Dear Mrs. Bird

A Novel

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Pub Date 03 Jul 2018 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2018

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Description

“A marvelous treat. Charming and delightful.” —Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist— a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

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.
“A marvelous treat. Charming and delightful.” —Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice...

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Featured Reviews

Dear Mrs. Bird is a great read about a young girl named Emmeline Lake who wants nothing more than to be a writer for a newspaper. One day she comes across an ad in the newspaper for what she thinks is her perfect dream job. On her first day she finds out that she will actually be working for Mrs. Bird who answers letters for an advice column. Mrs. Bird has very definite ideas about what are appropriate letters to be considered for replies. It is Emmy's job to shift through the letters and pick out the ones to be answered. Due to the strict guidelines she is to follow, Emmy isn't left with too many options. Emmy decides that it wouldn't hurt to respond to a letter or two herself pretending to be Mrs. Bird. After all these women have legitimate problems and she thinks that she can help them. This is where the fun begins. This story,for the most part, is a fun and light read with a good dose of what living in London during World War II was like. I really enjoyed this one and will be keeping an eye out for future books by AJ Pearce.

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I notice that this book is favorably compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Although it is a charming book on its own, I couldn't agree more! Set in WWII London, columnist Henrietta Bird needs a secretary, mostly to route out what she calls "Unpleasantness". Emily takes the job, but finds herself answering many of the letters consigned to the bin. Recommended reading.

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Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic version of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Emmeline Lake has a dream of being a war journalist. While the Second World War rages through London, Emmy is volunteering as an emergency services reporter, trying to “do her bit” for the war effort, when she comes across an advertisement to work for a newspaper. Immediately intrigued, Emmy applies and gets the job, only to find out that the job involves basic typing and the sorting of “Dear Mrs. Bird” letters, “Mrs. Bird” being the crotchety editor of the column, who refuses to answer any letters with “untoward” subjects. Taking pity, Emmy secretly replies to the letters that Mrs. Bird won’t respond to, knowingly putting her job and her journalistic dreams at stake. “Dear Mrs. Bird” by AJ Pearce, is witty, charming, and even, at times, hysterical, while still staying true to the grim backdrop of London during WWII. As bombs drop, Emmeline and her friends and colleagues do their best to keep their heads above water with a positive water, doing what they can to “support their boys” overseas. This novel was an unexpected delight for me. Although I would classify it as historical fiction, due to the setting, it was so much more. Emmy is a lovable character, desperate to achieve her dreams in a world where the men still reign, clumsily struggling on her own through a life plagued by heartbreak and disaster. She, and her best friend Bunty, have the kind of relationship every woman should have and I instantly was enamored with both of them. “Dear Mrs. Bird” showed the scary and dark sides of World War II, as bomb alarms went off periodically and buildings were demolished. The positivity that radiated from Emmy and her friends prevented this novel from being dismal and depressing. A stellar novel, to be sure, and one that took me by complete surprise. Easy to read, I finished this novel before I knew it, and each and every bit of it was satisfying and entertaining. I was surprised to find out that this is Ms. Pearce’s first novel, as it definitely did not have any markings of a novice writer, and I hope she grants us the pleasure of more Emmy, and more novels in the near future.

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As long as I can remember I’ve loved historical fiction set during WWII and this is one of the first that really feels like it was written 75 years ago. I can’t wait to read what @ajpearcewrites has in store next.

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This novel is set in WWII during the Blitz in London. A young woman gets a job at a paper where she secretly starts answering letters from readers written to Mrs Bird’s Problem Page. The language for the time and place is on point and takes some getting used to, as well as the Excessive Use Of Capitalization. This does add to the humor of the story and helped set the tone of each situation. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read which surprisingly also required some tissues! 5/5 stars!

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I really loved meeting Emmeline (Emmy) Lake and getting to know her. Her dream is to become a war correspondent, so when a job is posted for the London Evening Chronicle, she applies. The job is not quite what she had in mind. She is working for Mrs. Bird, the advice columnist for the magazine Women's Friend. The time is 1940. This is London and everyone does their part for the war effort. Emmy is no exception- she volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. This books gives us a glimpse as to what was going on at home while the war was raging on the continent. Through Emmy and her best friend Bunty and though the letters, our eyes are opened to the feelings of those at home. This book was an absolute delight- Emmy is spunky, determined, caring and oh so lovable- I am so glad to have made her acquaintance!

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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.

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I loved the book. It was charming and witty while effectively illustrating the problems facing women in Britain during WWII. I was so delighted with "Dear Mrs, Bird" that finding another book to follow it was difficult. I can't wait to hear more from this author. Well done.!

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Princess Fuzzypants here: Mrs. Bird is the editor and advice columnist for a failing ladies’ publication when Emmy joins her staff in 1940. To say Mrs. Bird is hopelessly outdated and rigid is an understatement. She is firmly rooted in Victorian standards so many of the questions that come her way are dismissed as being Unpleasant and good for nothing more than the rubbish bin. Emmy, who had visions of becoming a journalist when she signs on, is the guardian at the gate so to speak. She opens the mail and sorts through what Mrs. Bird might find acceptable. As a young woman, painfully aware of the issues that confront young people in this time of great turmoil, she is unable to discard them . She figures if they have the courage to write, they deserve an answer. Knowing it will never come from Mrs. Bird, she takes it upon herself to answer but signs as Mrs. Bird. We know things will not go well when her deceit is discovered, as it inevitably is. Mrs. Bird is livid and wants to prosecute Emmy to the extent of the law. But in the midst of chaos and betrayal and death, something wonderful happens. The reader is treated to a charming story, full of historical detail about people just trying to get on with it when the world seems to be falling about their ears= literally. As a student of the Blitz, the book recreates that time with colour and detail but never letting the external story detract from the real story. It is a jolly good read, I give it five purrs and two paws up.

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5 incredibly enthusiastic stars for Dear Mrs. Bird. I fell in love with Emmy, Bunty, and all the other characters in this story and when I realized I'd turned the last page, I was truly disappointed to be leaving their lives. I went into this book thinking it would be light and silly, and parts of it definitely were. But what I didn't expect (and was delighted to find!) were the layers of depth beneath the top floofy veneer. Emmy, like other young women in London of 1940, is Doing Her Bit for the war effort by juggling a job, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services, and, you know, dodging bombs in nightly raids on the city by Germans. Filled with daring and adventure she responds to an ad at one of the local newspapers thinking it will be the first step on the path to her dream of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. She lands the job only to discover that instead of writing hard-hitting news articles, the position is assisting Mrs. Bird, a rather grumpy advice columnist who doesn't believe in giving advice for any topics on a rather lengthy list of Unpleasant Things. As Emmy reads through the letters from women in the mailbag to find the few that Mrs. Bird will answer, she realizes some of these women have serious problems, often terribly exacerbated by the living in wartime conditions. Heart broken by some of these letters, Emmy takes things into her own hands and starts to secretly reply to some of the letters. AJ Pearce has written a story that fully immerses you in the time period without reading like a history book and without being as dreary and depressing as something like Atkinson's Life After Life. Each of the characters has a true personality, and the story is very compelling -- I had trouble putting this book down because I wanted to keep reading. My only complaint is that there isn't a sequel that I can dive into right now -- I want more of Emmy and her pluck. Badass Female Character score: All. The. Stars. -- Emmy is strong and capable, and all the other female characters presented in this story are doing their darnedest to Keep Calm and Carry On no matter how hard the circumstances make it to do just that. Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada, and the author for providing me with a free DRC of this lovely book.

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A sweet treat of a book, but with appropriately somber moments too. It is, after all, set in London during the Blitz of WW2. The main character is the ever-optimistic Emmy Lake who lives in a flat with her best friend Bunty, and volunteers nightly to answer the phones at the Fire Brigade (a tricky job when bombs are falling all about). Emmy is plucky and more than a tad flighty, but she's a sweet girl with a kind and generous heart doing her best to be helpful. She dreams of being a journalist (a Lady War Correspondent, to be exact) and "falls into" a job at a women's magazine. Hoping it to be one step closer to "real" journalism, Emmy takes the position and then, starts responding to the "help" letters -- women writing in for advice. The only problem? This is not her job! The story is all about the predicaments that Emmy faces, many of them self-made, and how she manages to "Keep Calm and Carry On" in spite of the calamity's happening all around her. To be honest, it was a bit on the treacly side, but readers will love Emmy Lake. She reminded me of Anne Shirley, if Anne were in London and not Green Gables. I will be recommending this book for sure!

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Oh, do you know that delicious thrill you get a few pages into a new book - just knowing that it's going to be an absolutely wonderful read? That was the case with A.J. Pearce's debut novel - Dear Mrs. Bird. I loved the cover - those typewriter keys, colours and fashion style set the stage for the story within. 1940 London, England. With the war raging, everyone must Buckle Down and Do Their Part. Emmy Lake volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. She dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent as well. When she sees an ad for a position with a newspaper, she leaps at the chance. She gets the job, but it ends up being a typist position for an advice column in a women's magazine - Dear. Mrs. Bird. "Finally I gave what I hoped was a plucky Everything Is Absolutely Tip Top Smile. I had taken entirely the wrong job." Mrs. Bird is quite strict about what should be published - there is an Unacceptable Topics list. But Emmy feels bad about those whose letters go unanswered. You know what's coming next, don't you? Yes, she begins to reply..... (And before you think I've made some mistakes with capitalization in this post - they are part of Emmy's inner dialogue and denote important information.) Pearce has created an absolutely delightful character in Emmy. She's plucky, irrepressible and so darn likeable. The supporting cast including best friend Bunty, and the magazine staff are just as well drawn. Mrs. Bird is in a class of her own. Pearce has captured the stalwart attitude of the Brits in the war years. "My mother steadfastly referred to the war as This Silly Business, which made it sound like a mild fracas over a marmalade sponge." Pearce's descriptions of a London being bombed nightly, the damage, the loss of life, the rescue workers and more paint the backdrop of this tale and underscore the reality of those war years. Dear Mrs. Bird had me laughing out loud many, many times. As the book progressed, things did take a more serious turn. And I couldn't stop turning pages. I was so invested in Pearce's tale. I loved reading the letters, from the advice column as well as those Emmy writes to friends and family. Letter writing is such a lost art nowadays. Pearce says 'the inspiration for Dear Mrs. Bird began when I came across a 1939 copy of a women's magazine. It was a wonderful find - a glimpse into an era and world where I could read about everything from recipes for lamb's brain stew to how to knit your own swimwear.""Many of the readers' letters in Dear Mrs. Bird were inspired by the letters and advice, articles and features printed in those wartime magazine. I found them thought-provoking, moving and inspirational, and my admiration for the women of that time never stops growing....It is a privilege to look into their world and remember what incredible women and girls they all were." I absolutely adored Dear Mrs. Bird and I know you will too - definitely recommended.

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Thank you, Net Galley, for providing an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion. Emmeline Lake is a young woman at the beginning of World War II. She is doing her part in support of the war effort, but her greatest wish is to become a war correspondent. She jumps at the chance for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, only to learn that she will be a typist for an advice columnist, Mrs. Bird, who refuses to address any enquiries that she considers unpleasant. Emmeline begins to write back to readers who have written for advice. I loved this book. It was funny, and it was sad (after all, it was during war time). I felt like Emmeline was telling me her story personally. Pearce did a great job in capturing this 23-year-old woman's voice. The story is about friendship, continuing on after facing hardship, and reaching out to strangers, despite this very dark period in England's history.

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What a delightful read! The characters are likeable and real. The book cleverly creates a feeling of foreboding with the potential for disaster always present, probably how it felt to be living in wartime London. But our characters are optimistic and unsinkable, soldiering on and living their daily lives, including the reader in their adventures. Perfect for the beach or curl up in front of a fire with a big mug of tea and enjoy!

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I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky novel about a ww2 advice columnist with Attitude and the young assistant who had her own voice to be heard. What an original way of considering the human challenges of wartime.

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Please see the following link for my blog's review of Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. https://wordsofmysteryblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/book-review-dear-mrs-bird-by-aj-pearce/

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I absolutely loved this book. It's the kind of book that will leave you feeling warm, happy ... delighted. London, 1940. Emmy Lake wants nothing more than to be a War Correspondent. When she sees an advertisement looking for a junior reporter for the London Evening Chronicle, she immediately jumps at the chance and applies for the job. Only the job isn't to be a War Correspondent, but rather to type up the letters to the agony aunt in a weekly ladies magazine. Not at all what she expected, but she decides to make the best of it. Enter Mrs. Bird. She runs her magazine with an iron fist - and doesn't answer any letters that have anything to do with "unpleasantness" - which basically means she won't respond to anything unless it's about doing your part for the war effort. Everything else is considered unpleasant, which makes Emmy's job ever so difficult ... since most letters sent to Mrs. Bird are actually about stepping out with young men, wanting to marry against ones parents wishes, or feeling guilty for being scared during raids. Emmy simply can't abide to not answer all those lonely readers, and so she begins to respond to all those unpleasant letters - sneaking answers into the magazine behind Mrs. Bird's back. The result is a wonderful story about a young lady who just wants to help those seeking advice. While at the office Emmy becomes friends with Kathleen and Mr. Collins - both delightful supporting characters. This book felt like a cross between Life After Life and The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. It's about people who are doing their bit for the war, it's about looking on the bright side of things when all feels lost. This beauty of this book is not only in the story, but in the characters. All of the characters are wonderful - Emmy, Bunty, William, Kathleen, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bird, Charles, Thelma, etc. This is a book about friendships, love, pulling your socks up and supporting one another. It's a feel-good book. A gem. A delight. This book made me smile and left me wishing for more. I loved "Dear. Mrs. Bird" and would happily recommend it to just about anyone I know. Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada and Scribner for providing me with an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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This book was good - I felt a little lost like the main character in the beginning, but was richly rewarded in the end. A great book for fans of historical novels and the World War II time period. Some parts were easy to see coming in terms of plot and what would happen, but was all around very captivating and well written.

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Emmeline and Bunty, best buddies along with their boyfriends, always going out together. Then WWII starts and Em's boyfriend enlists, but Buntys boyfriend is rejected. He is devasted, but wanting to participate in the war effort, he becomes a fireman. Emmeline, the main character, dreams of becoming a war correspondent, but after a quick interview in the building of a famous newspaper, she discovers instead that she has taking on a job in a woman's magazine. Mrs Bird, her boss, is a grumpy, pernicity woman with rigid rules and a very loud voice.! Em's job is to read help letters sent in by readers, but Mrs Bird will only read a few that don't include anything about sex, boyfriends, drugs, etc, the list goes on. Feeling sorry for some of the readers EM decides to write back to some herself. She keeps it a secret, even from Bunty., until the inevitable happens and she is caught out! The book is a mixture of love, despair and some humour. Very well written and a great read.

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A powerful glimpse into what the day-to-day life might have been like in WWII Britain for those having to deal with the bombings. A little predictable that the best friend's fiance would die, but otherwise a satisfying read.

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Set during the London Blitz in 1940-41, you'd expect a dark and dour novel but this couldn't be farther from the truth. It was a happy/sad book that highlighted the indomitable and resilient spirit of Londoners during the time, yet cast a keen eye on the devastation of the war. The story is told from the perspective of a young woman named Emmeline Lake, whose fondest wish is to become a journalist. In particular, a Lady War Correspondent. Emmy lives in Pimlico and shares a flat with her best friend in the world, Bunty. Emmy is famed for her 'plucky' outlook. She works answering phones for the Fire Brigade. This is no easy task as the Luftwaffe's bombing of London during the Blitz ensured that there were myriad fires, accidents, and injuries every single day. When she gets an interview with the London Evening Chronicle, she is over the moon with anticipation. However, she finds out that the job is not with the newspaper, but rather it is with the magazine "Woman's Friend" which has its offices in the same building. Still working her post at the Fire Brigade, Emmy begins working as a typist for "The Women's Friend" in January of 1941. Her job is to screen the mail received by agony aunt Mrs. Henrietta Bird and choose those that Mrs. Bird is likely to answer. These are few and far between as Mrs. Bird will not reply to letters about adultery, politics, divorce, intimacy, and any other topic she saw as weak. Even the replies that Mrs. Bird does write are very brusque and unsympathetic. "A step too far - A catalogue of deceit" Feeling sorry for the countless letters that didn't pass muster by Mrs. Bird, Emmy begins to answer them herself. Her heart breaks for the desperate predicaments of the letter writers. Her big mistake is that she writes her replies on "Women's Friend" stationery and signs them "Mrs. Henrietta Bird". "The moon was lighting up London for the Luftwaffe and they were taking full advantage of it." When Emmy's friend Bunty gets engaged to one of the Fire Brigade firemen, the girls are joyous. It is so nice to have something 'good' to look forward to. The Blitz leaves no one unscathed. Emmeline lives her life with a mixture of pluckiness, bravery, guilt, concern, and resilience that is a tonic to read about. Tired, so tired, Emmy bravely continues on with her two jobs. "I willed the lift to get stuck so I could sit on the floor and nod off." "Dear Mrs. Bird" was a fast read. Though I don't recommend you read it in public, lest you embarrass yourself either laughing or crying. It reflected an accurate and well researched portrayal of what life was like living in London during the Blitz. The constant bombing and devastation, the rationing, the losses.... AND the stoicism of the people who valiantly tried to maintain a positive outlook while there was little to be positive about. The story was written with a kind of innocence. Emmy was very young, so she had a young person's righteous and innocent world view. Her experiences were daunting, yet she remained true to herself and the people she loved. Yes, along with some laughter, there were many tears shed IN the novel, and, I might add, ON the novel (there were parts where I blubbered like a fool). Written with warmth, empathy and humor, A.J. Pearce's debut is a resounding success. I hope you'll read it for yourself and see. Highly recommended.

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Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce From the dust jacket: “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.” I loved this book so much! Emmy is such a fantastic character – and so is Bunty, of course! Mrs. Bird’s list of Unpleasant topics (as mentioned in the above description) is ridiculously Victorian: “Topics That Will Not Be Published Or Responded To By Mrs. Bird (NB: list is not exclusive and will be added to when required) Marital relations Premarital relations Extramarital relations Physical relations Sexual relations in general (all issues, mentions, suggestion, or results of) Illegal activities Political activities and opinions Religious activities and opinions (excl. queries regarding church groups and services) The war (excl. queries regarding rationing, voluntary services, clubs, and practicalities) Cookery” All letters on Cookery are to be forwarded to a Mrs. Croft who runs the What’s In The Hot Pot? feature, all others on the list are to be cut into pieces and thrown into the trash, which is incredibly harsh. Luckily, after reading some of these so-called capitol U “Unpleasant” letters, Emmy agrees with me. It’s just wrong not to give some kind of advice, support or solace to people who write in baring their souls and confessing their innermost secrets. And can I just say that Mrs. Bird has made an art of victim blaming? She’s terrible. The way she reacts to letters that she considers “Unpleasant” is just awful – even the way she reacts to some of the letters she does deem worthy of a response is very much full of blaming, shaming and callous most of the time. I would not want to go to her for advice. After reading a letter by a seventeen year old girl (“In a Muddle”) who (along with her friend) may be getting into “trouble” with some boys in in the Navy, Emmy can’t bring herself to cut the letter up and bin it, instead she puts it in her drawer, knowing that she can’t deny this poor girl some advice. The moment where Emmy reads the letter and decides not to cut it up really touched my heart. As a grown woman who was once a very scared and confused young girl that needed advice and help so desperately that she wrote in to an advice column (I still have the typewritten letter I got back from Abby of “Dear Abby” fame), I know how much it means to be listened to when you reach out for help and advice like this. Feeling like you are being heard is a very powerful thing. Sometimes people don’t know where else to turn and that’s why these types of advice columns, as silly as they may seem, can actually be a very wonderful thing. The fact that Mrs. Bird would refuse to look at letters that she judged unworthy or unpleasant for whatever reason just made me sad and angry, and Emmy’s realization that sometimes these are the people who need help the most made me love her all the more. I don’t want to give away too much of the book or the plot, but as I said, I loved this book. It was such a fun, engaging and heartwarming read and I wished it would never end so I could stay with these characters longer. AJ Pearce’s writing style was excellent – wonderfully funny, charming, sweet and touching, the book moved at a quick pace and I didn’t want to put it down. Reading Dear Mrs. Bird also made me feel somehow closer to my relatives living in England during the war, like I was getting a glimpse (albeit a fictional one) of what their lives might have been like during that period. Somehow this book manages to be as comforting as a warm hug, even with the war raging, Mrs. Bird’s awfulness and all the other trials and tribulations throughout. AJ Pearce has created some truly lovely characters in Emmy and Bunty, their friendship is so sweet and they’re the kind of girls I would love to hang out with. I’m so happy to learn that Dear Mrs. Bird has been optioned for television, because I think it will make a wonderful film or television program and I’m really looking forward to seeing it on screen! We need more female driven films and tv shows, and I think that Emmy and Bunty are wonderful characters and that Dear Mrs. Bird will translate beautifully into television. Congratulations to AJ Pearce on a great book and all the well-deserved success it has been having! This is definitely a book I will be buying a copy of for myself, because I know I will want to reread it often! And I’m really looking forward to seeing what AJ Pearce writes next! I just can’t say enough good things about this book! I’m so happy that I got a chance to read it! Huge thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and AJ Pearce, I feel so honored to have been given the chance to read this advanced copy!

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This book was a total change of pace for me and what a welcome one it was. Dear Mrs Bird captivates and portrays wartime London through the eyes of Emmeline Lake . This book reels you in, you laugh, you make you cry but most of all you will cheer on Emmeline! Well worth the read

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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- “A marvelous treat. Charming and delightful.” —Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist— a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls. 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. What a lovely, enjoyable book! You and your book clubs will devour this book and talk about it for hours, days, and weeks on end. There are so many layers to this book that will keep you reading way into the darkness of the night...there is no way to put this book down when bedtime comes! AJ Perce is a force to be reckoned with, fellow authors: please write more books!!! 5 sparkly stars!

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What a charming read! I knew once I reached the half way point I wasn't going to sleep that night until I had read it cover to cover. I was drawn to this book straight away as I love reading how every day people lived their life during the war. I have read a lot of books of war stories based in Germany but it was a nice change it was to be able to see things from an English perspective as well. Pearce used actual magazine's from the war era as inspiration to paint a relatable picture of life during the war. Henrietta's Helps, like other advice columns during that time, was a way for women to seek advice on things they were dealing with. When Emmeline, a wannabe journalist, who was hired to do nothing but type, took matters into her own hands she took it upon herself to start replying to letters that were not deemed acceptable to reply to let alone publish. The story takes you on a journey as Emmeline battles life and its hardships all the while doing her bit for the war effort. I laughed, I cried, it was all terribly good!! Thank you to Net Galley for the advance copy.

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Dear Mrs. Bird is such a beautiful, fun story. Very uplifting. Emmy and her friend Bunty are doing what they can during World War II. Emmy works part time as a typist and volunteers at the firehouse with her spare time and Bunty works at the War Office. They are both in their twenties and doing what I am not sure I’d have the strength for, keeping their heads up and being as positive as they can under the circumstances. Air raids are bombing London almost every night but these two ladies and many like them are doing what they can for the war effort at home. During all of this, Emmy who has a dream of being a war correspondent, takes a job at a small woman’s magazine thinking it was for a bigger paper. She ends up opening the letters of Mrs. Bird, the writer of the help column who has strong ideas about “acceptable” letters. Emmy ends up feeling sad for those who’s letters do not fall into Mrs. Bird’s strong opinions and writes to them herself. This book is so positive and happy and fun despite the setting and I love it. While reading it, I described Emmy as plucky and I think I stick by that. She has a strong can-do attitude and takes everything in stride. Fun light reading! Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada and Netgalley for access to this book early. Dear Mrs. Bird is published on July 3/18.

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Follow the daily events, adventures and trials of Miss Emmeline Lake, as she deals with life during the Blitz. A wonderfully charming book which shows us the lives of those who survived and thrived during that challenging time. From fashion to food to holding on to her dreams of being a writer, we get to know Miss Lake, and I know that I surely missed her as the last page was turned.

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Dear Mrs Bird is a great read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I really loved how much effort the author put in to the language so it felt very authentic to the time period . Emmy wants nothing more than to be a war correspondent and do her part to help England in the war . When she lands what she thought was her dream job, Emmy’s world is quickly turned upside down and she has to make some tough decisions about ethics and when to stand up for those in need. Despite the drama of the war, this novel was humours and light making it a great summer read.

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A delightful and witty piece of historical fiction which will have you both laughing and crying. Emmy is an aspiring girl war correspondent who leaves her job as a secretary at a law firm to work for a newspaper. Her dreams are dashed when she discovers that she is merely a typist for Mrs. Bird, an overbearing and imperious ladies columnist writer who brooks no "unpleasantness" in her column. As Emmy reads the letters sent into the paper, she feels impelled to respond to these heartfelt requests. But she hadn't counted on the consequences her actions would eventually bring. Funny, poignant and touching, this novel will soon become one of your favourites. If you enjoyed reading "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" then you will fall in love with "Dear Mrs. Bird". I would love to see a sequel to this story.

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“If there was anything I wanted most in the world (other, of course, than for the war to end and Hitler to die a quite grisly death), it was to be a journalist. Or to be precise, what people in the know referred to as a Lady War Correspondent.” A. J. Pearce’s debut novel, Dear Mrs. Bird, takes place in London, beginning in 1940. Twenty-two-year-old Emmeline “Emmy” Lake has been volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services when she notices an advertisement for a job as a junior in the London Evening Chronicle. However, the job turns out to be a junior typist position for Henrietta Bird, the ‘agony aunt’ advice columnist for Women’s Friend Magazine. When Emmy takes the job, Mrs. Bird is very clear that any letters that contain “Unpleasantness” (politics, divorce, unhappiness, pregnancies, sex) should be ignored and put directly in the waste paper bin, but Emmy cannot help reading them. Some are from women who have found themselves ‘in the family way’ without being married or had fallen in love with soldiers away on leave. These are strictly outside of the parameters that Mrs. Bird is willing to address. Emmy’s compassion gets the better of her and she begins to secretly write back to these women as Henrietta. Predictably, this backfires. “I told myself we could all get blown up by tomorrow so we might just as well enjoy ourselves.” What is fascinating about this book is its descriptions of the home front during WWII and especially the roles that women played in the workforce. I found it to be incredibly well-researched and the descriptions make you feel as though you are in war torn London right alongside the characters. “Today, London was operating under a low and dreary grey sky, the sort that looked like a giant boy had flung off his school jumper and accidentally covered up the West End.” I found Emmy to be a bit much in the first half of the book. She comes off as being younger than her age, and a little naïve, but her character evolves and matures during the course of the novel. She genuinely wants to help the people she is writing to and so this innate kindness makes her very likeable. Her big heart finally sold me on her character. The book’s description tells you that you will enjoy Emmy’s best friend, Bunty, and in fact she is a lively, loyal, and enjoyable character. Still, I was expecting a bit more from her character. Sometimes I felt like she fell a little flat. Mrs. Bird, on the other hand, is cantankerous and thundering. She subscribes to the ‘stiff up lip’ school of Britishness. Emmy describes her as looking like “a later-life Queen Victoria, only even crosser.” Mrs. Bird believes that “There’s nothing that can’t be sorted with common sense and a strong will.” Other enjoyable characters include Kathleen, a colleague of Emmy’s at the magazine, who is friendly, prudish, and kind. My favourite character, however, was Mr. Collins a disorganized and disheveled fiction writer for the magazine. Each character is loveable in their own way and you grow to really care about, and be concerned for, Emmy when her letter writing is discovered. “In terms of children, four is ample. More than that and one veers into the working classes or Catholicism.” Though this novel is a work of historical fiction, it is impossible to deny that it is also Chick Lit. It is a very light and fluffy novel, until it isn’t. There is a distinct change in tone in the second half of the book when the bombings in London begin in earnest. Still, there is humour throughout. The book is filled with slang that feels authentic to the time period. I enjoyed how the book discussed the fact that even during the war women were expected to act happy, dress well, and provide good meals despite the rations. “Mrs. Bird looked at me as though I was an idiot, which I had a horrible feeling might be about right.” One thing I could have done without in this book is the strange and random-seeming capitalization of words. I found it quite distracting. I also found the plot a tad predictable. Having said that, I quite enjoyed it. “I could see people were ever so frank when they wrote in, which I thought really quite brave. Mrs. Bird was just a stranger at a magazine, but readers told her their secrets all the same.” This is a story about the indomitable strength of the human spirit and how it can transcend even the greatest hardships. It will make you laugh and cry. I also discusses the importance of having close friends and family during your hardest times and the ways in which women rely upon each other. This was shown through the friendship of Emmy and Bunty, which I thought was very well-written. “I had shown this letter to Mrs. Bird. She’d said the woman had only herself to blame.” Easter Egg: If you read the Author’s Note at the back of the book, you will discover that Mrs. Bird is based on a real advice columnist during the Second World War. These columnists were known in the UK as ‘agony aunts’ because they gave practical, and sometimes harsh, advice. “After a big raid it was always sad to see flattened buildings and burnt-out churches which had stood for hundreds of years, but there was something rather triumphant about the monuments and statues, even the parks and big department stores that were still there, getting on with things.” Dear Mrs. Bird is no All The Light We Cannot See or Everyone Brave is Forgiven. It is a much lighter book, even when it is talking about very serious matters. However, it is a very readable book that I think most people will enjoy. Let me know what you think in the comments section. Thank you to Net Galley and Picador Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. Grade: B+/A-

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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. This was a little fluffier than my usual fare (although some gritty spots), but still a worthwhile story about a young lady's "journalistic" escapades during the London Blitz. Recommended.

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Never have I read a book where I can understand something is A Very Good Thing so clearly. The turn of phrase made this book a hilarious page turner with the mental picture painted to show the facial expressions so vividly. I laughed, and kept reading the next chapter. Lovely story!

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Set in London 1940, Dear Mrs. Bird is the story of Emmeline Lake, who has big dreams of being a lady war corespondent. After responding to a job advertisement as a writer for the London evening chronicle Emmeline believes her dream is about to become all to real. Problem is the job is not to be a war corespondent but working on an advice column. Her boss instructs her to not include any letters from women with "unpleasantness". When Emmy starts reading the letters of woman who have gone to far with men, who aren't their husbands, to protect their families or desperate to avoid evacuation Emmy knows she must respond to these women and let them know they are not alone. I loved Emmy so much I wanted to be best friends with her. She and Bunty reminded me of so much of my friend group and I can only hope we would be as strong willed as they are. The whole cast of characters was great but I did find some of them to be a tad over the top. Namely Lord Overton. The whole end of the novel with him seemed a tad over the top and more of an ending to end then an actual ending. The book in general was fantastic. I kid you not I cried. I was so wrapped up in the story I genuinely could not stop myself from bawling around the middle of the story (those of you who have read it know exactly what I'm talking about. The only problem I had was the ending. as someone else but it felt more like a telenova then a 1940's war time novel. At the end of the novel the author has written a statement about finding their inspiration for this novel from old women's magazines. It gave me quite a bit of context on how the book came about and I really liked that. Overall I would give this book 3 stars. I would have given it 4 had the author given it a better ending but it felt over dramatic where the rest of the book did not have that tone.

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I am so looking forward to sharing this lovely historical fiction title with my customers. It's rare that I can say a book made me both laugh and cry. Emmy and her friends are instantly likeable characters, full of good humour and bravery. I think that this would be a perfect fit for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

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Review of Dear Mrs. Bird I liked this book very much. Although I think that it was written to appeal to women, I found it fascinating and enjoyable as a male. The author writes very, very well and has produced a novel that is fresh, believable and engaging. I was pleasantly surprised and not only enjoyed the book but I gained a better understanding of this period of history and the important part that women played during the London blitz. It provides a glimpse of the lives, loves and concerns of people left at home during the war. The story concerns Emmeline Lake, a young woman who is hired by a newspaper expecting that she will be a reporter and correspondent. Instead she finds herself serving as a clerk for Mrs. Bird, an agony aunt who has written an advice column for years. Mrs. Bird is an out-of-touch repressed prude and a harridan. The heroine can’t tolerate her uncaring attitude, inadequate replies and her refusal to deal with many of the problems of the people who write her. In desperation and knowing that she is putting her job at risk Emmeline begins to answer these letters and signs them as Mrs. Bird. The outcome is delicious, fraught with suspense and ends with a believable satisfactory ending. This book is a good read, interesting and educational. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy it.

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A wonderful glimpse into life during the London Blitz (WWII), lightened with humour and filled with heart. This is a perfect choice for anyone looking for something a little lighter, but that still has depth.

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Dear Mrs. Bird A.J. Pearce Emmeline Lake, a young, courageous, at times reckless and silly girl carrying an enormous load of compassion for others, is the hero of this novel set in the midst of the Battle of Britain. She sets out to be a Lady Journalist but takes a job as a typist for a woman writing an advice column in a ladies' magazine. That woman, her boss, has no compassion whatsoever, especially for Anything or Anyone Unpleasant, as defined by her. But Emmeline has that load of compassion and, much against all wise counsel, writes private letters of reply. Needless to say, she lands in enormous trouble. So frothy and fun, right? Mostly, and romantic, but this was London in WWII with bombs and fires and collapsing buildings. Emmy and her best friend Bunty are not immune to the terrors and grief around them that soon becomes all too personal. I thought the author did an excellent job evoking that London and the hardships the people, especially the women endured. A great read that I can recommend highly.

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Delightful story that hides the depth of living under nightly bombing horror with a perky upbeat main character. Dec 1940 during the Blitz of London, Emmeline Lake's story of friendship during good times and bad, shows her fortitude to support the home-front war effort by volunteering on the fire brigade phones all night then work all day on a few hours of sleep. Emmy is undaunted by a job situation when she finds herself working for the stern, old Mrs. Bird, advice columnist, at a women's weekly publication. Emmy's coping mechanism is a bit unorthodox. When faced with tragedy, Emmy's determination to do the right thing is heart wrenching but proves her worthiness as a friend and value as an employee. This seems like a 'light read' until you are drawn into the devastation Londoners faced every morning after a bombing raid. Charming British idioms of the era.

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I found this book to be SO charming and delightful! When I read that it was similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, I assumed it would be written in the same style (letters only), but I was happily surprised that there were letters, dialogue and description. The book was so much better than expected. I love books about WWII that feature strong female characters, and I related well to the character of Emmy. She was so positive and plucky and I especially loved how the author would capitalize parts of sentences such as "Finally I gave what I hoped was a plucky Everything Is Absolutely Tip Top smile." Overall I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more from the author.

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3.5 stars (Publisher review only, I will publicly post my review closer to the pub date) The storyline and the main character had me charmed from the get-go. I found Emmy Lake particularly funny and had a hard time keeping up with her - in a good way! I really enjoyed the writing style and the point of view of Emmy during trying times. I connected with her instantly as she was a breath of fresh air and had my mind swirling with positivity. A.J. Pearce took a lot of time to develop her characters into well-rounded people that you actually feel something for. While I was a bit confused about some of the grammar, namely the capitalization, I am also not an expert so I’d say it was just a tad unnecessary more than anything else. I tend to read a lot of both WW2 fiction and non-fiction and this story was unique in the sense that it brought a fresh new, young perspective to light. Thank you so much for the advanced copy. I downed it in a little over a day!

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This is not a book that I would have picked for myself, but thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy in exchange for a fair review I dropped all my other books to give a special attention to this one. The first 60% is very enjoyable but lack some excitement. The remaining 40% was really great. The writing is excellent. The storyline is interesting and very easy to follow. The story is very cute but someone may find it a bit frivolous (that was my impression in the beginning). The setting is around the 2nd WW, so I was expecting a lot of drama, but it had the right amount. It was nice to have a break from the extreme violent stories that I’m used to reading. This is really a great debut and very refreshing.

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I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. Set in 1940/41, this features Emmeline, who volunteers as a telephonist with the London fire service and accidentally gets a job assisting an agony aunt (Mrs Bird) on a little-read women's magazine. Mrs Bird will only answer the most anodyne of letters and Emmeline starts answering some herself. Initially I found this overly-upbeat in a "that pesky war" kind of way, but it quickly settled down into a more realistic representation of life under Luftwaffe bombing. There was a little romance and a lovely portrayal of Emmeline's bonds with her parents and brother. The ending was perhaps a touch neat and convenient, but overall an enjoyable read.

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I received a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was drawn to read this book because I have a great interest in the era of World War 2. My father served overseas during that war and I am fortunate enough to have all of the letters he sent home. This particular book cover also drew my attention as I spent many an hour using an old typewriter with keys like that in my younger days. Emmy Lake is a delightful young lady who lives in an upstairs flat with her best friend Bunty. She volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services helping to send the firefighters out to different areas which have been hit during the blitz but her true desire is to become a "Lady War Correspondent" and actually visit different war zones. When she sees an ad in the paper for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, she thinks this might be the answer to all her dreams only to find that she will really be working as an assistant to Mrs. Bird, a cantankerous older woman who writes an advice column for a woman's magazine. Mrs. Bird has a long list of forbidden subjects that will never be mentioned in her column but Emmy finds it hard to turn away from the letters which come in from young women whose lives have been affected by all that is going on around them in wartime England. When she decides to answer some of them herself, things get very interesting. Emmy comes across as being rather young and naive for her age. She is the narrator of the story and as I read I could practically hear her voice trying to tell her story just as fast as she could. In the early part of the book there were a few run on sentences that were poorly structured and made me stop to try and figure out what she was saying, but this was less of an issue as the novel progressed. Wartime in England was not easy and Emmy was clearly living in a war zone although she didn't really recognize it as such initially. There were moments in the book that brought me to tears and others where I laughed. In many respects this seemed to be a coming of age book set in a time when survival was not guaranteed. As a debut novel, I found the book very enjoyable. The author was inspired by reading an old wartime magazine and seeing the agony aunt columns such as Mrs. Bird was supposed to write. I felt she captured the time period very well. I would love to follow Emmy in a future book to see even more of how her life turns out as the war progresses.

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This is an enjoyable,sometimes hilarious and lighthearted story, but also contains sadness and heartbreak. It focuses on people courageously attempting to lead normal lives in London, 1940. Many volunteer to aid in the war effort during a time of German air raids with bombs dropping on the city. Still life goes on, and love, romance and friendships develop and endure. There is also tragedy, loss, misunderstandings and hardships and a theme of forgiveness. Emmeline is a volunteer part time telephone operator for a auxiliary fire department which is kept busy with fires caused by German bombing. She has dreamed of becoming a war correspondent, perhaps interviewing victims of the Blitz or even working behind enemy lines. She sees an opportunity to eventually fulfill her goal when she replies to an ad to work for what she believes is a leading London newspaper. Instead she finds that the position was for a failing womans’ weekly magazine as a typist. Her boss is the frightening Mrs. Bird who writes an advice column. Among Emma’s many chores is sorting and cutting up letters requesting Mrs. Bird’s advice which she would judge as Unacceptable and the writers depraved. Only the mildest pleas for advice can be passed on to Mrs. Bird. Even these are usually answered with blame and sarcasm. Letters never to reach Mrs. Bird’s desk are those dealing with relationships (premarital, marital and extramarital), the effects of war, politics and religious matters. While sorting the mail, Emma feels sympathy for some of the writers and wants to help and give them words of encouragement. She is young and has limited experience, but studies how the more popular and successful magazines deal with similar problems in their advice columns. She personally and secretly replies when there is a stamp and address, knowing Mrs. Bird would never help. This could cause her a lot of trouble, but even worse she inserts some of her advice into the magazine when the writer seeking advice was anonymous. To make matters worse she forges Mrs. Bird’s signature. There is suspense wondering if Emma’s act will be eventually discovered and if so, what the repercussions might be. In the midst of this romances develop for Emma and her best friend/roommate and tragedy disrupts their lives and those around them. I thought this was a lovely book. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon& Schuster for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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A sweet, uplifting story of a very young woman trying to find her way (making plenty of mistakes along the way) during the Blitz. Recommended for fans of Chillbury Ladies Choir, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

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