Postmistress and some Remarkable Creatures (again)

It seems a long time since last July when I started this blog and I mentioned it, but I’ve just reread ( for a Book Group) Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures

I really enjoyed this book when I read it about a year ago, and have enjoyed re reading it. I actually listened to the first four chapters on a “Playaway” a pre loaded MP3 player borrowed from the library. It is good listening to a book, and this was an unabridged version. On the other hand, 9 hours is a long time to listen with headphones, so I read the rest very fast.

This novel is good however you treat it. It has conflict between classes, gender expectations and religious/creationist beliefs. It explores the frustrations of women who do not expect to marry and therefore lack a role. It also looks at the class and gender distinctions which mean that the first person to dig up the fossils gets the least credit for them. There is a little romance, but really this is about the struggles of two very different women to be taken seriously. It is a sad book, but also a triumphant book as the whole scientific world is rocked by a girl who cannot represent herself. It is a much more satisfactory book than the others I have read by this author, and is fascinating even for those with no scientific background.

My other book for today is The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.

I first mentioned this book a while ago. It is a good book, harrowing in parts, sad, but also very interesting. I think its strongest section is the broadcasting from London in the Blitz by a fictional (though apparently based on fact) Frankie Bard, a female journalist who becomes very involved in the lives of many others by her broadcasts, her journeys and her eventual  return to America. The character of Frankie is well drawn, reflecting the problems of a woman in a place where war is so close, so personal. I thought that these sections are really well written. What really lets this book down, in my opinion,  is the American angle, which is where the novel becomes a very mournful book. I think that Blake’s descriptions of the Blitz and the displaced persons are excellent, and well written. The American sections are sad, sentimental and so slow. I know that this is an American writer, and it is a valid view of the War as it affected most of the world, but I found that it lacked the insight, the interesting drama of the rest of the book. I think that there are times when it slides into melodrama, which is disappointing.

What do you think?

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