Dear Mrs Bird

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

I wasn’t sure I would like Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce because, although it’s historical fiction and one of my favourite genres, it has received so much hype that made me wonder if it was over-hyped and whether I’d find it a bit of a disappointment. 

It is written in a chatty style, which makes it a quick and easy read. It’s set mainly in 1941 in London. The main character is Emmeline (Emmy) Lake, a young woman who yearns to be a war correspondent and gets a job on a magazine, Woman’s Friend as she thinks, mistakenly that this will lead to her becoming a war correspondent. However, what the job entails is being a junior typist working for Mrs Henrietta Bird, the agony aunt on the magazine’s Problem Page.

Mrs Bird is a formidable woman who has no time for what she calls Unpleasantness and she will not answer any letters that she considers to be Unacceptable – and there is a long list of topics that come under that heading, mainly anything to do with relationship problems of any kind, religious or political activities or opinions and the war. But Emmy can’t help getting involved and, failing to persuade Mrs Bird to answer the letters, decides to write back herself, and even to publish a couple of answers in the magazine. Needless to say, this is not a Good Idea and she lands herself in all Kinds of Difficulties.

At first I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as it comes over as not only chatty, which I liked, but also full of slang – too breezy and clichéd in a  ‘jolly hockey sticks’ style with an over-use of capital letters For Emphasis, which I found a bit irritating. But then, as the scattiness of the first part of the book faded somewhat and concentrated more on Emmy’s voluntary work with the Fire Service, the tone changed giving a vivid picture of what life was like during the Blitz. Emmy is a well-meaning young woman, if a little misguided in her efforts to help people, but she tries very hard to correct her errors when things did not turn out as she had hoped. Overall, then I did enjoy it and think it gives a good sense of the times and the realities of the war for the ordinary people at home.

My thanks to the publishers, Picador for my review copy via NetGalley.
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Emmeline Lake is ambitious. She wants to be a journalist, a woman in a man’s world, a Lady war correspondent. Someone who sniffs out the story and feeds it to the masses. When she answers an ad in the newspaper and gets the job she thinks all her eggs have hatched at once. Unfortunately she finds her new position is not only not at the newspaper it’s only as the typist for the formidable agony aunt of a women’s magazine with low readership.

Emmeline decides to see it as a temporary situation, a stepping stone to the bigger world of journalism, but she hasn’t bargained with Mrs Henrietta Bird. Never has she met a more cantankerous, narrow-minded and prudish woman. The poor young girls and women who write to Mrs Bird aren’t aware that their letters are judged and discarded within a moments notice. Never shall there be a mention of anything in any way scandalous or inappropriate.

Emmeline finds herself drawn to the worries, questions and concerns of the women. She makes an impulsive decision, which could potentially end her budding career. 

This all takes place in London during WW2 and the heavy bombing of the town by the Germans. Trauma and fear play a poignant part in this story, and also the bravery of the men. women and children who tried to survive in the bomb plagued areas of England.

In a way this book puts the whole agony aunt column into perspective, well actually it shines a completely different light on it. That it might be a way of crossing the boundaries of oppression when it comes to topics which may be controversial or being the confidante for people who have no other person to confide in.

I wonder how many of us would do the same thing as Emmeline given half the chance. The possibility of easing the worried minds of a few women here and there, and of course the act of defiance against the patriarchy of society. Just the simple feeling of knowing that one isn’t alone with a problem, be it a mundane one or one of a more serious nature. Women supporting other women.

It’s amusing, and yet also a tale of bravery at the same time. Mrs Bird is an endearing story of hope, spontaneity, determination and courage.
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Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce follows Emmy, a young woman in wartime London, as she takes on a new job as the typist for a woman's magazine agony aunt.

It already sounds amazing, right? Well the reality is even better.

It starts with Emmy finding an advert for what she thinks is her dream job working at a newspaper, which in turn will help lead her to her hopes of becoming a war correspondent. But it turns out that's not quite the case when she finds herself managing the letters to and from Mrs Bird, an agony aunt with very specific (and old-fashioned) instructions on what are and are not acceptable topics for publication (there's a whole list of forbidden terms!)... also Mrs Bird is a little scary in that old school formidable matriarch way.

But when Emmy feels a tug on her heartstrings at one particular letter that Mrs Bird has deemed unacceptable, she decides to do something risky; she writes back, pretending to be Mrs Bird! EEK!

Alongside her professional travels, Dear Mrs Bird follows Emmy as she navigates her personal life. She starts with a fiance off at war, who dumps her to marry a nurse (via telegram!), which leads to her temporarily swearing off men before meeting the brother of one of her superiors at work (another soldier); it's not exactly a whirlwind romance but hey it was the 40s and he was fighting in Europe, what do you expect?

I loved the friendly and conversational feel of the book that still managed to never dimish the terrible realities of living through the Blitz, even through the sad parts of the story. From her dilemnas at work to her love life, her relationship with her best friend Bunty  and her opinions on the war itself, by the time I finished reading, Emmy felt like a real friend, someone I'd been sitting down having a conversation with.

It's wonderfully written and AJ Pearce builds up the world of wartime London beautifully as well as creating characters that you can't help but take into your heart.

I know I'll be coming back to read Dear Mrs Bird again in the future and would be delighted to see a sequel!
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This is a gorgeous novel and I enjoyed every minute that I spent reading it. Emmy applies for a job on a newspaper but is shocked to find on her first day that she isn’t going to be a war correspondent but an assistant to the resident agony aunt. She overcomes her disappointment and finds that she wants to help the women who write in. The novel is set during WW2 so there are some sad moments but the novel on the whole is heartwarming and is such a comforting read. If you haven’t already read this then I recommend you grab a copy and read it asap!
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A really quirky book - liked the main characters and the whole premise of the story. Did not always follow the path I thought it might.
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There are some books that you just know you’re going to enjoy as soon as you start reading, and Dear Mrs Bird is one of them. The story is a simple one- Emmy is a young woman living in the early 1940’s and desperate to be a journalist she applies for a job that she thinks will be the first step to becoming a war correspondent. Instead she finds herself working for the very unpleasant Mrs Bird on the agony aunt column for a failing magazine. Given that Mrs Bird won’t even look at any letters she deems ‘inappropriate’ she is providing no help whatsoever to the readers and Emmy takes things into her own hands, despite the advice of her best friend Bunty and it goes on from there. The writing is easy, the characters are likeable (apart from Mrs Bird, obvs) and to be honest there isn’t a huge amount of complexity or nuance to any of them. However, the story doesn’t shy away from the realities of the Blitz where danger, tragedy and courage are part of the everyday, and the portrait of Emmy and Bunty’s friendship is engaging and emotive. It was just an incredibly enjoyable reading experience and I would really recommend it as a nice quick read which will pull on your heart-strings.
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This is a novel about wartime London and almost the art of "getting on" with things despite the disruption that bombing causes. For me it took a really long time to actually move the storyline on and had a little too much of the "jolly hockey sticks" character or bravado. However there were parts that really got to me emotionally and I wanted things to turn out well for the characters. There were some very well written individual scenes and for a debut novel it has a lot going for it. I would not be put off reading more by this author 

I have posted Amazon review the link just hasn't been emailed to me
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What a wonderful novel!!

I was captivated by the writing, the fabulously drawn characters and I was truly transported right into the heart of wartime London. Such a skilful and evocative book I adored the main character, Emmy, who is scatterbrained, slightly quirky and utterly endearing. 

Emmy has always wanted to be a journalist, dreams of being a war correspondent and serving her country, she thinks she has landed her dream job but unwittingly ends up as the assistant on the problem page of a failing women's magazine. Her boss, the truly awful Mrs Bird, refuses to move with the times, has a seemingly endless list of taboo subjects and absolutely no understanding of the needs of the women who write to her for help.

Such a warm and engaging book, of friendship, heartbreak and life in the 'stiff upper lip' atmosphere of the times. This was my first read of this year and I'm already certain it will be in my top reads list - I'd love there to be a sequel to this book, to see how Emmy, Bunty and the magazine progress throughout the rest of the war and beyond.

Many many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmilan for the chance to read this charming book! This review as always reflects my honest opinion.
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Loved it, loved it.. I always know early on if I’m going to enjoy a book and this was no exception. The characters were all believable and a joy to get to know even Mrs Bird! I cannot imagine living during ww2 but this book gives lots of different insights all of which tie in with other books of this genre so truthful and believable. It was nice to have a strong female lead well supported by those who stepped up as men went off to war. Thank you and I shall look out for further books.
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Ahhhh this was great! I really couldn't put it down. It's a good mix of sad, heart-warming and witty. I loved the main character and I really enjoyed submerging myself into her friendships and life. Funny and poignant.
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What a delightful, witty yet poignant book. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I have always been interested in the second world war and reading it reminded me of the many stories my Grandma used to tell me when she was alive. 

Emmeline is a young lady during the second world war, who wants to help in the war effort by becoming a war correspondent. She ends up working for a newspaper but not in the way she had hoped!

The characters are believable and relatable. The storyline is often both funny and sad and manages to balance this very well. 

Definitely recommended for any age group.
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This book was great fun to read and I didn’t want it to end. It’s a light-hearted story set in the Blitz. Warm-hearted Emmeline Lake dreams of being a war correspondent but ends up working for Henrietta Bird, a formidable agony aunt who refuses to answer any letters that have a hint of unpleasantness (which is nearly every letter she receives!)  Emmy is impulsive but likeable. She gets herself into tricky situations. There’s a lot of humour but sadness too. Uplifting and well worth a read!
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‘Dear Mrs Bird’ was a delightful read. Initially frothy, light-hearted, and comic in a sort of Bertie Woosterish style, Emmeline Lake, the heroine, skips and bumbles through the London Blitz with naïveté and youthful exhuberance, until things take a skilfully portrayed darker turn. 
	Written in a fairly self-conscious COMEDIC style, with lots of upper case and caps lock, and old fashioned Stiff-Upper-Lip, British What-Ho-ishness, it worked for me. I didn’t think it would, but it did. A few modern terms did slip past the author and editors, but they didn’t jar too horribly.  I’d definitely read more of this author’s work, as her relentlessly humorous and positive take on life, work, friendships, relationships, the war, and all-things-grim, was a blast of fresh air amongst the relentless slew of murder-and-mayhem novels that are the norm now.
	I’d be surprise if it didn’t transfer to TV, as I can easily see it in half hour episodes, reminiscent of a war time Blandings.
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I absolutely adored this book. It was a real page turner and I didn't want it to finish. I loved all the characters, including the terrifying Mrs Bird. The blitz is the setting and Emmy is trying to make her mark in journalism. Her job is to type up letters for a problem page and when she thinks people are not being helped sufficiently she decides to take matters into her own hands. This is a great read and put a big smile on my face. Highly recommended. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC.
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Loved this book - I always enjoy books that give me an insight into London during the war. Both my parents came from London but would not talk about their experiences through the war as they found them too painful. This book gave me some insight of the dreadful things that happened through a different perspective and how the war affected relationships that were made. 
I hope there is a sequel as I want more - how the new Mrs Bird succeeded, what Bunty did and did Charles come back?
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I love fiction based on the Homefront in the UK during WWII and this was no exception. It's a lovely story that made me laugh at times, and cry at the end.
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This is a delightful feel-good novel which I read over two days. The premise, that of agony aunt letters sent during the war to the background of the London Blitz is an unusual one. The novel embraces ordinary lives with personal problems very much of their time but also with a degree of universality. The blitz is ever present and is  an an intriguing background by which to explore a twenty year old young woman's dreams and aspirations and her very human mistakes.  Emmeline aspires to work as a war correspondent but instead finds herself sifting through agony letters for her extremely difficult boss Mrs Bird. She is only permitted to pass on 'proper' Mail so that real problems are ignored. That is until Emmy takes the initiative and cannot resist answering the correspondence herself. This is a novel deftly plotted which is highly readable. It has a gallery of endearing characters who change and grow by the novel's end. The very vividly portrayed, very terrifying Blitz contrasts with a realistic, very human plot line involving themes of friendship and optimism. Alongside Emmy's secrecy which  is poised to be discovered at any moment her personal life, too, is threatened. It's a perceptive novel filled with stoacism and hope.  It's characters seek 'sanity in the middle of a Europe being battered by a deranged madman and Britain doing its best to keep the hope of a free world alive...' Dear Mrs Bird' is a well-researched, beautifully written book which comes highly reccomended by this reader.
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Crikey, what a book this is. I’m going to be honest with you, when I was initially sent an advance copy of Dear Mrs Bird to review, I started reading and threw it aside after about 10 minutes thinking it was way too fluffy and Hooray Henry for me. How wrong and small minded I was! Thank goodness I went back and gave it another try. I loved it and couldn’t put it down.

Set in London during the blitz, Emmy believes her dreams of being a female war correspondent are about to come true when she accidentally takes a job typing up letters for Mrs Bird’s problem page. Emmy doesn’t always agree with the formidable Mrs Bird’s advice to her readers. Hence Emmy takes matters into her own hands.

Initially Dear Mrs Bird could be mistaken for being a light, fun read. But it is so much more – it poignantly explores the true impact of World War II on the home front. I cried buckets reading this novel but I also laughed loads too. This is a profound novel about friendship and integrity. It is simply brilliant.

The paperback version of Dear Mrs Bird was released very recently – 27 December. So go and get your copy now.
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A J Pearce has written an absolute corker of a story for her first novel. Set in wartime London 1940, it faithfully represents the period, the morale and courage of the day in a heartfelt story which is both humorous and touching.  
It tells the story of a young woman, Emmeline, who is doing her bit along with everyone else to support the country on the Home Front.  Working at a solicitor’s office and doing extra night shifts as a volunteer taking emergency calls for the fire service, she dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. When she spots an advert for a junior for The Chronicle, she excitedly applies, believing this will be the start of a journalistic career.  Rather amusingly, there is some confusion over the exact nature of the position and Emmeline is stunned when she realises she has become a junior typist for an old fashioned battleaxe.  Mrs Bird is the Acting Editress of a woman’s agony column for Woman’s Friend magazine.  It is Emmeline’s job to sift through the readers’ letters and destroy any that have ‘degenerate’ content.  Mrs Bird will not accept or reply to anything remotely ‘racy’, such as physical relations or even innocuous topics such as nervousness, rejecting anything she sees as weak.  But Emmeline cannot bear to ignore these women’s cries for help, so starts to secretly reply to them.
Full of the phrases of the day and depicting the indefatigable Keep Calm and Carry On community spirit, the author grants us a vivid insight into the attitudes and mores of wartime Britain and tells a tender tale of love, courage, friendship and loyalty. An uplifting and feel good read, I would love to see a sequel to this story.
I would like to thank Netgalley, Pan Macmillan Picador and AJ Pearce for the opportunity to read and review Dear Mrs Bird.
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Throughout the autumn and winter months I have heard so much about this book. So when Pan Macmillan sent me an eARC I just could not wait just to get stuck in.
It's a fun yet odd read. It is based around Emmine who has applied for a job as a war correspondent for her local paper only to discover that when she starts the job she is actually an assistant to Mrs Bird -The Evening Standard agony aunt- but Mrs Bird hand picks what letters she wants to read answer and which ones as too risky to be printed in the paper.
There is so much more to this story.
Fabulous storyline and great characters who are unique yet written with such depth-really makes the book come to life.
A must read.
Thank you to both NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for my eARC of the book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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