Originally appeared in Library Journal, April 2018.
In 1940’s wartime London, 22 year old Emmy applies for a job at what she assumes will be the London Evening Chronicle, which would fulfill her lifelong dream to be a journalist. With her fiance Edmund away at war, Emmy does her part at home, volunteering evenings at the firehouse call center during air raids. To her initial dismay, her position is a junior typist at Women’s Friend magazine. Her primary role is to type responses for Mrs. Bird’s Problem Page, much like a modern-day Dear Abby. Overbearing and rude, Mrs. Bird refuses letters deemed unpleasant, only allowing Emmy to answer the most mundane with unhelpful responses. After an upsetting telegram from Edmund, Emmy boldly begins answering the poor women whose real problems Mrs. Bird would ignore, keeping it secret from even her best friend, Bunty. Emmy bravely commutes home in the evenings, keeping a positive outlook, but when tragedy strikes too close to home, she is filled with guilt and loss. VERDICT: Fans of JoJo Moyes will enjoy Pearce’s debut with its plucky female characters and unique picture of women’s life in wartime Britain.