The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Experience World War 2 through the eyes of two very different women in this captivating New York Times bestseller.

Sarah Blake is the author of the novels Grange House and the New York Times bestseller The Postmistress. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two sons. Sarah’s newest book The Guest House is also available now!

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A postmistress not only holds the key to the mail delivery, she also holds the “keys to the city.” She knows the comings and goings of the citizens, whether each one reveals clues or not. My grandmother was a “postmistress” during this same time; early 1940’s, in a small rural community in south Louisiana. I really cannot imagine her dismay at the thought of holding a letter and not delivering it to the recipient. Even though we’d all like to think we’d do the right thing, what is the right thing? In Sarah Blake’s novel, Frankie Bard, “radio gal,” is with Edward Murrow, CBS radio in London and Europe, during the early years of World War ll. She introduces the reader to the conundrum of how to handle the delivery of news. Frankie was impressed by Murrow’s ability to narrate over the incoming drone of the Luftwaffe, and wanted to add her voice so that Americans would sit up and pay attention and certainly not look away.

Returning to her London flat after a night of bombing, Frankie finds the back of the flat has vanished along with Harriet, her roommate. Harriet’s quest had been to collect the stories of Jews in Europe and to make people aware of what was happening. Frankie takes on this challenge and begins a journey across France by train, to interview and record the voices and stories of those she meets. In her head Frankie’s not sure how the “voices” will come together in a broadcast, but in her heart she knows she must gather the depth of feelings she glimpses in the eyes of the Jewish mothers and fathers, and in the tears of the children.

Meanwhile, stateside, two young women cross paths in the small town of Franklin, Massachusetts. One is Iris, the Postmistress, and the other, Emma, who marries the town doctor. At this point the United States has not entered the war, and most of the town folks are not too concerned-except for Harry-who keeps up a nightly vigil for U-Boats and wants the town flag pole lowered so it doesn’t attract attention from off- shore.

The reader will feel the jolting of the train creeping through the darkness, as Frankie begins her journey to record the stories of the Jews; feeling the stress of those traveling toward Strasbourg, Lyon, and Lisbon, hoping for an escape to America. Sarah Blake’s descriptions and storytelling keep the reader anxious, yet eventually fulfilled, as she takes you on a ride on the radio waves with Frankie all the way from London back to lands’ end in Massachusetts. Pack lunch and a suitcase for a satisfying ride with Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress.

Edward Roscoe Murrow, April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1965) was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent. He first gained prominence during World War II with a series of live radio broadcasts from Europe for the news division of CBS.

Keep Calm and Carry On is a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.

Crescendo-The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town by Allen Cheney with Julie Cantrell

” Allen Cheney was born and raised in Thomasville Georgia. Ever close to his southern Georgia roots while navigating through his many creative endeavors in Los Angeles, Allen Cheney finds sharing his grandparents, Fred and Winnie Allen’s life story the pinnacle project for his career. “I have always had an unbelievable bond with my grandparents, Fred and Winnie Allen. They instilled in me a creative drive and dedication to excellence that has been the cornerstone for my success,” – Allen Cheney

“As I share the story of Fred Allen, I write not to tell you who he is but to examine why he is and to learn all we can from this musical prodigy, who overcame absolute brokenness to become one of the most influential music mentors ever known.” Prologue; Crescendo

” I’m very excited to announce the release of my first collaborative work of creative non-fiction, CRESCENDO, co-authored with Allen Cheney. I hope you’ll enjoy this inspirational story based on the lives of Fred and Winnie Allen as well as the incredible people (and music) of Thomasville, Georgia. “

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

In LaGrange, Georgia, 1935, Fred Allen is born; immediately deemed a caulbearer, due to a chalkey shroud over his head. Some called it “born behind the veil; others said the baby was cursed. Mayhayley Lancaster, teacher and oracle, but most importantly, midwife-life-giver and a godsend, was on hand to say, “Nonsense!” “You’re a special one, aren’t you?”

Lots of folks in this poor cotton mill town were suffering the devastating effects of the Depression. The evil behavior of many had a lifelong emotional impact on young Fred’s life. Born with the gift of playing music “by ear, a voice known as “heldentenor,” and handsome good looks, all carried Fred Allen to unbelievable places:  the Juilliard School in New York City, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and eventually the professional music scene.  God certainly placed many people in Fred’s life as he climbed out of the drudgery of that small Georgia town: There was Noah, his grandfather and educator, Eleanor, recently out of prison who became his protector, and eventually the love of his life, Winnie Langley.

“We are the company we keep,” is proven over and over again as Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell, share the true story of his grandparents. The belief of just one person can restore hope when one feels all is lost. Fred Allen who survived abuse, hunger & poverty; was saved by God’s mercy and grace, to have a lasting impact on thousands. He was surely a “Music Man” to many.

The author shares many letters of thanks and appreciation that were written to Fred Allen, his grandfather, and to Winnie, his grandmother. When the reader reflects on this body of “life work” surely a teacher or mentor will come to mind. Someone that should be thanked and appreciated for their love and belief in you, that was maybe that one spark of hope when needed most.

Crescendo is the true story of a musical genius. Authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell have composed a beautiful score to accompany the life of Fred Allen. The Grateful Reader is soothed by the gentle gift of mercy and hope revealed in Crescendo. Miracles DO happen.

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

“Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of The Summer Wives, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization.”

Coming July 9, 2019

Government House
Wallis & Edward at Government House
Harry & Eunice Oakes- Richest man in the British Empire

Research & Rabbit trails! As I was searching for images I found a wonderful site that I’d like to share. It has much of the historical background you’ll need for The Golden Hour! Historian & author: Caroline Harris

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The former King of England and his American bride,Wallis Simpson, the Bahamas, World War II and an unsolved murder in 1943: the “golden” setting for The Golden Hour.

The plucky young American, Leonora Thorpe, is in the Bahamas to give the American readers of the Metropolitan Magazine an inside view of Nassau society-meaning the Duke & Duchess of Windsor. The world famous, Edward and Wallis, are serving as governor and live at Government House. (Americans have always had an appetite for the “royals,” which continues to this day.) Leonora, Lulu, also known as the “Lady of Nassau” for her column in the Metropolitan, entrenches herself in high society and becomes a confidant of the Duchess. As Lulu gets involved with the rich and famous of the islands, she also begins to unravel the story of her husband’s family dating back to Germany and Switzerland in the 1900’s. The saga of Elfriede & Gerhard, and her quest for love and a united family takes the reader on a journey of pain and suffering, but also “wonderment” – questioning loyalties and how far love and devotion should extend. This novel is laced with joy and heartache, but is worth the emotional “royal rollercoaster,” to the very last page. It’s a 5 star golden read!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

“A painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…. Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders — and dangers — of her private world.”

Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa—Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Kya remembered Ma always encouraging her to explore the marsh: “Go as far as you can-way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” The North Carolina coastal marshes and swamp, a murder, and a young girl abandoned since she was 7, are mushed into the most glorious novel of a young girl finding her power and voice among the seashells, fireflies, and mushrooms; all the while surviving on her own gumption and sass. The descriptions are so delicately painted by Delia’s prose that it seems The Sea Shells of the Eastern Seaboard, by Catherine Danielle Clark, should be available on Amazon!

The novel has a dual timeline; alternating between Kya, the Marsh Girl’s childhood, and the accidental death, or was it murder- of Chase Andrews, a former standout quarterback at the local high school. The exquisite details of the sunsets, fog, marshes, and close up views of insects and plants are woven among the tense, prejudice-filled opinions of the locals and how they feel about the uneducated, “marsh trash”, so aptly named, the Marsh Girl.

Where the Crawdads Sing has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 27 weeks, currently. This is for extremely good reason! Readers will feel the music of the gulls’ wings as they flock to be fed, followed by the haunting verses of poetry recited by Catherine as she explores the marshes. Catherine confronts her own feelings of loneliness & abandonment, trusting people again, forgiveness and the empowerment of sheer survival. If she can survive, anyone can.

If only the rare sea shells, bird feathers and marsh grasses, so beautifully described, were actually in watercolor and print; but you do have Where the Crawdads Sing, to read over and over, until the glorious images are imprinted in your mind. Sheer Joy!

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

“Barbados, 1854.  Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous English merchant clan—merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.”

“A sweeping Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.


Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pink Carnation series and several stand alone works of historical fiction, including The Ashford AffairThat SummerThe Other DaughterThe English Wife, and the collaborative novels, The Forgotten Room and The Glass Ocean. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Born and raised in southern Louisiana, home of sugar cane plantations and Bayou Rum, the “rustling of the canes” brought back vivid memories of visits to my grandparents. The setting of Summer Country is 1800 colonial Barbados: an eastern Caribbean island. In the opening chapters the reader is transported from the gray skies of Bristol, England-its cobbles, comforts & lifestyle of wealthy English shipping merchants- by a ride in a barouche with brass trappings- to Barbados with the sun pounding down & the rhythm of horses’ hooves. The reader blinks in the bright sunlight, senses the scorching heat, and is blinded by the white roads winding by pastel houses flanked by the bright scarlet leaves of the trees. Lauren Willig’s vivid descriptions of the plantation countryside leave you wishing for more than a parasol with fringes for relief and protection! The generations represented in this saga of plantation owners, slaves, their offspring, and secrets, keep the reader rolling past acres and acres of sugar cane fields, hoping to find the next clue to the connection between the owners of Beckles Plantation & Emily Dawson’s recently inherited, Peverills. You’ll want a cool rum beverage and a fan blowing in your face as the heat of this novel causes that trickle of sweat down your back as you race to find out the family secrets in a novel that was ten years in the making.

Lauren Willig’s detailed descriptions and thoroughly researched topics of slavery, sugar islands, medical practices, and the nineteenth-century race relations make this a five star read for the Grateful Reader.

cutting sugar cane Had to give a nod to Bayou Rum, where our Louisiana sugar cane crop ends up!

Paris By the Book by Liam Callanan

A missing person, a grieving family, a curious clue: a half-finished manuscript set in Paris. Heading off in search of its author, a mother and her daughters find themselves in France, rescuing a failing bookstore and drawing closer to unexpected truths.

Liam Callanan is a novelist, teacher and journalist. His novel, Paris by the Book was translated into multiplelanguages and was the 2019 winner of the Edna Ferber Prize. He’s also the 2017 winner of the Hunt Prize, and his first novel, The Cloud Atlas, was a finalist for an Edgar Award. Liam’s work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Slate, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, and he’s recorded numerous essays for public radio.  He’s also taught for the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and lives in Wisconsin with his wife and daughters.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Dreams…. Do you have them only when you’re young? Do you give them up for your spouse and family? Do you follow them no matter who gets hurt or who you leave behind? This is one of the far reaching conundrums of growing into an adult, falling in love and getting married as you are growing, and hopefully changing. Now what? The decisions you make have a lasting impact on your own life plus the ones you’ve created! Seems so heavy, but Paris By the Book explores these questions through the narration of Leah, whose author husband, Robert Eady, has made the decision to leave his family. The search for Robert leads Leah and her daughters to Paris-their longed for, beloved “family dream trip.” The girls have grown up reading Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline and have plotted for years all the places to visit -exactly as presented in “the book”. Following their “Paris by the book” was a charming way to explore all the feelings involved. Liam Callanan delves into abandonment, independence, and denial, then into forgiveness and acceptance. I did need to run out and buy Madeline and revisit the Paris of dreams, as the Eady girls did. (Link added below; Merci beaucoup!)

So Liam Callanan asks the reader if Paris is so wonderful because everyone there is dreaming it to be OR because it really is?? I hope to visit one day and find out for myself.

Go get a copy of Paris By the Book and Madeline so you can begin your own “dream trip to Paris!”

Madeline is a book series, part of the Madeline media franchise, originally created by Ludwig Bemelmans. The series follows the daily adventures of Madeline, a 7-year-old girl attending a boarding school in Paris with eleven other girls, under the care of their teacher, Miss Clavel.

I would want this one pictured; with the pop-up spread of Paris! “Au revoir!” GR

All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio

A novel by Sarah Jio

Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Publication date August 13, 2019

Sarah Jio is the New York Times bestselling author of ALWAYS, published by Random House (Ballantine), as well as seven other novels from Penguin Books, including, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER, THE LAST CAMELLIA, MORNING GLORY, GOODNIGHT JUNE, and THE LOOK OF LOVE. Sarah is also a journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, and many others. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Her novels are translated into more than 25 languages. Sarah lives in Seattle with her three young boys.

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

In All the Flowers in Paris, Caroline and Celine, though decades apart, are actually connected by the city of Paris, a discovery of lost letters, and hidden secrets;these are arranged in an enchanting bouquet of a novel told in the form of a dual narrative. For readers who just can’t get enough of stories of courage that come out of Nazi-occupied Paris and the lengths women went to protect their loved ones-here’s the novel for you! It’s filled with lessons of love, gratitude and forgiveness. You’ll treasure your families and the freedoms you have as this novel unfolds and blooms in your heart and mind.

Streets of Paris

Villages of Normandy