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!