November’s book in The Ramblings Book Club was ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ by A J Pearce. I thought it suitable to mirror the month of remembrance with a novel set in 1941. I’m glad I did. War is hell, as they say and 2020 has presented it’s own kind of war. A war on something completely out of our control and just like in 1941, we’re trying our best to ‘chin-up’ and ‘keep on’. Our heroes may not be men fighting overseas but rather nurses, doctors, caregivers, scientists and all keyworkers on the frontline. We may be rationing loo roll instead of vital food but there are a lot of parallels between what we are going through now and what the characters in this novel are. So, here is my Dear Mrs Bird Book Review.
This is the fifth instalment of The Ramblings Book Club. If this is your first Book Club post, welcome! Feel free to read The Ramblings Book Club post to learn more about the club and how to join. To put it simply, every first Sunday of the month (usually, things have changed this December but normal service will resume) I upload a blog post reviewing the previous month’s book. I also announce the next book to read. This gives people the opportunity to discuss the book in the comments either here or on social media. It’s absolutely FREE and you can join at anytime. Just grab a copy of the latest book and meet back here!
November’s book in The Ramblings Book Club was ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ by AJ Pearce. Here’s a quick recap:
London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.
But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?
Dear Mrs Bird Book Review
This book has left me feeling humble, grateful. It has an excellent way of placing you in their shoes. Understanding what people must have gone through on a day-to-day basis in London 1941. The front people put on, the mindsets, the way their lives got turned upside-down because of it all. Not just the fear of being bombed but having to keep society running, the pressures women were put under, the PTSD women suffered through alone after their husbands were off at war and their children taken away. You never hear much about that side of things and it truly opened my eyes. Nevertheless, this book was filled with tales of love, light and hope.
What I liked
The main character, Emmeline, was very likeable. She’s plucky and has courage and like all of us, just wants to do the right thing. I admire her bravery and ballsy-ness. The last third of the book is filled with action and it was at this point that I couldn’t stop turning the pages. From the point of Emmeline meeting Charles (what a dream gent) to the end, I was hooked. Emmeline and Charles small romance was the thing of fairy tales wasn’t it? That was the kind of love I wanted as a child, that’s how I pictured meeting my future husband (not waitressing, smelling like chip fat and our first date getting a McFlurry at 1am).
Also, absolutely adored the character Mr Collins! At first I thought, “Well, he’s a bit of an odd ball” but he becomes such a strong character that’s witty, heroic and just a true gentleman. We could all use a Mr Collins in our life. Similarly, wasn’t Roy a sweetheart? I wish he was more of a prominent character.
One of the more heart-breaking elements of the story is the arguments between William and Emmeline about how he nearly died saving a doll and he wasn’t thinking about his fiancé if he had died. William argued that he was doing the right thing and Emmy should just butt out but I whole-heartedly believed she was in the right to give him a telling off. I’m sure if Bunty was there she would have done the same thing! And then to not accept Emmy’s apology? I’m now going into what I dislike…
What I didn’t like
As I’ve already mentioned, wasn’t a huge fan of the character William. Bit of a knob. The first 2 thirds of the book are a lot of scene setting and character building which I appreciate but it didn’t grab me. It felt like a chore to read through it all to finally get to the action but I’m glad I did. However, I found the ending, rushed? It was a bit of a “but it was all sorted out and they lived happily ever after” kind of ending. Or did I just read it really fast-paced? Suppose it’s good if you like a Hallmark-type ending, which I do but it just didn’t seem to fit the book too much.
To Sum Up…
A heart-warming and eye-opening story about love, loss and hope during difficult times. It’s a bit lengthy and has a bit too much waffle for me. I wish the action was spread throughout the whole book rather than all toward the end but don’t regret wading through it to get to the good bits!
We’re sticking with the Hallmark feeling here!
December’s book is ‘The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane’ by Jaimie Admans. If this book title doesn’t scream Christmas, I don’t know what will. I chose this book because, I don’t know about you but 2020 has sucked ass. I need predictable, I need to know there is a happy ending and I need warm and fuzzy cheesiness. It’s Christmas! Covid needs to get out of my brain and I think this book will provide the comfy, cosy distraction I need.
Not just from Covid but Christmas stress is a real thing, y’all. Why is it that present-buying, card-writing, holiday-baking, gift-wrapping, family-communicating always comes down to the women in the house doing it all? I mean, probably because I care WAY more about Christmas than anyone else in the house but the pressure I put on myself to make everyone happy and make it as magical as I possibly can… can get a bit much sometimes. And when it does (when not if) I will run myself a bubble bath and read this book in peace (fingers crossed).
About the Book
Nia Maddison has always believed that wishes come true on Nutcracker Lane. So, when she gets the opportunity to run her own Christmas gift shop on the most magical street in town, it feels like her wishes have been finally granted.
But working late one night, Nia discovers yet another boyfriend has cheated on her. As she trudges home – alone, again – she passes the (supposedly) magical nutcracker and half-joking thinks a wish can’t hurt. Cracking a nut in its mouth, she wishes to find Prince Charming.
The next day Nia gets to work to find another decoration shop has opened directly across the lane from her own, and she can’t resist having a nose around.
Whilst there, she accidentally backs into a human-sized Nutcracker, knocking it over and breaking it. Mortified, she flees from the store but when she gathers her resolve to go back and apologise, she stumbles across the gorgeous shop owner James, who looks exactly like Prince Charming…
Could her Christmas wish from the night before really be coming true?
About the Author
Admans is a 35-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. Admans hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese and onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots. She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.
You can buy the book from Waterstones here or the book is available on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition:
Please leave your thoughts about dear Mrs Bird down below in the comment section. Also, let me know if you enjoy the Book Club and should I continue this into 2021? And, as always, if you have any book suggestions that would like me to review, let me know! You never know, your suggestion could be the next book in The Ramblings Book Club! Hope you enjoyed my Dear Mrs Bird Book Review!