Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Mrs. Porter Calling by A.J. Pearce - more about Emmy!

Title: Mrs. Porter Calling
Author: A.J. Pearce
Publication: Scribner, hardcover, 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: WWII London
Description: Rejoice, the third book about Emmy Lake has arrived and while the dark days of WWII are still with us, there is an indomitable spirit at the Women's Friend magazine and at the house in Pimlico where she lives with her best friend.In Dear Mrs. Bird, Emmy and her friend Bunty moved to London for jobs and to do their bit in the war effort. Emmy wound up working on an advice column for a magazine and had various misadventures. In Yours Cheerfully, Emmy learned about the challenges faced by women working in factories and tried to improve conditions – she also got married, although her husband had to return overseas a few days later. Now, just as the staff of Women’s Friend has improved circulation and ad sales, and readers are loving Emmy’s column, Yours Faithfully, the Honorable Mrs. Cressida Porter has become the new owner and wants to change the magazine to appeal to her rich friends instead of Britain’s middle class. Worst of all, she disapproves of the advice column taking on real problems and won’t listen even to Guy Collins, the trusted editor of the magazine – and Emmy’s brother-in-law. What can Emmy and her friends do to save the magazine before Ms. Porter drives it into the ground?

My Impression: Dear Mrs. Bird was my favorite book of 2019 – it had everything one could ask for in a novel: vivid characters, a mixture of humor and tragedy, a dramatic WWII backdrop, romance that enlivens but does not overwhelm, and a story that was fresh and appealing. Because Emmy’s personality and good humor are such important parts of this series and she was discouraged during the second book, that was not as joyful as Dear Mrs. Bird, although still very good. Although Emmy has real tribulations in this third book – worrying about her husband and brother who are overseas, trying to outsmart the idiotic new owner of Women’s Friend and keep her coworkers upbeat, and surviving the unexpected death of a friend – her sensitive yet buoyant nature enables her to surmount difficulties and bounce back from adversity. But Mrs. Porter is oblivious to common sense or good taste:
“I do want us to improve the caliber of people in the war work photographs. Look at the article about the poor women who work on the trains. The Ministry wants us to attract workers, not put them off.” She turned to me. “Couldn’t the ghastly looking one have stood at the back?”

Mrs. Shaw tutted. Miss Peters gulped, and Mrs. Mahoney said, “Come now,” in what the rest of us know to be her most unamused tone. But Mrs. Porter seemed quite unaware of how extraordinarily rude she had been.
Even diplomatic Guy Collins, my favorite character besides Emmy, can’t charm or contain Mrs. Porter, and his strategy of trying to bore the new owner into staying away altogether nearly goes disastrously wrong! Fortunately, the story is amusing even at its most stressful moments.
This is my twenty-first book for the 2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Intrepid Reader. Although Mrs. Porter Calling is great fun, I recommend new readers go back to begin with Dear Mrs. Bird, as there are a number of spoilers.

Source: Library


Ethan said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on "Mrs. Porter Calling" and its place within the series. It's great to hear that you found it amusing even in its more stressful moments. Happy reading!

Iliana said...

Oh dear I still haven't read the second book so this one will have to wait a while. I really did enjoy Dear Mrs. Bird. Glad this one didn't disappoint!

Susan@Reading World said...

I loved the first two books. I'll have to read this one!

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

I'm reading this now and enjoying it very much!

Katrina said...

I've just reserved this one and the second book from the library, my reading list gets ever longer! I'm really looking forward to getting them though.