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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


Choisya wrote:

Hi Sarah - another question:  Several readers, including myself, have been bemused by Iris' letter from the doctor proving her virginity.  In my 76 years I have never come across this idea either in real life or in fiction - could you tell us how you thought up this intriguing plot line?  It reminded me more of a modern certificate proving someone does not have AIDS rather than something a woman in the 1940s would have.


 

 

Hi Choisya--Iris's certificate was one of the very first scenes I wrote about her many years ago--it sprang entirely out of my head, and it told me so much about her, how she handled the doctor, how she judged his handwriting, etc. Her voice is so clear and so strong in that scene and it helped me think about what kind of person she was, and then if she sought something like this--which was clearly as surprising to the doctor as it was to you, that is I don't think anybody did this, except Iris James!--what did it mean that she would choose not to deliver a letter? What possibly would cause someone who goes to have her own virginity certified to break the rules as she does?--Sarah

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


Suetj wrote:

I was also wondering about the "Postmaster" vs "Postmistress" referances.  Was it uncommon during that era to have a woman handling the post office duties?   Women in this historical novel are portrayed with so much depth.  As a reader, I love the contrast of  personalities presented.  Thank you Sarah Blake for this 'ode to women' as I see it during such an important time in our history. Ahhhhhhhh did I just answer the question POSTMISTRESS not MASTER-an inspiring nod to women!  I would like to see this played out on the big screen in a theater- although readding it touches the heart in so many ways!


 

Hi Suetj--Though it wasn't uncommon to have a woman handling the post office, early on in my research, I interviewed the retired postmaster of  a small town in Maine, who gruffly  informed me that a postmaster was a postmaster no matter if they were man, woman, or baboon. So, I had to address that somehow, that difference--and you'll see in the last section that I try to. There is a distinction being made between postmaster and mistress, but let's hold of on discussing that until everyone has finished the book. And thank you for your nice words! Sarah

 

Author
Sarah-Blake
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Registered: ‎08-25-2009

Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


Choisya wrote:

Me again Sarah:smileyhappy::  Pursuant to my question about Iris' 'virginity certificate' I would like to ask what your thoughts were when you wrote the various sex scenes, especially Frankie's 'one night stand', which has been described here as gratuitous and unnecessary.  I felt it was realistic but hoped the man used a condom, for reasons I have described elsewhere.  


 

I'm sure you've probably read other authors say this, but honestly so much that happens in a novel happens in the writing of it, happens that is, without being planned for--I didn't know what Iris was at the doctor for until I was in the middle of the scene; likewise the scene between Frankie and the man in the Savoy sprang out of the mood and the longing and the sound of the bombs I imagined and that's where they ended up. It seemed right for her and right given what was happening.

 

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Response to Sara Blake's Thoughts thread

 


JaneM wrote:

I could not reply on the thread with Sara Blake's thoughts, so I decided to post it in the Questions thread, although I have no question!  I wanted to tell you, Sara, how much I am enjoying the book.  I was immediately drawn into the characters, locations and narrative and had little trouble following the change of character/locale so I was with you from the start.  However, I really appreciated your comments on why you used the style that you did, to create the simultaneity sense of things happening concurrently.  I get it, and I love it!  Thanks for a great book and I can't wait to finish the last section and see how it all ends.


 

Thank you, Jane! I've particularly liked reading your comments about the differences between Iris's faith in silent vigilence, and Frankie's faith in speaking out. When we all get to the end of the book, it might be interesting to return to that difference to think about what these two women end up betraying. Sarah

 

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Response to Sara Blake's Thoughts thread

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

You wrote on your thought's thread:
One morning in the spring of 2001, I opened the newspaper to the now iconic photograph of a Palestinian father and his son crouched behind a bunker, caught in the crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian fighters, the son burrowed into his father’s lap as the father tries to protect him from bullets. The photograph captures the moment just before the boy is, in fact, shot and killed. And the fact that I—sitting at breakfast in Chicago, my own son reading the comics beside me—could see the last second of this boy’s life was unbearable. I wanted to write about this somehow—this aspect of war and its terrifying accidents and how we come to terms with the fact that wars are being waged right now
, even as I write (and you read) these words. How do we imagine that simultaneity?

 

How do you think that Frankie would have presented this story? In wartime, or any other time, do you think it is as important to present the news accurately or is it more important to get the story out quickly even with possible tragic repercussions? Often  in the moment, what appears to be true is later proven not to be. However, the news of war is presented in the moment.

 

BTW, It was af first thought to have been an IDF bullet that killed the child but it was later shown to be pretty impossible and more likely that it could even have been a bullet from a Palestinian weapon that took his life. Although there are some who will reject the source of this explanation, it is shorter and worthwhile reading.

 

 

 


 

I think the motivating importance of the boy and his father was my own understanding really fully and perhaps for the first time how often civilians get caught in the middle of war, and that there is no protection, no screen--regardless of whose bullet killed him, there was a boy and his father caught and we saw it. This is a truth I think Frankie wants to convey, this is part of what she wants Americans to see and feel--that these are people, first and foremost, caught by war, caught by history. Sarah

 

 

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


Bonnie_C wrote:

Sarah,

This is a wonderful book for a discussion group.  Are you surprised at some of the reader's interpretations of the story?

 

Bonnie


 

 

Hi Bonnie,

 

It's been great so far to hear real thoughts from real live readers! I love how many directions the conversation seems to be moving--and so far, I haven't been surprised exactly, though I'll be very curious to hear what the book as a whole is made of, after everyone has finished.

 

Sarah

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


Peppermill wrote:

 


Choisya wrote:

Hi Sarah - another question:  Several readers, including myself, have been bemused by Iris' letter from the doctor proving her virginity.  In my 76 years I have never come across this idea either in real life or in fiction - could you tell us how you thought up this intriguing plot line?  It reminded me more of a modern certificate proving someone does not have AIDS rather than something a woman in the 1940s would have.


 

 

Choisya -- thx for this question -- it is one I would have placed, for much the same reason of not having heard of such an instance before, "in real life or in fiction."

 

I also wondered why Iris takes this action, but seems so unconcerned about the conventionality of marriage-- or have I missed something still coming in the reading?  Likewise, I don't understand why Emma wasn't embarrassed by her undergarments spilling across the street, yet she bursts into tears.  Is a distinction truly being made here between "embarrassed" and "ashamed" or are there other emotional motivations for Emma that I have missed?

 


 

 

Hi Peppermill--I'll hold off on the Iris and marriage question until you've finished the book. I think Emma was embarrassed by the clothes, embarrassed and ashamed--you remember she has to fight the urge to hurl herself on top of the strewn clothes. Really, I think she is mortified that this is her first appearance in the town and so nakedly. But I think, it's an important introduction of her given what's coming for her.

Sarah

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Choisya
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 

LOL Sarah!  What a strange mind you have:smileyvery-happy::smileyvery-happy:  I now predict that this is a tale which other authors will pick up on and that will in time become so apocryphal that folks will be telling it as gospel truth to their grandchildren:smileysurprised:.   Those of us who have read your book will be able to shake our heads wisely and say 'Oh No - that was first recorded in 2009 in a B&N First Look Book Club when we were discussing Sarah Blake's The Postmistress and she told us.....'  !!

Sarah-Blake wrote:

 


Choisya wrote:

Hi Sarah - another question:  Several readers, including myself, have been bemused by Iris' letter from the doctor proving her virginity.  In my 76 years I have never come across this idea either in real life or in fiction - could you tell us how you thought up this intriguing plot line?  It reminded me more of a modern certificate proving someone does not have AIDS rather than something a woman in the 1940s would have.


 

 

Hi Choisya--Iris's certificate was one of the very first scenes I wrote about her many years ago--it sprang entirely out of my head, and it told me so much about her, how she handled the doctor, how she judged his handwriting, etc. Her voice is so clear and so strong in that scene and it helped me think about what kind of person she was, and then if she sought something like this--which was clearly as surprising to the doctor as it was to you, that is I don't think anybody did this, except Iris James!--what did it mean that she would choose not to deliver a letter? What possibly would cause someone who goes to have her own virginity certified to break the rules as she does?--Sarah


 

 

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gold02
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Sarah,

 

I have truly been enjoying The Postmistress as my first First Look book!  Seeing your answers to questions here, such as the origin of the idea for Iris' "certificate", has clarified many things for me.

 

I was wondering if there was any particular book or source that helped with your research for Frankie's reports on the plight of the Jews in Europe?  I know you have mentioned the Holocaust Museum as one place you did research.  As a former history major, I always love a book that makes me interested in finding out more about a time period or event.

 

Thank you again for your involvement in our discussion!

 

Anne

 

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deannafrances
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

For whatever reason, when I first started the book I had a difficult time but I started it again 2 days ago and blazed right through and finished it at 5 AM this morning!!!   I must say the characters are what  drove me on, I have a real problem with reading books without someone to really enjoy and appreciate  as a human being. I am not much for reading about criminals or killers.

 

One of the first parts that compelled me onward was the scene around page 53 between Harry and Iris. It was so funny and sweet that he wanted to give her the mug and she rapped and unwrapped it.  Did you base this on an actual incident that your father or some older man did?

 

I thought the men in your book especially Harry and Fitch were made to be so kind and good I liked them both and just held my breath when the young doctor died.

 

I must tell you the childbirth scenes were hard to read, and yet i know if you look at old graveyards how many women died in childbirth. i never heard that expression form page 101--even good doctors have their little graveyards.  Is that an Esstern expression?  

 

i believe it was the little personal touches that made the book just jump off the page.

 

Curious why you didn't make the divisions between US and England switches a little clearer?

 

I predict good sales and a great movie--keep thr rights

and don't let them change it up

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Cobalt-blue4
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 

Choisya wrote:

Me again Sarah:smileyhappy::  Pursuant to my question about Iris' 'virginity certificate' I would like to ask what your thoughts were when you wrote the various sex scenes, especially Frankie's 'one night stand', which has been described here as gratuitous and unnecessary.  I felt it was realistic but hoped the man used a condom, for reasons I have described elsewhere.  


 Sarah Blake wrote:

I'm sure you've probably read other authors say this, but honestly so much that happens in a novel happens in the writing of it, happens that is, without being planned for--I didn't know what Iris was at the doctor for until I was in the middle of the scene; likewise the scene between Frankie and the man in the Savoy sprang out of the mood and the longing and the sound of the bombs I imagined and that's where they ended up. It seemed right for her and right given what was happening.

 

 

Sarah, was there a pun intended there?  You wrote "the scene between Frankie and the man in the Savoy sprang out of the mood..."    In the book, the sex scene sprang from the song, "In the Mood" that they were previously dancing to in the Savoy!  Ah! That is exactly what the song is about! Click below to read the lyrics.

 

http://www.lyricsdepot.com/glenn-miller/in-the-mood.html

 

 

 

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EiLvReedn
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Registered: ‎05-25-2007
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Hi,

I'm thoroughly enjoying your book. I say that a book has to have a "catch" in order to keep reading and yours does. Since we knew it was a WWII story that fact that it opens with a women in a Drs office makes one think what's that all about and you have to keep reading. I don't know how as a writer you cannot just keep writing a story (guess that's why I'm still just a reader), did you just have bits and pieces come to you when you wrote this book? or was it just that life got in the way that it took so long. I say this because you know now that this book is going to be published people are going to ask, when does the next book come out? Not too much pressure there. Ha! I agree with one of the other posters that this would make a good movie. I'm glad it's WWII also. I know there are still plenty of people alive that remember that war but I think it would be harder to imagine if some of it took place in Iraq or some of the current war places. Do you think that current events are what most authors use to get ideas for books from?

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Deltadawn
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Dear Sarah,

 

I would like to thank you very much for sharing this wonderful book with us here at the First Look club on Barnes & Noble.com (and for joining us in our discussions here, too)  - every aspect of the book is completely gripping. I find all the characters to be so real and have no trouble with the transitions of place and point of view - I find this to be a perfect way to tell this story. Though I find all the characters to be compelling, Frankie is the one whose experiences, thoughts and reactions, up to this point, I have found to be the most compelling and moving. I realize she just stepped off a bus into town in your first draft - but did you have any inspiration for this character at all - perhaps even as she evolved?

 

I am enjoying the book immensely and am eager to continue on with the reading and with the discussions here.

 

Thank you again.

All the best,

Dawn

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gl
Posts: 128
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Sarah,

 

I just wanted to add to the other voices thanking you and Barnes and Noble for making this book available to us. I confess that I wasn't able to keep to the schedule and finished the book in two days (last week). I don't want to inadvertently let anything slip. I did want to tell you that I enjoyed The Postmistress very much - the characters that I sympathized with from the start, like Iris, I grew to appreciate even more.  Frankie and Emma, who I was a bit frustrated with, I grew fond of as well.

 

I thought that your description of Frankie's interviews with the phonograph and the Austrian immigrant's story, were wonderfully done.  Thank you!

 

Congratulations on such a beautifully written first novel.

 

Best,
Gaby

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Alnilan
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Hi Sarah,

What a thrill to ask a question to the author before the book is published... thank you for this opportunity and thank you for your great book.

Since your characters are so richly crafted, I wondered, as I was reading, if at times they "took a life of their own" and changed the way the story developed or did they stay true to what you had in mind.

I also think this book could be made into a wonderful film - very strong visual contrasts and compelling story. Do you have any plans in this regard?

Answering a question you asked earlier, I think Frankie is in a way the Postmistress because she holds the letter that was never delivered and the messages/voices of the Jewish people.

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no4daughter
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-15-2007
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Thank you for allowing us an early read of your wonderful novel.  I really enjoyed it. 

 

I had fun "casting" the movie of "The Postmistress" in response to the Casting Call thread.  Ms. Blake, who would you cast? 

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


gold02 wrote:

Sarah,

 

I have truly been enjoying The Postmistress as my first First Look book!  Seeing your answers to questions here, such as the origin of the idea for Iris' "certificate", has clarified many things for me.

 

I was wondering if there was any particular book or source that helped with your research for Frankie's reports on the plight of the Jews in Europe?  I know you have mentioned the Holocaust Museum as one place you did research.  As a former history major, I always love a book that makes me interested in finding out more about a time period or event.

 

Thank you again for your involvement in our discussion!

 

Anne

 


 

 

Hi Anne,

 

I too, love a book that leads me deeper and deeper into a time period or event. There are countless books on the story of the Jews, but the more I worked on this story, I grew more and more interested in just what we knew over here, how much, what kind of knowledge etc. Two books: Deborah Lipstadt's Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, and Laurel Leff's Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper were crucial in my research. Also Victor Klemperer's I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years was a first hand account of the years leading up to the Final Solution.--Sarah

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Sarah-Blake
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

 


deannafrances wrote:

For whatever reason, when I first started the book I had a difficult time but I started it again 2 days ago and blazed right through and finished it at 5 AM this morning!!!   I must say the characters are what  drove me on, I have a real problem with reading books without someone to really enjoy and appreciate  as a human being. I am not much for reading about criminals or killers.

 

One of the first parts that compelled me onward was the scene around page 53 between Harry and Iris. It was so funny and sweet that he wanted to give her the mug and she rapped and unwrapped it.  Did you base this on an actual incident that your father or some older man did?

 

I thought the men in your book especially Harry and Fitch were made to be so kind and good I liked them both and just held my breath when the young doctor died.

 

I must tell you the childbirth scenes were hard to read, and yet i know if you look at old graveyards how many women died in childbirth. i never heard that expression form page 101--even good doctors have their little graveyards.  Is that an Esstern expression?  

 

i believe it was the little personal touches that made the book just jump off the page.

 

Curious why you didn't make the divisions between US and England switches a little clearer?

 

I predict good sales and a great movie--keep thr rights

and don't let them change it up


 

 

Hi Deanna,

 

I'm so glad you returned to the book! Like Iris's virginity certificate, the scene between Harry and Iris when he goes to mail her mug and she wraps and unwraps it just appeared as I was writing it. I loved his confusion and I loved her unknowingness, so I kept right on writing it. I overheard the phrase, "Even good doctors have their little graveyards," on the street one morning outside the paper store in Provincetown, Mass--so yes, it is an East Coast expression--but once I heard it, I had to use it! It helped me think about how Will Fitch would be handled gingerly after losing Maggie. 

 

The switches between England and America move back and forth sometimes in the same moment of time, and I wanted to signal that seamlessness, that overlap.

 

Sarah

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HannaintheTriad
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Registered: ‎09-02-2009
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Sarah - let me echo many of the posts by thanking you for sharing your work with us.  I truly enjoyed the book, and will be recommending it to my bookclub when it becomes available. 

 

I think you sum the soul of the book up so well in one of your other posts here - the small accidents of life are the things that turn your life on a dime. 

 

Here's my only question: Have you been approached to re-work the book as a screen-play? I think it would work very well as a feature film.

Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Questions for Sarah Blake?

Sarah,

 

I loved your book, thank your for sharing it with us.  You really made the characters come alive.

 

We have been asked which of the characters we like the most, so I will put the same question to you.  Which of these characters did you like the most?  Was there a character who surprised you? 

 

Also, did you have a say in the cover art?  It is beautiful and definitely would have made me pick up the book and read the inside flap.