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skiibunny1213
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

So I have started my next book, but I can't get The Postmistress out of my head.  There is a beautiful and haunting quote in my new book (Birds without Wings by Louis de Bernieres) that I think really applies to the experiences/feelings of the characters in The Postmistress:

 

"There comes a point in life where each one of us who survives begins to feel like a ghost that has forgotten to die at the right time, and certainly most of us were more amusing when we were young.  It sees that age folds the heart in on itself.  Some of us walk detached, dreaming on the past, and some of us realise that we have lost the trick of standing in the sun.  For many of us the thought of the future is a cause for irritation rather than optimism, as if we have had enough of new things, and wish only for the long sleep that rounds the edges of our lives."

 

 

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 

You're welcome, skiibunny1213. I'm afraid there is a bit of selfishness involved in my "sorting out" the whos and whats and whys. I can't stand being "unorganized" in my thoughts (I wish that was the case in my feelings toward cupboards and closets), but if it helps somebody else that's a bonus.

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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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

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

 

So true. Especially if pain is involved. And there often is, especially in old age, physical as well as mental pain. I am helping to take care of a 97-year old relative and I see that irritation in her, impatience with herself for not being "able" and impatience with the world, because it is hard to keep up with. All her friends are dead, nobody left who can relate to her as peer; she can't see much which puts limits on her enjoyment of reading; and though she is extremely interested in politics, she feels her memory slipping away when she is searching for a name, a date, an incident. There are moments in the sun. When she stands on the balcony observing (she has peripheral vision) blackbirds who peck at the offered seeds. When somebody reminds her how much she loves music and she listenes to a particular song. For us, standing by, honoring the past, caring for the present, and trying to push away the sadness of the future becomes a loving, haunted balancing act.

skiibunny1213 wrote:

So I have started my next book, but I can't get The Postmistress out of my head.  There is a beautiful and haunting quote in my new book (Birds without Wings by Louis de Bernieres) that I think really applies to the experiences/feelings of the characters in The Postmistress:

 

"There comes a point in life where each one of us who survives begins to feel like a ghost that has forgotten to die at the right time, and certainly most of us were more amusing when we were young.  It sees that age folds the heart in on itself.  Some of us walk detached, dreaming on the past, and some of us realise that we have lost the trick of standing in the sun.  For many of us the thought of the future is a cause for irritation rather than optimism, as if we have had enough of new things, and wish only for the long sleep that rounds the edges of our lives."

 

 


 

 

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EiLvReedn
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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?

I don't think in life you can ever get the whole story because it depends on the people you are trying to get the story from. The Jewish people she interviewed were afraid and you could tell there were some very upset that Frankie was trying to get information. Trust is a hard thing and if your life is on the line makes it even harder. Then there is also observation and Frankie saw a lot so to get the story out? It depends on how it affects the reporter as we saw. Mr. Murrow seemed to have made himself "numb" to everything and Frankie just had to leave the job because she couldn't be that way.

 

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?I feel it's because she probably thought it wouldn't change anything and it would probably hurt Emma more. Frankie may have "failed" as a reporter but not at reporting this news because it showed she was human & had compassion.

 

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? If I were Iris I think I would have delivered the letter because it would look worse if Emma had found out the news some other way & then discovered you were sitting on the letter. I don't think Emma or anyone would appreciate playing with someone else's life and deciding for them what they should or should not know. I would be angry because I wouldn't want someone deciding that for me. Emma maybe would have moved on with her life sooner, made plans, instead she was just in a holding pattern. It's cruel, even though Iris may have felt she was protecting Emma.

 

Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish? Would you have? I'm not sure, it maybe because of the way they were treated him just because he was German. The towns people already didn't trust him so he probably felt telling them he was Jewish may make that worse. After all the Jews had fled to other countries and it didn't do them any good.

 

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why? Frankie, because in the very beginning she is at a dinner party and I got the impression that she was worldwise and when she goes into telling the story, I expected that she was a war correspondent and had continued on in a journalism career without stopping or taking a break. Kind of like that oldest White House correspondent/journalist who still gets to ask presidents questions. I never figured she'd be so affected that she would just walk out like that. The end of the story didn't leave me with the impression that she would go back anytime soon. I was kind of disappointed with the ending of the book as I thought it would segway back to the dinner party and we might find out what the rest of Frankie's life was like.

 

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? Yep, we're not living over in Iraq, we don't know how the lives of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan or any of the other Arab countries are really like. I've read a couple of books by people who's parents fled to the United States and the child chooses to go back to the "home" country of Iran to try to live  as journalists and how terrible and scary it is. So I can't imagine how the countries w/ the Taliban or any other extremists groups that are so visibly present are like. AND if I can't see it or imagine it, then it doesn't exist, right? That's kind of how America was back then. I have a friend who's son had been saying for the last 3 years that he was going to join the military. Although, she didn't discourage him, she was secretly hoping he wouldn't and I as a parent am hoping we don't bring in a draft. We're afraid that all we are doing is sending our young men & women over to countries who don't want us there. BUT is that really the case? Maybe there are some things we are doing that will help the oppressed. We just aren't getting all of the information.  Even w/ 911 it's just not as personal as if you were constantly living in fear like the people in these countries.

 

How do you think it would have changed your assessment of the characters if their attitudes and actions had been set after Pearl Harbor? Harry wouldn't have changed, he seemed to know. The rest of the characters would more likely support getting into the war because now it was personal.

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

I totally agree.  When Iris followed the rules, she felt in control of herself and her surroundings.  Once she chose not to immediately deliver the news of Will's death, she lost that sense of order and it was reflected in her treatment of Emma, Frankie, and Otto.  My feelings about her changed a bit at that point and she wasn't quite as "likeable".  She thought she was protecting Emma, but was she really just protecting herself from her actions?

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valbea2
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-02-2009

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

In the beginning of the book Iris and Frankie seemed to be the strong ones and Emma the weak one.  They should have given her the letters and Frankie should have told her that she talked to her husband before he died.  Emma was strong enough to take the news, Iris and Frankie just were not strong enough to give it to her. 

 

I believe Frankie was the character that surprised me most.  She seemed so strong and together writing her stories, reporting the news.  But when she went overseas and was faced with the reality of what was going on there, we watched her fall apart little by little until she seemed like a completely different person.  Sometimes we really don't know how strong or weak we are until we are confronted with overwhelming circumstances.

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Lildove3
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

It is a very difficult cross to bear knowing you have to deliver such a final message..

which is to tell a loved one, that there other half has passed. So I can understand why people

hold on to the kind of news...In some respects, I feel Iris did the right thing by holding onto

the last letter written by Will. Some chapters of the book had me a little confussed but in the

end it finally cleared up most of my questions. Yes, it was a very sad ending and it was a

very bizzare way to end a story.

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Sheltiemama
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎06-01-2009

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

I'm a journalist, so I brought my background to Frankie's story. I don't think it's possible to get the whole story sometimes. My city is in the middle of a torture-slaying murder trial, and those of us in the newsroom agree that we'll never know the whole story behind this crime.

 

Remember that part of Murrow's advice was to do no harm while getting the story. Giving Emma the letter or, especially, telling her about how happy Will was in London would have harmed her.

 

Part of my job is to select national and international wire stories. Sometimes, The Associated Press moves photos to go with stories of, for example, suicide bombings, that are so graphic we can't use them. We still can tell the story without showing readers gory details they don't need to understand it.

 

I would have delivered the letter in Iris' place, but it seems that Emma gained some strength in the meantime. When the news came, she had a support system.

 

I think Otto felt that he shouldn't have to justify himself. Also, there was discrimination against Jews at that time.

 

Iris surprised me the most. She was such a stickler for rules and order, her not delivering any letter was shocking.

 

 

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

[ Edited ]

Sheltiemama-- thank you for your perspectives as a journalist!

 

I would have delivered the letter in Iris' place, but it seems that Emma gained some strength in the meantime. When the news came, she had a support system.

 

It seemed to me that Iris got herself into a bind when she accepted the letter from Will to be delivered on his death.  I suspect she expected the letter she opened to have some final answer and, if it WAS death, she could deliver the letter she held as some sort of an anecdote to the sad news.  When it was inconclusive, she was in a bind.  Did she hold on to the letter she had or deliver it, leaving Emma without even that support.  If she had just delivered the letter instead of opening it, she would not have gotten herself into that bind apriori, but she would still have had to decide whether to give Emma the letter she held at that point or to continue to wait for verification.

 

Iris surprised me the most. She was such a stickler for rules and order, her not delivering any letter was shocking.

 

In hindsight, I wonder if the author gave us a foreshadowing of Iris and a rather surprising willingness to "break rules" when she got her certificate, but was still willing to have an affair with Harry.

 

Pepper

 


Sheltiemama wrote:

I'm a journalist, so I brought my background to Frankie's story. I don't think it's possible to get the whole story sometimes. My city is in the middle of a torture-slaying murder trial, and those of us in the newsroom agree that we'll never know the whole story behind this crime.

 

Remember that part of Murrow's advice was to do no harm while getting the story. Giving Emma the letter or, especially, telling her about how happy Will was in London would have harmed her.

 

Part of my job is to select national and international wire stories. Sometimes, The Associated Press moves photos to go with stories of, for example, suicide bombings, that are so graphic we can't use them. We still can tell the story without showing readers gory details they don't need to understand it.

 

I would have delivered the letter in Iris' place, but it seems that Emma gained some strength in the meantime. When the news came, she had a support system.

 

I think Otto felt that he shouldn't have to justify himself. Also, there was discrimination against Jews at that time.

 

Iris surprised me the most. She was such a stickler for rules and order, her not delivering any letter was shocking.



"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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bookowlie
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎04-15-2008
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

[ Edited ]

I think Frankie kept "forgetting" to deliver the letter initially because that would make it real that Will died.  Later she doesn't tell Emma about meeting Will because it's heartbreaking to her knowing that Emma's husband died and that Emma is pregnant.

 

I think Iris should have delivered the letter.  I was very disappointed in her choice not to deliver it.  In her job, she should have been more objective and carried out her duties, instead of playing with people's lives.  In small towns, I guess even the people who "run" the town lose their objectivity and make decisions based on their emotions and the townspeople they interact with.

 

I think Otto didn't tell the townspeople that he was Jewish because they already treated him like an outsider.  He felt he would be further stigmatized if they knew he was Jewish.  I think he was fearful of people's prejudices and probably he was right.  In the 1940's, many Americans were anti-Semitic and I think that's why the US government didn't do more to accept more Jewish refugees into this country at the time.

 

I think the modern-day parallels of the last summer of "innocence" is the summer of 2001 before the horrors of Sept. 11th occurred.  Americans used to feel invincible and safe on their own soil and that was forever taken from them on Sept. 11.

 

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

I agree with you, Iris' choice to not deliver the letter is very surprising.  It completely goes against her personality of living her life by the rules.  I wonder if Iris lived her life through rules and order only when she had no romantic life.  Once she fell in love with Harry, she then didn't live such a rules-bound, orderly life.

 


Sheltiemama wrote:

I'm a journalist, so I brought my background to Frankie's story. I don't think it's possible to get the whole story sometimes. My city is in the middle of a torture-slaying murder trial, and those of us in the newsroom agree that we'll never know the whole story behind this crime.

 

Remember that part of Murrow's advice was to do no harm while getting the story. Giving Emma the letter or, especially, telling her about how happy Will was in London would have harmed her.

 

Part of my job is to select national and international wire stories. Sometimes, The Associated Press moves photos to go with stories of, for example, suicide bombings, that are so graphic we can't use them. We still can tell the story without showing readers gory details they don't need to understand it.

 

I would have delivered the letter in Iris' place, but it seems that Emma gained some strength in the meantime. When the news came, she had a support system.

 

I think Otto felt that he shouldn't have to justify himself. Also, there was discrimination against Jews at that time.

 

Iris surprised me the most. She was such a stickler for rules and order, her not delivering any letter was shocking.

 

 


 

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TNmumof2
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Registered: ‎09-02-2009
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

I agree Shelsie.  It wasn't really her call to make - whether to deliver the letter or not.  It was her job to deliver it.  Do you think if she had, Emma would've had a different response when she finally learned the truth?

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kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006

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

 

For me as I read this book, grew to know the characters so well thanks to the author, the question about Frankie and Iris not delivering their letters to Emma made them more real.  People do things all of the time that is out of character in an attempt to help/protect someone.  Whether that's right or wrong isn't the question- we all want to show compasion and caring.  Emma eventually found out about Will and was able to take in the news with people she knew cared about her there with her.  These people who cared about her were the ones who tried to protect her.  (I'm rambling a little, but it worked for me in this story.)
Kathy

Rachel-K wrote:

 

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?

 

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?

 

 

 


 

 

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

 

I finished the book late and am just now getting a chance to read people's posts.  I agree with your comments.  It is how I felt about the characters and the story.
Kathy

Fozzie wrote:

I loved the double meaning of the title!  Both Frankie and Iris are women who did not deliver the mail.  Going into the story, I would not have understood or supported not delivering a letter to someone.  However, after completing the story and understanding both Iris’ and Frankie’s reasons for not delivering letters, and deciding never to deliver the letters, I have to say that I am in support of their decisions.  In the end, the letters they each held were meaningless.  It was best to wait for official word, via the telegram, and never to reveal their secret letters.

 

As I have mentioned, I have read many historical fiction books, many about World War II, and thought the premise of this story was wonderful and original.  Through Frankie, we saw and heard the horrors of war, yet Frankie allowed us to put names and faces with the stories of war, which I think is essential in understanding the effect of war. 

 

I also liked the contrast of the home front with the war front.  This duality added great depth and contrast to the story.


 

 

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

I don't think it was possible for Frankie to "Get in. Get the story. Get out."  After seeing so many people afraid and seeing a man shot in front of her, it became more than a story.  These were people's lives and no one seemed to care.  I think Frankie wasn't able to deliver the letter and tell that she talked to Will because telling a story is so different.  Impersonal.  She was face to face with another person and Emma was pregnant. I would have had a tough time telling her too.  If I were Iris, I too wouldn't have delivered the letter. I think she was giving Emma time before the truth came. The letter she didn't deliver wasn't confirmation that Will had indeed died. 

 

Otto. In that climate, he was afraid to say he was Jewish because they just thought he was a Kraut. They didn't trust him anyway. Would they have acted any better if they knew he was Jewish?  I don't think so. I wouldn't have said a word either.

 

 

 

 

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babzilla41
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

As far as Otto choosing not to reveal the fact that he was Jewish, how sad that he felt it was best that the townspeople assume he was German (in the face of the atrocities he knew the Germans were committing) rather than let them know he was a Jew.  I think that says more about the people of Franklin and their "stick your head in the sand attitude" toward the war that was raging around them than anything else.

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Peppermill
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 


babzilla41 wrote:

As far as Otto choosing not to reveal the fact that he was Jewish, how sad that he felt it was best that the townspeople assume he was German (in the face of the atrocities he knew the Germans were committing) rather than let them know he was a Jew.  I think that says more about the people of Franklin and their "stick your head in the sand attitude" toward the war that was raging around them than anything else.


 

Let's not drag all Germans into a stereotype, either, although I understand the point you are making! 

 

"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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babzilla41
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)


Peppermill wrote:

 


babzilla41 wrote:

As far as Otto choosing not to reveal the fact that he was Jewish, how sad that he felt it was best that the townspeople assume he was German (in the face of the atrocities he knew the Germans were committing) rather than let them know he was a Jew.  I think that says more about the people of Franklin and their "stick your head in the sand attitude" toward the war that was raging around them than anything else.


 

Let's not drag all Germans into a stereotype, either, although I understand the point you are making! 

 


 

Definitely not meant to stereotype anyone...just poorly worded.  I apologize.

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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pen21
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

This part of the book was the best part of the book. It really brought the story together for me.  It converged the 3 main female characters together in one town. All 3 women suddenly brought together by the death of Will, that only Frankie and Iris know about.

I thought it was interesting that there was 2 letters not delivered. Frankie not delivering the last letter that Will wrote. And then Iris not delivering the letter from Will's landlady.

pen21

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

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.