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.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
All in all, this is a story about the helpers of World War 2 – amongst all the atrocities, there was a bit of light in those who came to the rescue of others.
The author drew inspiration for the book after finding an advice column in a women’s magazine from 1939 (love this so much!). AJ Pearce has done some beautiful justice to the people who had to experience the atrocities of the terrible bombings in London and the emotions they must have faced and the questions they must have had.
This is as delightful a book you will find that has a setting of a war. The characters are absolutely charming, you’ll be rooting for them all. And the language is brilliant – I absolutely loved the dialogue between the characters.
A huge thank you to Picador Books for an advance copy. This book is currently available!