Dear Mrs Bird
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.

Dear Mrs Bird Details

TitleDear Mrs Bird
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 5th, 2018
PublisherPicador Books
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II, European Literature, British Literature

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Dear Mrs Bird Review

  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Emmeline Lake takes the bus home from work carrying her handbag, gas mask, and an onion (for stew). She dreams of becoming a war correspondent or a journalist covering political intrigue. Discovering a newspaper ad for part-time work at The London Evening Chronicle, she believes the world is her oyster. Wrong! Part-time work will fit in with Emmy's job three nights a week as a volunteer telephone operator for the Auxiliary Fire Service. It is 1940. London is being blitzed regularly by the Luftwa Emmeline Lake takes the bus home from work carrying her handbag, gas mask, and an onion (for stew). She dreams of becoming a war correspondent or a journalist covering political intrigue. Discovering a newspaper ad for part-time work at The London Evening Chronicle, she believes the world is her oyster. Wrong! Part-time work will fit in with Emmy's job three nights a week as a volunteer telephone operator for the Auxiliary Fire Service. It is 1940. London is being blitzed regularly by the Luftwaffe. Emmy is dumbfounded when she finds out the job of her dreams is nothing more than a junior typist job. She has been hired to type responses written in a column of Woman's Friend Magazine. Cantankerous Mrs. Bird picks and chooses which letters are worthy of a written response in her column "Henrietta Helps".Emmy has been hired to say nothing at all. Mrs. Bird maintains a list of "unacceptable" topics. Letters mentioning divorce, unhappiness and intimacy are among the unmentionables to be cut up and sent to the bin. But, war is hell on the home front,too! Emmy secretly decides to send kindly responses to women desperate enough to write in.The gallantry of the Fire Brigade cannot go unnoticed. One evening, a fire blazes out of control in a building now teetering on collapse. Members of the Fire Brigade enter the rubble, pulling out a frightened little girl and her brother. Just seconds before total collapse of the structure, a fireman is pulled out with something shielded in a blanket. The little girl's doll."Dear Mrs. Bird" is a novel that runs the gamut of feelings and emotions experienced by our narrator, Emmy, in this work of historical fiction. Make no mistake, author A.J. Pearce, in her debut novel, possesses the gift of transporting us to wartime London. We are concerned for the well being and safety of its residents. "Dear Mrs. Bird" by A.J. Pearce is a lovely, heartfelt read that I highly recommend.Thank you Scribner Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Dear Mrs. Bird".
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    A fizzy, frothy little novel that takes place in London during WWII. That is, it’s frivolous until it isn’t. With bombings occurring nightly there is bound to be sadness and tears. The main character, Emmeline, is a shoe-in for Honeysuckle Weeks as Samantha Stewart in Foyle’s War. She has spunk to spare. Emmy lands a job and behaves in ways that are less than ethical despite her intention to be helpful. Filled with Britishisms of the 1940’s, I could have Done Without the capitalizations which I A fizzy, frothy little novel that takes place in London during WWII. That is, it’s frivolous until it isn’t. With bombings occurring nightly there is bound to be sadness and tears. The main character, Emmeline, is a shoe-in for Honeysuckle Weeks as Samantha Stewart in Foyle’s War. She has spunk to spare. Emmy lands a job and behaves in ways that are less than ethical despite her intention to be helpful. Filled with Britishisms of the 1940’s, I could have Done Without the capitalizations which I found patronizing and rather annoying. Otherwise this is humorous and enjoyable summer reading
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  • abby
    January 1, 1970
    "I had taken entirely the wrong job."Emmy Lake *thinks* she's interviewing for a war correspondent job. Finally, she will become the hard hitting journalist she's always dreamed of. But she doesn't quite pay attention enough during her job interview to realize she's really taking a typist position at a stodgy women's magazine. Far from being on the front lines, she'll be producing copy of Henrietta Helps, an advice column that does not offer much useful advice at all. Henrietta refuses to deal a "I had taken entirely the wrong job."Emmy Lake *thinks* she's interviewing for a war correspondent job. Finally, she will become the hard hitting journalist she's always dreamed of. But she doesn't quite pay attention enough during her job interview to realize she's really taking a typist position at a stodgy women's magazine. Far from being on the front lines, she'll be producing copy of Henrietta Helps, an advice column that does not offer much useful advice at all. Henrietta refuses to deal any reader problems that involve so-called "unpleasantness," which is just about anything apart from table settings and nylons. Feeling boxed in by restriction in a job she didn't mean to take and wanting to help the women who write in desperate for advice, Emmy starts impersonating Henrietta and responding to letters. It's a victim-less crime. Right?This book is charming a lot of fun. It's chick-lit meets the London Blitz. The only real detraction is the random capitalization of words and phrases that's A Bit Strange. Readers who enjoy fluffy books now and again will find a lot to love about Dear Mrs. Bird.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Emmeline Lake and her friend, Bunty, live in London. It is 1940 and the Germans are making rather a nuisance of themselves, but neither are downhearted. In fact, Emmy has big dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent and, when she sees an advert for part-time work at the London Evening Chronicle, she writes off with high hopes. However, before long, she realises that her Enthusiasm (there are a lot of Capital Letters in this book) has meant that she has rushed in without thinking. Rather than fin Emmeline Lake and her friend, Bunty, live in London. It is 1940 and the Germans are making rather a nuisance of themselves, but neither are downhearted. In fact, Emmy has big dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent and, when she sees an advert for part-time work at the London Evening Chronicle, she writes off with high hopes. However, before long, she realises that her Enthusiasm (there are a lot of Capital Letters in this book) has meant that she has rushed in without thinking. Rather than finding herself on the first rung of the ladder towards journalism, she is stuck typing up letters for agony aunt, Mrs Bird – who runs the ‘Henrietta Helps,’ column for “Woman’s Friend,” a magazine, which shares nothing with the London Evening Chronicle, other than offices in the same building.To be honest, when the first question at her interview was, “are you easily scared?” Emmy should have been fore-warned about her new employer. Apart from shouting a lot, Mrs Bird does very little. She does, however, insist that letters which refer to any kind of Unpleasantness, are thrown in the bin. Such unacceptable topics include marital relations, pre-marital relations, extra-marital relations, physical relations, politics or illegal activities. Before long, Emmy, bemoaning the fact that the agony column is not really helping anyone, begins to answer the letters herself…This debut novel is funny, moving, charming and paints a wonderfully evocative portrait of wartime London. As well as telling a story with great humour, the author also shows how the war caused all kinds of social, and personal, upheaval. Although Mrs Bird’s advice was that everyone should Buck Up and Get On With Things, these unprecedented events did mean that life was, largely, thrown into disarray for most of the inhabitants of the country. She also shows the bravery of those on the Home Front, who faced the bombings, upheaval and shortages with fortitude and a complete inability to accept that things would not work out in the end. I adored this novel and received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, for which many thanks are due.
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  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    January 1, 1970
    4 Stars. This one is charming.Full review to follow on March 22, 2018, two weeks before publication.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsDear Mrs. Bird is a Gem of a Book. A.J. Pearce uses a clever writing style and capitalizes the protagonist Emmy Lake’s expressions that are Important or Exciting which makes for an entertaining and enjoyable read. As the book begins in 1940 London, Emmy shows up for a newspaper interview thinking the position is for a lady war correspondent when instead the position is to sort through letters written to a Dear Abby type named Mrs. Bird. Unhappy with Mrs. Bird’s position on many of the l 4.5 starsDear Mrs. Bird is a Gem of a Book. A.J. Pearce uses a clever writing style and capitalizes the protagonist Emmy Lake’s expressions that are Important or Exciting which makes for an entertaining and enjoyable read. As the book begins in 1940 London, Emmy shows up for a newspaper interview thinking the position is for a lady war correspondent when instead the position is to sort through letters written to a Dear Abby type named Mrs. Bird. Unhappy with Mrs. Bird’s position on many of the letters she receives (and Mrs. Bird’s refusal to answer any that she deems unpleasant), Emmy decides to secretly answer some of the truly desperate letters, and the tale unfolds from there.Based on the book’s blurb, I was expecting a light-hearted read when in fact the story is thought-provoking, occasionally heart-wrenching, and simply beautiful. Pearce’s descriptions of blitzed and war torn London are so vivid that at times I felt I was right there with Emmy and her friends. The plot is Creative and Original, and I am so glad I read Dear Mrs. Bird. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more from A.J. Pearce. I received the book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Rebecca Foster
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5) If you loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I have just the book for you: another feel-good World War II-set novel with characters you’ll love and cheer for. London, December 1940: Twenty-two-year-old Emmeline Lake dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent, but for now she’ll start by typing up the letters submitted to Henrietta Bird’s advice column in Woman’s Friend. All too quickly, though, the job starts to feel too small for Emmy. Mrs. Bird refuses to print letters o (3.5) If you loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I have just the book for you: another feel-good World War II-set novel with characters you’ll love and cheer for. London, December 1940: Twenty-two-year-old Emmeline Lake dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent, but for now she’ll start by typing up the letters submitted to Henrietta Bird’s advice column in Woman’s Friend. All too quickly, though, the job starts to feel too small for Emmy. Mrs. Bird refuses to print letters on any Unpleasant subjects, which could be anything from an inappropriate crush to anxiety. She thinks her cowardly readers bring their troubles on themselves and need to just buck up instead of looking to other people for help. (Gosh, she’d make a great U.S. Republican!) But Emmy can’t bear to throw hurting people’s missives away. Perhaps she could send them some advice of her own?Emmy shares a flat with her best friend Bunty, and they each have a fiancé who is part of the war effort. As a volunteer for the Fire Brigade, Emmy sees the effects of Luftwaffe bombings up close. But it’s only after heartache hits home for both of these young women that they really understand how much is at stake in the war. The novel got a little melodramatic for me in its last quarter, but it’s overall a charming “Keep Calm and Carry On” and Stick It to Hitler-style story that never strays far from jollity for too long.Other readalikes: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff and The Night Watch by Sarah WatersSome favorite lines:“I told myself we could all get blown up by tomorrow so we might just as well enjoy ourselves.”“Granny didn’t spend half her life chaining herself to railings for today’s woman to moon around waiting for some chap to look after her.”
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Mrs. Bird opens in a jolly, lively style full of ‘chin up’ and ‘stiff upper lip’ spirit – a spirit of which the domineering (and let’s be honest, quite frightful) Mrs. Henrietta Bird would be proud. As far as Mrs. Bird is concerned, any problem can be resolved by showing the right amount of grit and by not giving in. However, beneath the spirit of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, the book demonstrates, through the letters sent to Woman’s Friend magazine, the impact of war on people’s personal live Dear Mrs. Bird opens in a jolly, lively style full of ‘chin up’ and ‘stiff upper lip’ spirit – a spirit of which the domineering (and let’s be honest, quite frightful) Mrs. Henrietta Bird would be proud. As far as Mrs. Bird is concerned, any problem can be resolved by showing the right amount of grit and by not giving in. However, beneath the spirit of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, the book demonstrates, through the letters sent to Woman’s Friend magazine, the impact of war on people’s personal lives. ‘Women whose worlds had been turned upside down by war, who missed their husbands, or got lonely and fell in love with the wrong man Or who were just young and naive and had their heads turned in a trying time.’ Not just the constant air raids and the rationing but the displacement, separation and loneliness, life plans are changed – engagements, marriages, even conceptions delayed or brought forward - because who knows what tomorrow will bring or if there will even be one? Emmy’s friendship with Bunty is what helps her get through the days – that and the occasional luxury of a Garibaldi biscuit, a fig roll or a bath in more than an inch of lukewarm water. But as events unfold, that friendship will be tested. The reader is transported to a time when people still wrote letters and used them to express their feelings. As Emmy notes, ‘I could see people were ever so frank when they wrote in, which I thought was quite brave.’ The importance of letters to those serving away from home comes across clearly, providing those receiving them with details of ‘normal life’ to which they can cling; a reminder of what they are fighting for.The resilience shown by Emmy, her friends and work colleagues reminds us of the courage and fortitude of the people of London during the blitz. ‘Mother always worried about how we kept going. I had no idea. We just did.’ Oh, and the often underappreciated role of tea in sustaining the war effort. Humour as well plays a key role in maintaining morale and there are some very funny bits in the book, such as Bunty’s and Emmy’s plan to use the hideous globe-shaped drinks cabinet bequeathed to them by Bunty’s grandmother as an offensive weapon. ‘Bunty and I had decided that if the Germans invaded London and broke in, we would push it down the stairs at them. The full extent of the British Empire was featured in a rather confident orange and we thought that would make them wonderfully cross.’ Dear Mrs. Bird also acts as a reminder of the important role played by women in World War 2 – manning fire station telephones (like Emmy), acting as dispatch riders and couriers, serving in the Women’s Voluntary Service, Red Cross, Land Army and so much more. And that constant danger wasn’t only faced by those serving on the front line but by men who served in the Fire Service and Bomb Disposal on the home front. As the book progresses, the tone changes and darkness comes, showing the true costs of war, the horrors of the blitz (‘noise was coming from everywhere at once, as if we were being eaten by the very sound itself’) and the fact that sometimes ‘carrying on’ just isn’t enough. ‘Stiff upper lips and getting on with things were all very well, but sometimes there was nothing to do but admit that things were quite simply awful. War was foul and appalling and unfair.’This makes it sound like Dear Mrs. Bird is a depressing book; far from it. It is funny, charming and heart-warming. The narrative voice sets the tone of the book delightfully: ‘The sun had pulled its socks up and was making a good effort in the almost cloudless winter sky’. However, I liked that the author wasn’t afraid to feature darker moments amongst the light-hearted elements (because, of course, the cloudless winter sky just mentioned would be a gift to the Luftwaffe bombers.) I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers, Picador, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Tania
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very sweet story set in WWII. Initially I thought this was too sweet for my taste, but because the author did such a brilliant job with creating a sense of time and place I stuck with it. I am very glad I did, as the characters were warm and funny and in the end I understood that what I saw as sweetness was how the British nation survived the daily attacks, fear and loss. So although not my normal genre I loved learning more about this part of the war effort. Would make a wonderful mo This was a very sweet story set in WWII. Initially I thought this was too sweet for my taste, but because the author did such a brilliant job with creating a sense of time and place I stuck with it. I am very glad I did, as the characters were warm and funny and in the end I understood that what I saw as sweetness was how the British nation survived the daily attacks, fear and loss. So although not my normal genre I loved learning more about this part of the war effort. Would make a wonderful movie.The Story: Dear Mrs Bird is set in wartime London in 1941. The plot follows protagonist Emmeline Lake who, amid the falling bombs, dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. However, instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Day magazine. Mrs Bird is so resolutely against any form of Unpleasantness that she dismisses letters from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted in favour of those who feel their ankles are unsightly or have had trouble untangling a length of wool. But Emmy can’t bear to think of women with genuine fears and worries going unanswered, and soon decides the only thing for it is to write back secretly...
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  • Anmiryam
    January 1, 1970
    As you might expect, this was sweet, charming, more than a bit twee and I consumed the whole thing in a plane ride and a bit. I always read novels like this, which confirms my status as a less than literary reader. I bet, however, you have dirty little secrets of a less than highbrow life. Do you watch The Bachelor? Do you binge on HGTV? I'm sure not everything you read is on a par with Ali Smith (who is awesome). So there it is, you watch silly TV or aimlessly troll the web for videos of cats w As you might expect, this was sweet, charming, more than a bit twee and I consumed the whole thing in a plane ride and a bit. I always read novels like this, which confirms my status as a less than literary reader. I bet, however, you have dirty little secrets of a less than highbrow life. Do you watch The Bachelor? Do you binge on HGTV? I'm sure not everything you read is on a par with Ali Smith (who is awesome). So there it is, you watch silly TV or aimlessly troll the web for videos of cats while I read twee English novels set during the blitz. All I can say, Pearce's novel is far, far better than the Bachelor -- if for no other reason than the Bachelors on the show are static chatacters, but the heroine of Pearce's debut, Emmeline, evolves, developing a greater sense of empathy as her noble misdeeds lead to misunderstandings, new chances at love, and a thawing of the illusion of English stoicism. If you like this sort of read, you will enjoy DEAR MRS. BIRD. If you don't you won't, but I am quite sure I know there are a lot of readers who will leave you to watch bad reality TV alone while they spend a few twee, nostalgic hours with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty.
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  • Laura Kemp
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Mrs Bird is simply gorgeous. It’s a war time romp of mishaps, comedy, fun and tragedy, spun deliciously as if it was made for a series. It’s perfect pick-you-up reading with compassion at its heart. A joy to read. I’d love to see it turned into a TV drama too.
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  • Karen Whittard
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved this quirky, fun read. In this book we meet Emmeline who quits her job as a waitress to become a lady war correspondence. But when she applies for a job and gets it. Things are not quite what they seem. She has unwittingly taken a job to be a helper to a contacetous Mrs Bird. Who writes a self help column. But Mrs bird refuses to answer any letters relating to lots of subjects that she finds risqué. Deciding to take matters into her own hands Emmeline starts writing back to al I absolutely loved this quirky, fun read. In this book we meet Emmeline who quits her job as a waitress to become a lady war correspondence. But when she applies for a job and gets it. Things are not quite what they seem. She has unwittingly taken a job to be a helper to a contacetous Mrs Bird. Who writes a self help column. But Mrs bird refuses to answer any letters relating to lots of subjects that she finds risqué. Deciding to take matters into her own hands Emmeline starts writing back to all the letters. Soon the magazine is booming like never before. But Emmeline love life is just getting more and more complicated. This feel good read should be on everyone’s to read list and I am sure that it will be spoken about everywhere when it is released in 2018. I loved it.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    This WW2 historical novel covers a lot of familiar ground but has a fresh twist and a lighter tone because of the principal character's career challenges . Instead of accepting disappointment when a job in journalism wasn't what she expected it to be, our protagonist takes a creative approach to her clerical position and the complications (and fun) ensue.The story has lots of light moments, but any novel set in London during the Blitz is going to have a serious side too. Dear Mrs. Bird reminds t This WW2 historical novel covers a lot of familiar ground but has a fresh twist and a lighter tone because of the principal character's career challenges . Instead of accepting disappointment when a job in journalism wasn't what she expected it to be, our protagonist takes a creative approach to her clerical position and the complications (and fun) ensue.The story has lots of light moments, but any novel set in London during the Blitz is going to have a serious side too. Dear Mrs. Bird reminds the reader that neighborhood after neighborhood in London were endangered on a regular basis and very few lives were untouched by the war. Young women routinely lost their sweethearts and men who were not enlisted felt inferior for not being on the battlefield defending their country.Although the story was predictable in many ways, it was also satisfying and well-paced. A. J. Pearce's characters were beautifully crafted and I thoroughly enjoyed this light historical novel.NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jessica Gilmore
    January 1, 1970
    A few years ago I went on a writing retreat and one of the other people there mentioned the book she was working on - a book set in WW2 based around the problem page of a magazine. How interesting thinks I and forgets all about said book until the author pops up on Twitter having sold it as her debut. And this, dear readers, is that book. Let me just make it clear that a fleeting acquaintance three years ago hasn't influenced this review a jot. This is a clear and unbiased review.Dear Mrs Bird i A few years ago I went on a writing retreat and one of the other people there mentioned the book she was working on - a book set in WW2 based around the problem page of a magazine. How interesting thinks I and forgets all about said book until the author pops up on Twitter having sold it as her debut. And this, dear readers, is that book. Let me just make it clear that a fleeting acquaintance three years ago hasn't influenced this review a jot. This is a clear and unbiased review.Dear Mrs Bird is a beautifully written, original and poignant book set in the nineteen forties. What really sets it apart is the absolutely fantastic narration. AJ Pearce doesn't just tell us or even show us how Emmy (the heroine) feels, she inhabits her so completely that every word feels as if it comes straight from Emmy's diaries. At no point do I feel that I'm not reading the authentic voice of a young woman in the early 1940s. The cultural references, the tone, the morals, the slang - the gorgeous slang - the preoccupations, the sights, smells, fears and joys of the London Blitz are vividly brought to life and real. The book reminded me in that way of Eve Rice's The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets (and there can be no higher praise) in the way the past is so perfectly conjured up. It is superbly done. Emmy lives with her friend Bunty (real name Marigold) in a flat near Pimlico. The war is raging and the two young women juggle jobs with their volunteer duties. Emmy spends three nights a week volunteering for the fire service whilst dreaming of being a war correspondent. When she sees an advertisement for a Junior at a leading paper she knows this is her chance - only to find herself not a junior correspondent in a busy newsroom but a typist for a failing women's magazine. Gamely she sticks it out hoping it might lead to Better Things, braving the terrifying Mrs Bird who runs the magazine and who answers the readers' letters on her advice page. But Mrs Bird is very strict - there mus be No Nastiness in her paper and so many problems go unanswered. Emmy is one of life's fixers and destroying the unanswered problems gets harder and harder. Surely there must be something she can do...Emmy is a really engaging heroine - the book is full of fully-realised characters. My new literary crush is the dishevelled Mr. Collins, journalist, writer and, according to Emmy, mortifyingly old at around forty five, but I am also very fond of Roy, firefighter with a nifty foxtrot and poor Clarence the Post Boy with a Crush. I really can't recommend this absolute delight of a book enough. Fingers crossed there is a sequel (with a lot of Mr Collins in it!) because I would love to know just what Emmy Does Next.
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  • Kate Moore
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as an advanced reading copy through work, not having a clue what to expect and not being particularly drawn in by the title. What I didn’t expect, was to be moved to tears of laughter and sadness — more so than any other book I’ve read this year. This book is simply stunning.Set in 1940s London, Emmy takes a job she hopes will be a step in the direction of ‘Lady War Correspondent,’ instead typing out letters for a struggling magazine’s ‘agony aunt,’ Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird refuse I received this book as an advanced reading copy through work, not having a clue what to expect and not being particularly drawn in by the title. What I didn’t expect, was to be moved to tears of laughter and sadness — more so than any other book I’ve read this year. This book is simply stunning.Set in 1940s London, Emmy takes a job she hopes will be a step in the direction of ‘Lady War Correspondent,’ instead typing out letters for a struggling magazine’s ‘agony aunt,’ Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird refuses to respond to any real problems, and the problems she does respond to are dealt with in a harsh way. Emmy decides to take matters in to her own hands. There are sub-plots circulating around the main plot, without a single dull moment. I can see this as a successful tv series. The author manages to write about war times with such hope, light, and natural humour, you can’t help but feel a great warmth inside. I was laughing out loud at regular intervals. The characters are strong, and connect beautifully with one another. Toward the end, there were tears of sadness and empathy. It affected me. For a first novel, Dear Mrs Bird is expertly written. A superbly crafted novel, and a tribute to being human.
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  • Rona
    January 1, 1970
    Oh this is a truly lovely book. The sort of book you want to cuddle. It made me laugh and cry and laugh again. The characters were beautifully drawn and very relateable, the story was wonderfully original and the setting was brilliantly constructed. It is set at the start of WWII and follows the fortunes of Emmy, a young woman, who starts a job as an assistant to an agony aunt in a failing magazine. Through readers letters and Emmy's own experiences, you really get a feel for what life was like, Oh this is a truly lovely book. The sort of book you want to cuddle. It made me laugh and cry and laugh again. The characters were beautifully drawn and very relateable, the story was wonderfully original and the setting was brilliantly constructed. It is set at the start of WWII and follows the fortunes of Emmy, a young woman, who starts a job as an assistant to an agony aunt in a failing magazine. Through readers letters and Emmy's own experiences, you really get a feel for what life was like, the pain of separation, the terror of the bombing and the need To Keep Your Chin Up and Crack On, regardless. Having said that, this is, on the whole a cheerful book, with a heart-warming theme. The author has such a talent for describing awkward moments with an understated charm, it made me laugh out loud. I loved her use of language and the way she capitalised the sayings of the time. Utterly delightful.My thanks to Net Galley, Pan MacMillan and the author for an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    When I was growing up, we had Dear Abby in the newspaper. There was also Anne Landers. People would write letters in, about their troubles, and the advice columnists would well, give advice. Sometimes it was cleaver, sometimes sad, sometimes funny. To this day I still read advice columnists, and try to see if their answers match mine. In the UK, they were/are known as Agony Aunts, and in this book, there is one such advisor, who is very firmly set in her ways, which appear to the turn of the 19t When I was growing up, we had Dear Abby in the newspaper. There was also Anne Landers. People would write letters in, about their troubles, and the advice columnists would well, give advice. Sometimes it was cleaver, sometimes sad, sometimes funny. To this day I still read advice columnists, and try to see if their answers match mine. In the UK, they were/are known as Agony Aunts, and in this book, there is one such advisor, who is very firmly set in her ways, which appear to the turn of the 19th century.Emmy is only hired to type the letters, but as the blurb about the book says, she starts replying on her own, because Mrs. Bird refuses to touch the problems that young women are having, during the bombing of London, during WWII. She refuses to answer any questions that are about relationships, or about sadness, or anything helpful. This book pulled at my heart strings, made me cry, even if I guessed what was going to happen, which I did, and was a “jolly good read”. The author said she was inspired by reading magazines from the war years, and all the problems that women were coping with from 1939-1945. It is amazing what they had to put up with, and this is covered as way of course in the story, worked in well. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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  • Lucy
    January 1, 1970
    I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. Set against the background of the blitz, Emmy Lake aspires to be a journalist and is beyond excitement when she gains a job at the London Evening Chronicle - however, she's mistaken and the job is actually with its sister magazine Woman's Friend. Emmy is employed as a junior typist to Mrs Bird, who writes the advice column. Gradually Emmy starts to push against boundaries, and takes it upon herself to start answering the "Dear Mrs Bird I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. Set against the background of the blitz, Emmy Lake aspires to be a journalist and is beyond excitement when she gains a job at the London Evening Chronicle - however, she's mistaken and the job is actually with its sister magazine Woman's Friend. Emmy is employed as a junior typist to Mrs Bird, who writes the advice column. Gradually Emmy starts to push against boundaries, and takes it upon herself to start answering the "Dear Mrs Bird" letters. After tragedy strikes in the Blitz, Emmy's letter writing is uncovered - how will the chairman of the board deal with her? Can she restore lost friendships and keep her own romance going? A sweet and beautiful debut novel.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely read showing the importance of fun, family and friendship in some of the hardest times. Dear Mrs Bird is filled with wonderful genuine characters and laugh out loud moments help offset the air raid and bombing events that must have been terrifying to experience and are described so vividly. The main character, Emmy, is hilarious and seems to be so genuine in her desire to help those people who write in with their problems despite probably not having a clue what they are going through. H A lovely read showing the importance of fun, family and friendship in some of the hardest times. Dear Mrs Bird is filled with wonderful genuine characters and laugh out loud moments help offset the air raid and bombing events that must have been terrifying to experience and are described so vividly. The main character, Emmy, is hilarious and seems to be so genuine in her desire to help those people who write in with their problems despite probably not having a clue what they are going through. Her efforts leave her in a situation that seems a bit hopeless but leave you reading later than you should as you want to see how it all ends up.
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  • Beverley
    January 1, 1970
    Easily the best book I have read this year! This wonderful novel drew me in instantly - I really couldn't put it down and was totally bereft to leave it behind at the finish. Emmy's WW2 London is so evocatively portrayed ( I absolutely loved the clever use of so many typical 1940s phrases) it had me smiling, laughing out loud and close to tears so many times. A feel good story despite all the death and destruction going on around. As Emmy would say - 'chin up and crack on' - is the theme of this Easily the best book I have read this year! This wonderful novel drew me in instantly - I really couldn't put it down and was totally bereft to leave it behind at the finish. Emmy's WW2 London is so evocatively portrayed ( I absolutely loved the clever use of so many typical 1940s phrases) it had me smiling, laughing out loud and close to tears so many times. A feel good story despite all the death and destruction going on around. As Emmy would say - 'chin up and crack on' - is the theme of this remarkable piece of fiction.
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  • Felicia
    January 1, 1970
    A tribute to the brave women who were Left Behind during WWII. I can’t remember another book that had me laughing from one page and in tears the next. I wish there is a sequel because I’m not ready yet to let Emmy, Bunty, Kath, and Mr Collins go.
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  • Grace J Reviewerlady
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Mrs Bird sums up the spirit of the British people during WWII very neatly. The shortages, the sacrifices and the determination to keep going and 'do your bit' shine throughout this book.Emmeline Lake shares a London flat with her best friend Bunty who works for the War Office. Emmy dreams of working as a war correspondent and sees her interview at Launceston Press as a first step on the ladder. Whilst she daydreams her way through the interview, she misses the most important part and it com Dear Mrs Bird sums up the spirit of the British people during WWII very neatly. The shortages, the sacrifices and the determination to keep going and 'do your bit' shine throughout this book.Emmeline Lake shares a London flat with her best friend Bunty who works for the War Office. Emmy dreams of working as a war correspondent and sees her interview at Launceston Press as a first step on the ladder. Whilst she daydreams her way through the interview, she misses the most important part and it comes as a shock to find herself installed as a junior in the offices of the Woman's Friend and in particular dealing with the correspondence of Mrs Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of this struggling magazine.As well as following Emmy's career, this novel also follows her home life and war efforts as well as her friendship with Bunty, and both their romantic lives. In particular, I loved the language used and stifled many giggles at the phrases with Capital Letters when reading in bed next to my sleeping other half! The author has the flavour of the people in the street spot on in my opinion - and although I wasn't around during the war, I have read an awful lot of books set during that time.This is both entertaining, funny and moving; the type of read where you get really involved with and care about the characters. As well as the giggles, I also shed a tear or two and it's not every book which leads me to that! A truly wonderful read, honest to the period and one I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on. I'm rather astonished that this is a first novel and have no hesitation in recommending this - in the spirit of the novel - as a Jolly Good Read!!My grateful thanks to publishers Pan Macmillan for approving my copy via NetGalley. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    AJ Pearce’s debut novel Dear Mrs. Bird is a touching look into the lives of several twenty-somethings living in London amidst the blitz of 1940. The protagonist Emmy Lake has always wanted to enter the exciting world of journalism, and with the war on, she sees herself reporting in the most dangerous of locations. But the job she interviews for and accepts is far from dangerous and far from what she expected. Emmy’s new position entails combing through the mail of a cantankerous advice columnist AJ Pearce’s debut novel Dear Mrs. Bird is a touching look into the lives of several twenty-somethings living in London amidst the blitz of 1940. The protagonist Emmy Lake has always wanted to enter the exciting world of journalism, and with the war on, she sees herself reporting in the most dangerous of locations. But the job she interviews for and accepts is far from dangerous and far from what she expected. Emmy’s new position entails combing through the mail of a cantankerous advice columnist who has very strict rules as to what types of letters to which she will respond. Emmy empathizes with the women who write into the magazine and may take matters into her own hands. Pearce adds healthy doses of romance, heartbreak, and tragedy as Emmy and her friends make their way through war-time London.Pearce’s writing is a welcome trip back in time, and is good for an interesting turn of phrase and many well-chosen British idioms. While reading the character of Emmy Lake, one can picture Honeysuckle Weeks in her role as Sam Stewart in Foyle’s War. She is full of pluck and gumption in her job with Mrs. Bird as well as her time taking calls for the local fire brigade.While the novel might be predictable at times, the character of Emmy is too good to not keep reading. At its heart, Dear Mrs. Bird is wonderful little book that posits work, romance, friendship, and a stiff upper lip during a time of great strife, and comes away a very enjoyable experience.Many thanks to NetGalley, Scribner, and AJ Pearce for the advance copy for review.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    This was a delightful read and I loved every second of it. When Emmeline takes a new job, it is not what she expected, her ambitions of being a Lady War Correspondent are put on hold when she accepts a job as a typist at Woman’s Friend magazine. But this is an era of wartime pluck, so despite her disappointment Emmy throws herself into the job of typing up agony aunt letters. Quickly it becomes apparent that this magazine is not what it once was. The offices are empty, there is only a handful of This was a delightful read and I loved every second of it. When Emmeline takes a new job, it is not what she expected, her ambitions of being a Lady War Correspondent are put on hold when she accepts a job as a typist at Woman’s Friend magazine. But this is an era of wartime pluck, so despite her disappointment Emmy throws herself into the job of typing up agony aunt letters. Quickly it becomes apparent that this magazine is not what it once was. The offices are empty, there is only a handful of staff and reader numbers are questionable. But Emmy can’t help but fall in love with this little magazine (as do us readers!) and she is determined to bring the problem page up to date. Emmeline’s care and thoughtfulness towards the ladies who write into the magazine is truly heart warming. She genuinely feels for each and every letter sender and wants to help them all, despite Mrs Bird’s refusal to deal with Unpleasantness aka life! Emmeline is a wonderful character, she has the biggest heart and just wants to help. The thing that I took away from this book was that the pressure that women are under never changes. Even in the 1940’s they are under pressure to be happy, dressed prettily, provide a hearty dinner with rations. They aren’t allowed to be seen to struggle and or to ask for help, even during one of the worst periods of history. But this book is also full of wartime spirit and it is inspirational to see what people went through everyday, how ordinary people became heroes and how strangers helped each other. This was a read packed with emotion, the characters become your friends, you cheer for them and cry with them. It is a read that truly celebrates friendship. I was gutted when I reached the end of Emmeline’s tale and I had to say goodbye to this wonderful bunch of people. But I left the world of Mrs Bird with a smile on my face. Delightful, highly enjoyable, entertaining and inspirational.
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  • Laura Tisdall
    January 1, 1970
    Emmy Lake is determined to become a Lady War Correspondent, but finds herself as a general dogsbody on Woman's Friend instead, given the job of sorting through problem page letters for her intimidating boss, Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird refuses to answer 'Unacceptable Letters' containing what she calls 'unpleasantness' - references to sex, infidelity, divorce, pregnancy or even grief. Emmy is instructed to put such correspondence directly in the bin. However, she can't resist reading the rejected letters, Emmy Lake is determined to become a Lady War Correspondent, but finds herself as a general dogsbody on Woman's Friend instead, given the job of sorting through problem page letters for her intimidating boss, Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird refuses to answer 'Unacceptable Letters' containing what she calls 'unpleasantness' - references to sex, infidelity, divorce, pregnancy or even grief. Emmy is instructed to put such correspondence directly in the bin. However, she can't resist reading the rejected letters, and, touched by the women's stories, decides to start writing back herself.This is an utterly adorable novel. There are no other words for it. I can see this being a massive hit - it certainly cheered me up during a miserable winter with its message of Keep Calm and Carry On but don't be afraid to ask for help if you really need it. It's closely focused on relationships between women, which - with the exception of Mrs Bird herself and Horrible Vera at the Auxiliary Fire Services, where Emmy volunteers as a telephone operator - are all presented as positive. Moreover, it's clear about the ways in which women rely on each other in times of trouble, especially in Emmy's relationship with her best friend and flatmate, Bunty. It verges on the twee at times, with its use of capitalisation and its old-fashioned chapter titles - one, for example, is called 'The Prospect of Pineapple Chunks' - but carries all of this off with its sheer good humour and the way that it really makes you care about its central characters. Because of this, it's consistently gripping, and there's a tense few chapters about two-thirds of the way through where I genuinely couldn't put it down.Dear Mrs Bird is less an historical novel than an immersion in the kind of imagined 1940s that we like to reminisce about, full of plucky girls, dashing chaps and a sense of stoic commitment to a good cause. While I have no problem at all with quasi-historical novels going off piste in this way - indeed, I think it's important for historical novelists to recognise that they are engaging with modern readers' conceptions of the past, rather than simply conveying historical 'truth' - this was the only aspect of the novel that troubled me a little. It strongly plays into the kind of tropes that we might think are already a bit too prominent in our national memory of the Second World War - 'Blitz spirit', British grit, nationalistic pride. I worry that it might be taken as an accurate account of the 1940s (and, as the emotional context shows, it's by no means completely off the mark) rather than as a delightful pastiche. In this sense, it's not quite as good as Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, which manages to engage with both wartime spirit and humour and the persistent splits within a supposedly united nation, such as the treatment of people of colour. But then, it's clear why somebody might pick up Dear Mrs Bird rather than the bleaker Everyone Brave, and it's hard to begrudge somebody wanting a cheerful pick-me-up when our own political climate is so grim. I just hope it will be read as the splendid novel it is, rather than as an accurate wartime history.I received a review copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. Edited on 29th March 2018 to add full review.
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  • Camille
    January 1, 1970
    I was drawn to the book by the vintage looking cover, and the fact it looked like it was epistolary. Then, the summary sounded interesting. There are so many WWII novels out there - like the Tudors, WWII appear to be a huge market for historical novels, and I'm not overly interested in them, but this sounded quite original.Dear Mrs Bird tells the story of Emmeline Lake, a young woman in her 20s in WWII London, who dreams of becoming a War Correspondent. She takes a job for what she thinks is The I was drawn to the book by the vintage looking cover, and the fact it looked like it was epistolary. Then, the summary sounded interesting. There are so many WWII novels out there - like the Tudors, WWII appear to be a huge market for historical novels, and I'm not overly interested in them, but this sounded quite original.Dear Mrs Bird tells the story of Emmeline Lake, a young woman in her 20s in WWII London, who dreams of becoming a War Correspondent. She takes a job for what she thinks is The Evening Chronicle, only to realise she is actually a Junior Typist for a women's magazine that was famous and popular 20 years ago and is now on its last legs. Part of her job consists in dealing with the letters written to the agony aunt and editress of the magazine, Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird hates anything she deems unpleasant and refuses to answer such letters, putting Emmy in a difficult position: should she follow the rules and bin the letters or secretly answer them?I absolutely loved this book! Everything comes to life: the characters, the settings, everyday life in Blitz-time London. I laughed out loud and almost cried in sadness (note: I very rarely cry when reading so this is a big deal) at other times. It is very sweet yet it deals with more difficult issues and the horrors of the bombings.But what mostly impressed me in Dear Mrs Bird is Emmy's voice. It is very distinctive and very much so 1940s. The use of slang and cultural references is amazing. You're just transported back to the time period, but it never feels forced. It's not so often that I am so thoroughly pleased with the writing style. I couldn't put the book down.On a funny side note, I kept picturing Mr. Collins as Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada although that's not at all how he is described and I couldn't shake this image off my mind.Disclaimer : I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review - thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan / Picador.-----http://camillesbookishadventures.word...
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  • Sophie Eminson
    January 1, 1970
    To take a break from all the horror, murder and suspense I have been reading lately, I decided to take a gamble on Dear Mrs Bird. While this may have looked like the kind of book I would usually overlook, a lot of publishing professionals who I look up to had given it rave reviews, so I decided to try it out.The plot of this novel is that Emmeline Lake, in amidst the war gets a job typing up letters and responses on the advice page for an out-of-date women’s magazine. The woman providing the res To take a break from all the horror, murder and suspense I have been reading lately, I decided to take a gamble on Dear Mrs Bird. While this may have looked like the kind of book I would usually overlook, a lot of publishing professionals who I look up to had given it rave reviews, so I decided to try it out.The plot of this novel is that Emmeline Lake, in amidst the war gets a job typing up letters and responses on the advice page for an out-of-date women’s magazine. The woman providing the responses is Mrs Bird, who’s list of unacceptable topics and words in a letter that she will reply to, which makes Emmy’s job quite frustrating at times, so she starts responding to letters herself. Pearce explores themes of friendship, family and innocence through the hard-hitting experience of the war. It is often humorous and the characters very relatable, while breaking your heart in places.My only complaint about this book is that there isn’t more of it. I want to know what’s going to happen next! I relate so well to the main character, Emmy, as she is trying to make the most of an unfulfilling job that she thought would be her ticket to her dream career. I seriously admire her commitment to her own life and pursuing her goals. She cares greatly for her friends throughout the book and stands by them, even when pushed aside. I relate to her fiercely protective nature and her ruthless pursuit of her dreams.To continue reading this review: romanticsrebelsandreviews.wordpress.c...
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Mrs Bird is a great read. Its hard to believe that this is a debut novel, the author writes with a lot of skill and I really felt like I was in war time London. I love how the story is set in a woman's magazine and the attitude of trying to help people who still had their problems as well as being at war! There is a sense of togetherness and helping each other through the nightmare of being bombed. The bombing scenes are emotional and they really drew me in, I did have tears in my eyes at o Dear Mrs Bird is a great read. Its hard to believe that this is a debut novel, the author writes with a lot of skill and I really felt like I was in war time London. I love how the story is set in a woman's magazine and the attitude of trying to help people who still had their problems as well as being at war! There is a sense of togetherness and helping each other through the nightmare of being bombed. The bombing scenes are emotional and they really drew me in, I did have tears in my eyes at one point. The friendship between the main character and her best friend is realistic and when things go wrong you really do feel for both of them. Emmy, the main character is a person who means well but her actions don't always have the desired outcomes. I loved reading this book and want to thank the publisher and netgallery for giving me the chance to review this beautiful read. I will definitely be recommending this book to people, it kept me interested till the end and I was sad to finish it.Buy this Book on
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I was captured from the first paragraphs by the amusing situation comedy and the sunny spirit of the narrator, Emmeline. Then, in the middle, I got a little bogged down by several rather ponderous parts (too much introspection maybe?), which I feel could have been edited. The ending, however, was predictable and sweet. The story is told from an original angle, that of a young secretary but would-be war correspondent, who also volunteers most nights on the phones at the local fire service. The au I was captured from the first paragraphs by the amusing situation comedy and the sunny spirit of the narrator, Emmeline. Then, in the middle, I got a little bogged down by several rather ponderous parts (too much introspection maybe?), which I feel could have been edited. The ending, however, was predictable and sweet. The story is told from an original angle, that of a young secretary but would-be war correspondent, who also volunteers most nights on the phones at the local fire service. The author succeeds in painting a very realistic picture of the fear and anxiety of the era, or what one imagines it was like during the Blitz, and the patriotic, stiff upper lip spirit deemed vital to keep Hitler at bay. 3.5 upped to 4 stars. This was an enjoyable light read that one could even call historical chic-lit. “Dear Mrs Bird” feels like a first novel which holds promise of delightful follow-ups.
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  • Fiona Mccormick
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! It is set in London during the Blitz with friends Emmy and Bunty having their first taste of freedom by living together and working in London. Emmy thinks she is set to become the next Lady War Correspondent in her new job, but it transpires that she is actually the assistant to formidable agony aunt Mrs Bird who won't entertain any queries which are in any way 'racy' or inappropriate'. I loved the way that the book gave such an evocative sense of London during the war, the se I loved this book! It is set in London during the Blitz with friends Emmy and Bunty having their first taste of freedom by living together and working in London. Emmy thinks she is set to become the next Lady War Correspondent in her new job, but it transpires that she is actually the assistant to formidable agony aunt Mrs Bird who won't entertain any queries which are in any way 'racy' or inappropriate'. I loved the way that the book gave such an evocative sense of London during the war, the setting and the language was just so Keep Calm and Carry On! I would say this was a real feel good book, although there were certainly heartbreakingly sad events, there was a sense of the Blitz spirit and solidarity throughout. I would certainly recommend this book, thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this as an arc.
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