Announcing our 2021 Award Winners and Top 20 Books of the Year

The Blitz: Background information when reading The Postmistress

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Postmistress

by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake X
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2010, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2011, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Blitz

This article relates to The Postmistress

Print Review

Following Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. After Poland and France surrendered, German intelligence sources believed that the British, too, were close to capitulation after their retreat from Dunkirk in battle between the Allies and Germany, and that a strategy similar to the heavy shelling and bombing used against Poland would likewise lead to a quick victory. The first attacks by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) in the summer of 1940 focused on destroying the British Royal Airforce (RAF) by bombing airfields and RAF factories.

On August 25 1940, Luftwaffe bombers drifted off course from their military targets on the outskirts of London, and dropped bombs in the center of the city (an accident, according to many contemporary accounts). Churchill saw this as a deliberate attack on civilians, and ordered the bombing of Berlin the following night as a reprisal. In retaliation, Hitler ordered a "blitzkreig" (literally lightning war) against the population and air defenses of major British cities. London took the brunt of the bombing - starting on September 7, an average of 200 bombers dropped 300 tons of bombs on the city night after night for 76 days.

The British had long expected an attack, and beginning in 1939 the government assisted its citizens in constructing "Anderson Shelters" in their backyards, made from corrugated steel panels and accommodating up to six people. The shelters were 6' high by 4.5' wide by 6.5' long, buried at least 4' underground and covered with at least 15" of topsoil above the roof. The structures became objects of civic pride, and contests were held for best-planted shelters. 3.6 million were erected during the war, and many still survive. The fact that their walls and ceilings flexed enabled them to withstand the bombing while rigid concrete shelters cracked and collapsed. Those unable to create shelters, particularly those in London, took shelter in warehouse basements and Underground stations and tunnels. Many chose to remain above ground during the attacks, manning anti-aircraft guns, ambulances and fire trucks.

Although London was the most heavily bombed, other cities were targeted starting in November 1940. Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham, Norwich, Ipswich, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Belfast were assailed. The worst attack came on November 14 against Coventry, an industrial city east of Birmingham in central England. 449 Luftwaffe bombers dropped 1,400 bombs and over 100,000 incendiaries throughout the night, destroying over 50,000 buildings and killing 568 people.

The bombing of Britain continued through 1941, when Hitler was forced to turn his attention to the Eastern Front, but not before causing the deaths of over 40,000 British citizens and destroying more than a million houses in London alone, leaving 375,000 Londoners homeless. The Blitz was, however, considered a major defeat for Germany and one of the crucial turning points in World War II, as the bombing failed to achieve Hitler's goal of demoralizing Britain into surrender and, while the bombers turned their attention on civilians, the pressure was taken off the RAF's airfields.

Filed under People, Eras & Events

Article by Kim Kovacs

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Postmistress. It originally ran in March 2010 and has been updated for the February 2011 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: The Lincoln Highway
    The Lincoln Highway
    by Amor Towles
    Voted 2021 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Things look bleak for Emmett ...
  • Book Jacket: The Code Breaker
    The Code Breaker
    by Walter Isaacson
    Voted 2021 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What makes humans human? It's ...
  • Book Jacket: Firekeeper's Daughter
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Million Things
    by Emily Spurr
    Voted 2021 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Our First Impressions reviewers were...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    True Crime Story
    by Joseph Knox

    The #1 international bestselling novel. What happens to all the girls who go missing?

Win This Book!
Win Taste Makers

Taste Makers
by Mayukh Sen

America's modern culinary history told through the lives of seven pathbreaking chefs and food writers.

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.