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
An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist-a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a lady war correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have gone too far with the wrong men, or who can't bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.