One of my favorite books of 2019 was Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce, which I read just before the lockdown and the horrible pandemic thing ensued. I love that book so much that my family finally did an intervention and asked me to STOP talking about Emmy and her friends. Since then, I’ve recommended Dear Mrs. Bird to all my book friends. Even though it is set during WWII when London was being bombed left and right, it is so uplifting and lovely.
Over the pandemic, I was lucky to log on to a few virtual book discussions with A. J. Pearce, who it must be said is just as Uplifting and Lovely as her now three books (IYKYK). Virtual activities such as those made the pandemic so much more bearable.
Book two in the series is Yours Cheerfully, where Emmy and Bunty continue their adventures and contribution to the war effort, which was among my favorite reads for 2021.
So of course I was thrilled to see book three being talked about in social media. When I saw it listed in NetGalley’s new books, I rushed to request it, and I was Thrilled to Death to get approved. Long story short, this is my review of what I’m sure will be my favorite book of 2023.
Mrs. Porter Calling continues the story of Emmy and her friends during war-time London, touching on food shortages, food shopping with ration coupons, bombed-out office buildings, and sadly, the lives of those returning from the front with severe injuries and those who don’t return at all. Through it all, Emmy and Bunty keep a stiff upper lip and carry on, in the most British of ways. This story centers on Emmy’s work life, the magazine Woman’s Friend and her work family as they go to battle with a new owner, Mrs. Porter, her obnoxious office manager, and her ridiculously spoiled dog, Small Winston. The devices that A. J. Pearce has applied so effectively in the first two books continue on, always with a light touch, including the capitalization of non-proper nouns. One of the funniest parts of this story is Mrs. Pye, the fashion and beauty columnist, who loves all things French and as Emmy says, uses her “schoolgirl French” to try to be Parisian herself, élégant indeed.
While there are so many funny episodes in this book including Small Winston and other pets, the war and the Germans are never far from the page. There is heartbreaking tragedy for Emmy and her friends, the stress of losing not only friends and loved ones, compounded by the threat of losing her job and her work family. Yet, somehow, A. J. Pearce wraps it all up in a soft, warm blanket of inspiration and positivity. Maybe it is her British temperament, but it is so endearing to me.
The world is a terrible place right now for so many people, it doesn’t seem like leisure reading to take on a book series that focuses on London during WWII, but Pearce’s deft pen weaves such good into that time period, that is a lovely escape.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book, and thank you A. J. Pearce, for such a wonderful addition to the Emmy Lake series.