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andiev
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Registered: ‎08-31-2009
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

 

I'm a bit late in responding to this thread.  Sorry my midterms and papers have been completely taking up all of my time for the past few weeks.

 

How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London? How does she treat the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe? What effect did her brief contact with Will have on her?

Her need to take over Harriet's mission has definitely changed Frankie, she isn't as tough as she used to be.  Her awareness shifts, before she could report without being too affected such as the case of her boy neighbor but now I think she is taking it more to heart.  She is almost obsessed with recording as much as possible, she has this need to remember that must be satisfied.   

 

Will said to Frankie that his experience of London during was was that everything "adds up."  What does he mean by this? Why does Will seem happy? What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death?

Will means that when someone is actually experiencing the war, their closeness to it allows them to understand it much better.  The view from so close makes things add up in a way that the view from outside cannot.  Will seems happy because he is finally rid of the stigma of his family's past and is able to do something on his own.  He is able to start over and feels that he is being useful or even that he is making up for his family's/his mistakes. I think the fact that his death as a traffic accident makes sense considering the lack of American involvement at the time. Well not really makes sense but I think it was symbolic at least.

 

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?

Emma is used to being alone, being an orphan she feels as though she will always be alone.  I think that the news will just confirm her suspicions and make her into more of a recluse.  I don't think the news will necessarily crush her though just on the basis that she is used to being disappointed.  

 

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ReadingPatti
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Hi! Everyone, The more I read of this book, the more I love it. The author brings to life what was going on during the WW2.

 

You feel like you are rigtht there with these characters. I love the characters, especially the women. They are the strength of this book.

 

I am glad to see such strong women in a book at a time when women first made their way into the work force. Building planes, working as reporters, and other professions that were for men.

 

Sarah Blake is a great writer. She knows how to write great characters and give us a wonderful story.

 

I will look forward to reading her next book.

 

ReadingPatti

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m3girl
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

I like Iris - she seems to have her act together - in a way.  I have no idea what she sees in Harry - I'm having trouble picturing him and what I do see is some older heavy loser sort of guy that's hung up on the flagpole and watching for germans.  The whole thing with the doctor's visit and the letter turned me off on Iris at the start.  Harry's reaction to the letter was strange and their 'love scene' was awkward as I expected it to be.  I don't see what she see's in him - unless it's more that he will have to do as there isn't much else out there - women settle all the time....


Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions to start conversation about the Winter and Spring sections of The Postmistress.

 

How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London? How does she treat the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe? What effect did her brief contact with Will have on her?

 

How have your feelings for Iris changed during these chapters? Compare your initial impression of her in a doctor's office to the woman we observe efficiently managing this small town the post office. How well do Harry and Iris understand each other? Are they similar at all?

 

Will said to Frankie that his experience of London during was was that everything "adds up."  What does he mean by this? Why does Will seem happy? What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death?

 

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?


 

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cmmn
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Frankie went to Europe to see and tell the story of the refuges.  As she traveled she became a part of the story instead of an observer. Her perspective changed.  By the end of her time in Europe she just wanted to record as many voices as she could.  I think this was the best part of the book so far.

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m3girl
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)


I guess in these middle chapters - I'm just starting chapter 13 at this point - I'm getting to know the characters better and having less trouble following all of the jumps...I'm also beginning to really wonder about this letter that isn't delivered.  I thought it might have been a letter from Will to Emma but reading below in the guidelines I guess that's not it....it was a good hook at the beginning.....

 

Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions to start conversation about the Winter and Spring sections of The Postmistress.

 

How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London? How does she treat the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe? What effect did her brief contact with Will have on her?

 

How have your feelings for Iris changed during these chapters? Compare your initial impression of her in a doctor's office to the woman we observe efficiently managing this small town the post office. How well do Harry and Iris understand each other? Are they similar at all?

 

Will said to Frankie that his experience of London during was was that everything "adds up."  What does he mean by this? Why does Will seem happy? What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death?

 

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?


 

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smeather30
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?

I liked Emma less and less as the story progressed.  I thought Will was a weak man, and a jerk for abandoning her when he knew how vulnerable she was.  However, Emma needed to realize that she wasn't the only person in the world with problems, and that as bad as her life had been, there are still people who have had it worse.  Emma just seemed whiny and selfish.

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

 

In defense of an "older heavy loser."
1. It is harder for a writer to portray a "loser" than a hero.
2. There is no law that says that we have to like all the characters in a novel.
3. Not everybody can be a winner. it would be boring.In life as well as in a novel.
4. Though Hollywood tries to convince us otherwise, in real life not everybody is young, cute, and successful.
5. Even losers deserve love. And older men. And heavy men.
6. I'm not convinced that Harry Vale is a loser. He worked and had his own place. He gave Otto a place to sleep and a job in his garage. And sombody had to do the foreshadowing in the story. "The Germans are coming" might be a joke in town but Harry was right. Also, somebody had to be the "stable" male character, offsetting Will's irrational behaviour.

m3girl wrote:

I like Iris - she seems to have her act together - in a way.  I have no idea what she sees in Harry - I'm having trouble picturing him and what I do see is some older heavy loser sort of guy that's hung up on the flagpole and watching for germans.  The whole thing with the doctor's visit and the letter turned me off on Iris at the start.  Harry's reaction to the letter was strange and their 'love scene' was awkward as I expected it to be.  I don't see what she see's in him - unless it's more that he will have to do as there isn't much else out there - women settle all the time....


 


 

 

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EiLvReedn
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Registered: ‎05-25-2007
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London? How does she treat the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

I'm not sure tough minded is the right word, she has been enlightened and I believe until she really gets into the stories of the refugees she doesn't realize what they have been going thru to survive, she get a good take of the fear & tragedy of their lives.

 

How have your feelings for Iris changed during these chapters? Compare your initial impression of her in a doctor's office to the woman we observe efficiently managing this small town the post office. How well do Harry and Iris understand each other? Are they similar at all?

Iris is Iris, determined and set in her ways. I also think she is afraid to give too much because it will upset the balance she has set up in her world. I do see her softening a little now that her relationship with Harry has progressed.

 

Will said to Frankie that his experience of London during was was that everything "adds up."  What does he mean by this? Why does Will seem happy? What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death?

Will may seem happy because he has run away from his real life and he feels he is needed in London. The fact that he died in a traffic accident rather than due to a bomb is just too ironic. It could have happened to him in the US. But he has to go all the way to London just to die that way!

 

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?

Emma is just existing and telling herself everything is going to be OK. She just has to avoid hearing the truth. I expect Emma to fall apart when she finds out she has lost Will for good. She seems to need his connection to belong in the world. She hasn't really made any close connections with anyone else in the town. I'm not sure if it's she just doesn't want to accept anyone's help or friendship or if it's just she is too afraid to let go of what she feels her life should be.

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letsread2SC
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

I've been so engrossed in reading that I pondered the questions as I read, but then blew right in to the next chapters. I've put on the brakes for a small moment to respond before I wrap up reading the book-great rainy day read this AM!

 

Mid chapters I felt that Frankie  earnestly tried yet seemed helpless to report the progressive tide of war, As Will pointed out, she appeared to "be pretty tough to bear not knowing" the end of the stories of the refugees she met. At their meeting, I it seemed that she admired Will's effort to help with London's medical needs, but saw him as al little naive. I think that carrying Will's letter gave her a responsibility that remained with her, but an end she couldn't foresee. I don't think her resolve to report the news changed, but the reality of the situations on the trains seemed to dehumanize each event as the numbers multiplied. At the time, she showed compassion to the Jewish refugees, but as the numbers mounted, she did seem to collect their stories without being able to do anything about them and could "escape" to much needed rest and "felt relieved of duty."

 

Iris gets her job done and appears to be concerned about Emma and other people in the community, but somewhat detached from really ever seeing them as more than postal patrons. I think that Harry and Iris gently grow to understand each other, but much goes unsaid.

 

I took Will's comment about "everything "adds up" to mean that his unselfish  service in London (to London, not as Emma's husband leaving her alone in the states) in his mind might cancel out Maggie's loss to her family. In London, his work seemed to matter and fill a need vs.. The routine of a neighborhood Dr. back home. Yet he was not a real participant in the war, but  an outsider. I t really bothered me that Emma's face/reality also seemed to vanish from his mind.

 

Emma was strong as appearances went, like she was trying to hold on to "the Dr.'s wife role." She doesn't appear to have any support system, so could be crushed when the news arrives. My impression of Emma remained much the same. She still isolated herself, living a hopeful dream and yet perceiving herself as "becoming invisible."

 

 

Sharon

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. ~ Barrow ~
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Cobalt-blue4
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

 

Hi Sunltcloud!

 

I enjoyed your post, too!  Your true stories greatly interest me. You tell them with a joy of life and an appreciation for what you did have. 

 

It's fun to imagine how the characters live their lives after the conclusion of the book. I would like to think that Emma and Frankie do become friends. Little Will would bring such joy to both of their lives, too. 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Sunltcloud wrote:

 

I loved your post, Cobalt-blue4. And, as an Ecco person with lots of walking miles behind me, I have to tell you about two incidents that happened many, many years ago.

 

1. During the war a truck overturned in our small town. All of us children ran toward it and we "stole" as much as we could carry without getting caught. Some of us wore aprons and thus had a built-in carrier. I've since read about children stealing coal from transports, and potatoes in fields, and wood for heat etc, so I no longer feel guilt over this incident. What makes me laugh now though, is the fact that we stole something useless, just because we were hungry for anything. We stole shoe polish! That's what fell from the truck. Little containers of shoe polish. I can't remember my mother's reaction; she probably laughed. I sometimes wonder what they used ten or fifteen containers of shoe polish for,since everything was used during the war and we certainly didn't have lots of shoes to polish. My mother probably wished it had been soap.

2. When I was fourteen, in 1952, we celebrated confirmation. It was still a time for being frugal. My grandmother sewed my dress and my mother bought my new shoes. She bought them two sized too big and even though we stuffed them with paper, I had a hard time walking without losing them.

 

Those were the two things I thought of when I read about Frankie and Emma's "shopping spree" in the shoe store. :smileyhappy: They were so different from each other in peace time, but I wonder if war would eventually bring them closer together. Since the choices dwindle when there is rationing and one takes what one gets, would they maybe both stand in line, each grumbling about the cheap sandals they would receive (one pair for each resident for the summer)?

I think there's nothing more bonding than collective grumbling. And however timid Emma is, she might have to learn quickly to communicate with Frankie.

 

Frankie to no one in particular, standing in line in front of the shoe store, waiting for the last three hours, watching women and children pass by, their sandals in hand: "Can you believe it? We're supposed to wear these flimsy things all summer? They look like they'd fall apart by the time we get back up that hill."

 

Emma, right behind her, carrying her baby in her arms, groaning and moaning, wiping her forehead, answers: "I like the blue ones. But I think I'll take them off when I walk in the sand. Hm, I wonder if little Will gets sandals too. His feet are so small."

 

Frankie turns, looks at little Will and Emma. She is not the motherly type, but smiles and tickles little Will's foot that is still in baby booties. She looks down at her Eccos that are caked with mud. "Imagine, I used to be stylish; look at me now. I guess the war makes you reconsider your priorities. Hey, I think I'll go with bright red if they give me a choice."

 

"I don't really care anymore." Emma always sounds a bit defeated. But then her voice picks up and becomes forceful. "But my baby is learning to walk; he needs good shoes so his feet don't get deformed. I read that in a book that his aunt Iris found in the library. Babies need good shoes."

 

Well, anyway, that was fun. Better than vacuuming the living room. I know what you mean about moving around and that it takes a while to be assimilated by the town or accustomed to a new city. We all react differently and I hope that Emma, once she has her baby, will become more interactive. I've seen that happen in my own family; a young person who was suddenly "in charge" of another human being, her baby, exceeded all my expectations and grew responsible/ maternal in a very short period of time.

______________________________________________________________________
Cobalt-blue4 wrote:
If Emma and Frankie happen to go shoe shopping together, they'd be in different sections of the shoe department. Frankie would be searching for Ecco's for their style, comfort, and durability. Emma would be searching for simple shoes with thin soles and probably no arch support would be just fine for her. Now, just say, they both had bunion problems and needed orthotics. Frankie could still wear the stylish, comfortable, and durable Ecco's.  On the other hand, I believe that Emma would rather complain about her orthotics not fitting properly into her simple shoes rather than buying a new pair of shoes that hold the orthotics in place.
What does shoes have to do with moving on in life? Emma couldn't wear Frankie's shoes because Emma lacks many qualities needed to pursue an exciting, goal-driven, and fulfilling life. To Emma, Frankie's shoes would be too intimidating. Even forced to wear her shoes, she'd fall apart! She doesn't have resilience because if she did, she'd start with finding ways to occupy her time and doing things to improve her emotional well-being. 
As for leaving Franklin, I do not believe that would change Emma's life in any way. You could move to a new town, but in essence, you still create the life you know around you no matter where you live. Granted, there may be more opportunities in a different town, yet you'll still pursue the same type of people, career, and activities. 
I speak from experience. I have moved around quit a bit for love, grad school, and jobs. In each town, whether I liked it or not, my issues came right along with me as loyal as a dog. Ten years ago, I moved to a small-midwestern city where "The town was not waiting to start up with her arrival. The town was clearly already itself without her (18)." It took me nearly 4 years of being present & active in the community for me to call it home. I am right there with Sunltcloud that Emma needs to create the life she wants to live. But, does Emma really know what she wants? No matter if she does or not, resilience to rise above all that pulls you down is an extraordinary quality to have in life.   

 

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maude40
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

There is a paragraph on page 177 that I thought was so heart-wrenching. It has stuck with me through the rest of the book. Yvonne

"Someone banged on the train window and Frankie looked up and saw the frantic face of a woman outside pressed against the glass, shouting at her. The train shifted and sighed and crept forward. The woman on the plateform dropped her arm, but there was a relentless banging still on the car below the window. It became clear that the train was going to leave everyone on the platform behind and Frankie stared down into all those faces upturned to hers and knew she was looking at ghosts. They were not going to get out. A different train, on a different night perhaps. But this one was full, although everyone out there held a ticket, and a large enough train had been promised. They were drowning there right in front of her, withih sight of the lifeboats, within sight of the shore, and here she was, taking up a spot."

 

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tree_lover
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Emma's character irritated me.  I thought she would be this strong and resilient woman who would do more than sit around and feel sorry for herself and isolate herself from the rest of the town.  Why didn't she write longer letters to her husband?  Why not tell him that she was pregnant?  He may have come home much sooner and he may still alive.  He wasn't a solidier fighting a war, he was a doctor that felt guilty for not saving a woman's life during childbirth.  Will irritated me because he should have known what was going on with Maggie when he smelled his finger and there was an odor that was not right.  She may still be alive if he did something earlier.  Why didn't he call his wife to help him with Maggie.  I will never understand that.  Why abandon his wife because of his guilt?  Why did Will feel that he needed to stay another 6 months  away from his wife?  Frankie talked to him and he missed his wife and that is what lead to his death in the accident.

 

Frankie's character is my favorite.  After witnessing Will's death, she had a letter that she was determined to take and somehow deliver.  Being on the train with all those people and recording them was wonderful.  I like the description of the characters and how they felt and what they were going through to just to be free.  The "recorder" was a little off for the time period they were talking about.

 

The character "Thomas" I think was the best thing that came into Frankie's life.  I think it gave her a better perspective of what was really going on with the people oversees.  the death of Thomas humbled her character as well.  Frankie was still strong in character but could see the desperation fo the people who were being separated and killed for freedom in this time of war.

 

liz

http://nygirltrustnoone.blogspot.com/
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sheljenk
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Frankie seemed to really be affected by the people around her - the refugees.  Their stories had a huge impact on her and I liked how her attitude really started to change once she saw what was happening with her own eyes.  The parts of these strangers lives that she was able to view spurred her on to get as many stories down as she could.  She wanted to make a difference, get them noticed.  Seeing her character grow in this way was nice.  The snippets of these peoples lives were extremely moving.  I felt like I was seeing a part of WWII that I've never really thought about before.  I can't imagine going through something like what those refugees went through.  As an American in 2009, I'm so far removed from something like that.  I'm glad I got a chance to pause and really think about something like that happening for the first time.

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mgorbatjuk
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

I just finished the part where Frankie makes her first broadcast after she's been on the train for several days. I didn't get the connection to Beethoven's symphony at first but when I re-read it I felt like the people in the square must have felt like. I felt like they couldn't be defeated-it really wouldn't be fair. I don't want to know what I know-I only want to know that these people are survivors. I feel like for everything I read I get closer to the characters. Whether we know them by name or just a bunch of people trying to survive.

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HannibalCat
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Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)


Zia01 wrote:

How have your feelings for Iris changed during these chapters? I don't think we saw enough of her in these middle chapters to really form an opinion. My only real opinion is she's efficient and it makes her seem tough on the outside but I don't think she's as tough as we might think.


What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death? It didn't matter to me how he died. I was just upset that he did.

 

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses? Emma handles it like you would expect anyone who has someone in a war, would handle it. She misses him and is sick with worry. I think she'll be devasted but I think she's stronger than anyone gives her credit for.

I agree with your take on Iris and Emma. 
But, I have a real problem with Will. I think he went to London to die. I don't think he could forgive himself for Maggie, and this was a way for him to make up for her death. He could help people for a while and then die. This may seem harsh, maybe he didn't think it through that way, but he didn't seem to want to go home. His statement that it all adds up is so out of sync with the reality of his life so far, that it only adds up if you see it as a prelude to his death. I can't see him leaving his wife, even though he didn't know she was pregnant, she was just newly arrived and knew no one, if he was not going to London with a very serious purpose. The letter he gave Iris is another clue that he did not intend to come home. He intended to die. Not suicide, that was against his morals, but what better way to die for your sins if you could be doing good at the same time.  I'm rambling, but I just don't get him in any other way.

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floreader
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Registered: ‎09-15-2008
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Initially Frankie just wants to be a good reporter.  As the story progresses, she becomes much more emotionally involved in the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe.  She becomes very affected by their stories, and focused on recording the refugees' stories.

 

In the early chapters, I thought Iris was a stiff and unyielding personality.  I thought she was an oddball in the doctor's office, yet she was very efficient at her job.  I felt that was very realistically portrayed, as many people do a good job in their professional lives, yet are socially inept in their personal lives.  When she becomes romantically involved with Harry, Iris becomes much happier and more willing to interact with the townspeople on a personal level.

 

Will seems happier in London where he can help people without feeling like the failure he did back in Franklin .  He feels freer where no one knows him or his family's past.  Will's death in a traffic accident made me feel that he was still a failure, since he wasn't looking the right way.

 

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bookowlie
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

I agree with you that Emma will be just fine.  I think she is resilient due to being orphaned at such a young age.  I think the new baby will give her a family and she will have someone to live for.  When she says "Hello" to the house, I think the feeling of home and family is very important to her.  I think Will was just a vehicle for her to have a home and family.  She didn't know him very well before she married him, but probably wanted to marry him more for the sake of being part of a family rather than for Will himself.

 

 


T-Mo wrote:

How does Emma hold up? At the end of our current section, Emma is still getting daily letters from Will from before his death--how do you expect her to handle the news? Has your impression of Emma changed as the story progresses?

 

I think Emma will be just fine. Of course she will be devastated to learn of his death, but I think she will get on with her life. She is a survivor in the sense that she has already suffered the death of her family. While it is a terrible tragedy to have to go through, she knows she can endure and persevere because she already has once. Perhaps the fact that she has a new baby on the way will provide hope and also help her get through this loss. She will know that in the end she won’t be alone because she will have a child to love and care for, unlike after the death of her parents when she truly was all alone. 

 


 

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CKindianCB
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

Frankie appears to be a very compassionate and observant person.  She sees the Jews on the trains and on the platforms and is just beginning to understand the horror of war.  When she was reporting on the bombings she seemed almost withdrawn.  Meeting Will made her more aware of each individual and the effect of war and life in general.

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lisally
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

I am enjoying this section of the book way more than the earlier chapters.

 

The portions focusing on Frankie are very compelling, much more so than anything happening back in Massachusetts.  I think Frankie is still very tough-minded about her job, as she is able to get a shot at the story she wants, that of the refugees.  However, her experiences in London have definitely gotten to her emotionally, and her efforts to separate her feelings from the news testify to her strength.  At the same time, I think she is directing some of those feelings into her determination to report on the plight of the fleeing Jews.

 

As I said earlier, I find the Massachusetts chapters very dull and would rather the author devoted the entire novel to Frankie's story.  None of the characters in Franklin are particulary likeable, and not much happens on that side of the ocean aside from some boring romances. I have only seen the titular postmistress conducting her job professionally, and have yet to see her pocket any letters more tthan halfway through the novel.  The character of  Emma is particularly annpying, wallowing in her past and her longing for Will.  Perhaps these scenes do illustrate the disconnect felt by most Americans at the time, but I feel they drag down the novel and I have little interest in reading them.

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libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008
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Re: Middle Chapters: Winter and Spring (9 - 17)

How does Emma hold up?

 

I don't think Emma holds up very well.  She does not like the fact that she is alone, yet she does not make any effort to reach out to any of the residents of Franklin.  Several times it appeared that she would open up and talk to Iris, but then she just shut down and left the post office. It seems like the only thing that is sustaining her is the daily trip to the post office to get Will's letter and to mail one to him.  I am having a hard time liking her in this section. 

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"