#Review by Lou – The Post Office Girls by Poppy Cooper @Kirsten_Hesketh @hodderbooks #HistoricalFiction #WW1

The Post Office Girls
By Poppy Cooper

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Post Office Girls is full of characters you will want to get to know in a fascinating story that feels full of authenticity, with a Sunday period drama feel. Thanks to Hodder and Staughton for inviting me to review and for gifting the book.
Please follow through with the post to the blurb and my review.

Blurb

With the Great War raging, can they keep Britain going?

The Postoffice Girls cover1915. On Beth Healey’s eighteenth birthday, she hopes that she will be able to forget the ghastly war and celebrate. But that evening, her twin brother Ned announces that he has signed up to fight.

No longer able to stand working in her parents’ village shop while others are doing their bit, Beth applies to join the Army Post Office’s new Home Depot on the Regent’s Park, and is astounded to be accepted. She will be responsible for making sure that letters and parcels get through to the troops on the front line.

Beth is thrilled to be a crucial part of the war effort and soon makes friends with fellow post girls Milly and Nora, and meets the handsome James. But just as she begins to feel that her life has finally begun, everything starts falling apart, with devastating consequences for Beth and perhaps even the outcome of the war itself. Can Beth and her new friends keep it all together and find happiness at last?

The Post Office Girls is perfect for fans of Johanna Bell, Daisy Styles and Nancy Revell.

Review

The history that gave the inspiration behind this fictional story, which is the first in a brand new series, is truly fascinating. It’s worth reading the note by the author at the beginning of the book for this.

It’s Beth’s 18th birthday and its 1915 and has the formidable sounding Mrs McBride at the shop, where both of them work, on her case over butter. The scene with the tones of voices opens up magnificently.

It has the nostalgic air that you’d perhaps expect, but just manages not to be saccharine sweet. It does have a Sunday night, gentl-paced period drama feel about it, but doesn’t shy away from certain hard-hitting, home-truths about war here and there. It can be bit slow in places, but stay with it as a whole world opens up and it does become quite hard to put down.

The war is captured well, from those staying at home, in the rationing at the shop, a clever hint of people trying to, not quite bulk buy, but certainly buy a bit more than they need and not thinking of others and leaving enough of even flour to go around and the emotion of Beth from this, it’s like a subtle thought to people today, which I approve of; and Florence who had stepped out with Ralph, a footman from Maitland Hall who went out to fight and the worry about hearing from him and the excitement of letters when she does. It has a feel of authenticity and the scenes are picture perfect in Woodhampstead.

Beth later, travels to London as recruitment in Regent’s Park, where a mailing depot is set- up for army post, and encounters Sergeant Major Cunningham. The reactions of an 18 year old is captured well to the  Major, who had a very different life, as a postal worker before and all is new to Beth, who was a shopworker, now to work in the Home Depot, sorting through the mail coming in from soldiers.
You can feel her coil up a little and then ping into anger as she attempts to stand-up for herself. The empathy of soldiers at war and the letters that show signs of where they are and perhaps been whilst writing, further hits home to her. The details from an envelope and codes add interest and the interesting markings as each new chapter starts is too as are the letters between her brother Ned and her. She does however come across a gentler mannered man – Mr Blackford. Her achievement of getting an interview for the post hasn’t got the reaction she would have liked from her parents, different from today’s times, but very true of the times of the setting. 

There are a few twists that grab you further in, here and there and no more so than near the end, within the characters lives you will want to continue to get to know.

Readers of the book would do well to read the acknowledgements. It gives a fascinating insight into the research that was done for the book and some real-life photos of the women working in the Home-Depot.

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