Other Books in Series
This is book number 1 in the The Emmy Lake Chronicles series.
Emmeline Lake works as a secretary for a solicitor and volunteers at night as an operator for the fire rescue unit. When she sees a job opening at the newspaper, she imagines it’s her entrée into a world of war reporting. Alas, it’s assistant to the advice columnist (in British-speak, an Agony Aunt) at the dowdy woman’s magazine. What’s worse, the columnist is completely unwilling to address modern problems, and since she’s also Acting Editress, nobody’s in a position to get her to change. Emmeline so wants to help the readers, but she can barely address her own problems. Did I mention that all of this is happening during the London Blitz? It seems so old-fashioned to offer plucky enthusiasm as a tonic for war’s ills, but it is the right tone for Dear Mrs. Bird, which becomes not just a coming-to-adulthood tale, but a lovely story of friendship.— Daniel Goldin
Set in London during the Blitz, depicting both heartrending scenes of nightly bombing raids and heartwarming portraits of indomitable wartime friendships, this is the story of young, idealistic Emmeline Lake, who aspires to become a Lady War Correspondent. Encouraged by her best friend Bunty, Emmeline accepts a job in journalism only to be assigned as a junior typist at Woman’s Friend magazine to the demanding advice columnist, Mrs.Henrietta Bird, who ignores any women’s letters of “Unpleasantness” topics. Sympathetic to “The Confused’ and “In A Muddle” letters from women writing for help, Emmeline secretly sends replies and signs the name of her boss. Will Emmeline’s misplaced benevolence be offset by her consoling offer of hope at a time when the stiff upper lip of the British is beginning to twitch? For those readers who loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, this is your next read. Perfectly capturing the moments of normalcy amid wartime chaos for the women left behind, this is a debut novel that will touch every reader’s heart. WELL DONE YOU, AJ Pearce!— Jane Glaser
August 2018 Indie Next List
“What initially seems like a breezy career girl story quickly turns into a gripping novel set in the WWII London blitzkrieg. During the nightly bombing runs, Emmeline volunteers at a nearby fire dispatch center. She dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead lands a day job screening advice-seeking letters for a weekly magazine, Woman’s Friend. All too soon, she and her friends become victims of the bombings and must deal with losses and new horrors each night. In Dear Mrs. Bird, AJ Pearce has given us a most memorable story about both the visible and hidden casualties of war. Recommended for all, including book clubs!”
— Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA
Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“A plucky young British woman in London during the Blitz dreams of becoming a war correspondent. In her inglorious first job as a typist for a women’s advice columnist, she manages to do a lot of good while getting into lots of trouble. Dear Mrs. Bird is very entertaining, with a balance of comedy and pathos. This is a great choice for a summer read.”
— Patty Mullins, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY
This charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about a young woman who longs to be a war correspondent and inadvertently becomes a secret advice columnist is “a jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People)—for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.
Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are doing their bit for the war effort and trying to stay cheerful, despite the German planes making their nightly raids. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance; but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, renowned advice columnist of Woman’s Friend magazine.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who many have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she begins to secretly write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
“Fans of Jojo Moyes will enjoy AJ Pearce’s debut, with its plucky female characters and fresh portrait of women’s lives in wartime Britain” (Library Journal)—a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times. “Headlined by its winning lead character, who always keeps carrying on, Pearce's novel is a delight” (Publishers Weekly). Irrepressibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs. Bird is “funny and poignant…about the strength of women and the importance of friendship” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
About the Author
AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire, England. She studied at the University of Sussex and Northwestern University. A chance discovery of a 1939 women’s magazine became the inspiration for her international bestseller, Dear Mrs. Bird, the first novel in The Emmy Lake Chronicles series. She lives in the south of England.
“Funny, fresh, and touching, Dear Mrs. Bird is a pitch-perfect pleasure. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to read a book that seems to live properly in its era.”
—Annie Barrows, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
“A marvelous treat. Charming and delightful.”
—Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina
“A joy from start to finish. Dear Mrs. Bird is as funny as it is heartwarming.”
—John Boyne, author of The Heart's Invisible Furies
"I relished every moment of Dear Mrs. Bird. What a joy! Hilarious, heartwarming, and unutterably charming."
—Jennifer Ryan, author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
“Charming and funny.”
—New York Post
“There is more to this very English novel than first meets the eye . . . a delightful read — funny and poignant . . . It is about the home front during war, yes, but even more it is about the strength of women, the importance of friendship and the toll of stoicism.
—Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Vividly evocative of wartime life… a very English tribute to the women of the homefront.” —Kirkus
“Fans of Jojo Moyes will enjoy Pearce’s debut, with its plucky female characters and fresh portrait of women’s lives in wartime Britain.”
"Set against a backdrop of war-torn London, this is a charming and heartfelt novel. Pearce brings to life a tale of true friendship, and how love will outlast even the most challenging times."
"The sweetest, most uplifting, lovely book about courage, friendship, love."
"Clever... The novel has a wonderfully droll tone, a reminder of the exuberance of youth even under dire circumstances. Headlined by its winning lead character, who always keeps carrying on, Pearce’s novel is a delight."
"Emmeline Lake, the heroine of Dear Mrs. Bird, is the most endearing character to emerge from the world of British fiction since Bridget Jones. She’s funny, she’s indefatigable, and she faces the worst of circumstances with the pluckiest of resolves. You cannot help but love her."—Kimmery Martin, author of The Queen of Hearts
"A winning wartime romp, as hilarious as it is moving . . . the novel's spirit is madly winning, and its foregrounding of wartime women seems spiffingly modern."
“Books that make you shake with laughter and sob with tears are rare. I gulped this one down but didn’t stop thinking about it for a long time.”
—Katie Fforde, author of A Secret Garden
“Utterly charming and helplessly funny.”
—Jenny Colgan, author of The Bookshop on the Corner
“Perfect wartime details, but it’s the voice that really makes this debut shine. A tragicomedy set amid falling bombs, it’s a jaunty, heartbreaking winner.”