Why we love this book
Because the idea of a postcard starting a journey seems like a forgotten and lost art.
Story in a nutshell
On his death bed, Melissa Boyd’s father confesses a secret and a postcard that takes her on a journey across the world and into the past.
Caroline has led a privileged life brought up by her Aunt Phoebe. Caroline then falls in love and elopes to Cairo but things do not turn out well. Alone with a newborn son, the war breaks out and she is compelled to join up.
When she returns, her son has gone.
Place and setting
The story opens in Adelaide where Melissa’s father decides to come clean for the past and opens up about what a postcard means for the family.
Immediately we go back in time to Scotland and the fictional Dalradnor lodge which is somewhere near the Clyde River and the Campsie fells. It is a landscape of rugged hills, sheep, heather and rough winds but to Callie it is home. There’s Dundee jam jars and Fair isle jumpers too which evoke atmosphere. Let’s not forget a trip in to Glasgow and tea at the tea rooms in Sauchiehall street!
Cairo – Callie’s husband works as an advisor of the British government to the king of Egypt and as they live in various hotels and she is taken to the Khan el Khali souk and the Gezira club. Glittering and glamourous yet with a hollow heart in the dusty Egyptian desert.
War time London – A time where dances were held in the club 400 in Leicester square and where the Gaiety Girls were fun and happy. Caroline meets Toby here and they elope to Cairo but whilst in London the fun of the season is had with dances, music halls and a tea in Patisserie Valerie’s which you should visit for real! – https://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/default.aspx
Mentions of Paris, Bruges and Brussels too – Marthe goes back to her homeland so we learn more of where she came from and see the interesting architecture of both places.
Wow – well what a story this turned out to be!! From the blurb and even the first few chapters I though this was going to be a nice if slightly heartbreaking tale of one woman’s search for the truth over a postcard. But her journey takes the reader over the world to different times and periods in history and right up until the onset of war. Epic would be a good word to use or cinematic and I could certainly imagine this on the big screen.
Melissa starts the story in the present day and then we get swept immediately back in time to meet Callie and Phoebe only returning to Melissa briefly later on. I really wanted to know Melissa better although getting to know the story of the other two women at the same time as she did, I did feel as if I was reading the letters etc as she was.
The most intriguing part of this novel was the way in which one secret can grow and grow to have so many consequences that it doesn’t even bare thinking about. Secrets in the past and in the present day which tie the women of the 1930s and the present day together.
The genius of this novel is the way in which a real story – and if you read the dedication at the front of the novel you will understand – and the tragedy behind it all. When you read this you feel as if The Postcard just hits the tip of the iceberg of what really lies beneath.
The depiction of the Second World War is fascinating and shows the extreme lengths that some women went to in order to help the war effort.
A fascinating and heartbreaking account of family struggles, lies and love.