I think Iris.  I was surprised, but glad, to see her lose her sense of Order and hack that flagpole to pieces after they buried Harry.

 

 

How do you think it would have changed your assessment of the characters if their attitudes and actions had been set after Pearl Harbor?

 

If they had behaved exactly the same way after Pearl Harbor?  I'm not sure I understand the question.  I suspect they wouldn't behave the same way after Pearl Harbor.  I think much of what guides the characters pre-Pearl Harbor is the fact that so far, the War is so remote.  Will might have behaved much the same, since I think he was selfish and only concerned with how he viewed himself and his actions, and Harry, because he was already so suspicious of an attack on US soil, but otherwise, I think the others would have reacted differently.


 

 

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dj5775
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail?

 

This letter should have been sent to his wife ASAP, instead it was put off, forgotten and when she arrived with it it was too late. I sending the letter I do think she failed.

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

 

I think her delivering the letter was fine but her reading it was overstepping. She was thinking of Emma's health and that of the baby's. I do think she should have been told sooner however in order to have a funeral at home.


Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish? Would you have?

Otto's choice was his own, would it have really made a difference to the townspeople??

 

Emma really surprised me, the strength she showed as the book went on.

 

ct