Published May 25th, 2023 by Picador
Historical Fiction, Romance Novel, Historical Romance, Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Book Series
Welcome to my review of Mrs Porter Calling, which is one of our Squadpod Reviews titles for May. Thank you to EdPR Picador for my gifted copy of the book.
A heart-warming, heart-wrenching wartime story from The Sunday Times bestselling author of Dear Mrs Bird, AJ Pearce.
Emmy Lake is the much-loved agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine, relied upon by readers across the country as they face the challenges of life on the Home Front. With the problem page thriving and a team of fantastic women behind her, Emmy finally feels she is Doing Her Bit.
But when a glamorous new owner arrives, everything changes. As the Honourable Mrs Porter tries to charm her way around the rest of the team, Emmy realizes that she plans to destroy everything readers love about the magazine.
With happiness quickly turning to heartbreak and war still raging in Europe, will Emmy and her friends find the inner strength they need to keep keeping on – and save the magazine they love?
‘A winning combination of warmth, humour and a compelling story of the power of friendship.’ – Katie Fforde
“Had she really just eviscerated nearly everything I’d worked on for Woman’s Friend? More importantly, was she dismissing the parts of the magazine that were most obviously for and about the readers.”
It is official. The Emmy Lake Chronicles is my favourite audiobook series. Having listened to Yours Cheerfully in the space of twenty-four hours, I immediately did the same with Mrs Porter Calling, which is the third instalment in this charming series. And now I’m feeling bereft that I have to wait an unknown amount of time before the next one.
It is April 1943 when we return to war-torn London to catch up with Emmy Lake, the much-loved agony aunt at Women’s Friend magazine. Her page is thriving and the staff are all working together well when the new owner, the Honourable Mrs Cressida Porter, assumes control. Fancying herself a creative genius, Mrs Porter has grand plans for the magazine that threaten to destroy the things that the readers, and Emmy, love about it most. Can Emmy and the team band together to save their beloved magazine?
“War’s bad enough as it is. Imagine if you’re trying to get through this alone.”
A.J. Pearce has done it again. Bubbly, bittersweet and bingeable, this is an absolute triumph. A story of friendship, community, love and loss, Pearce transports you into Emmy’s world, making you feel like you’re one of the gang. I went through every emotion alongside them in what is undoubtedly the most emotionally resonant instalment of this series so far. One of the elements I love most is how quintessentially British these books are, and combined with the warmth that radiates from every page they are like picnicking on egg and cress sandwiches, tea and victoria sponge in the park on a warm day.
Every single character in these books is richly drawn. Emmy is one of my favourite heroines ever, and the group of people she surrounds herself with are a delight. The unwavering support they have for each other is friendship goals, and I especially love her relationships with her best friend, Bunty, and brother-in-law-cum-boss, Guy. But it was undoubtedly Mrs Porter who stole the show this time around. God I hated that woman! Rude, snobby, scheming and sly, she made me angrier than any character has in a long time. Watching her plot and try to destroy Women’s Friend was devastating, and I was rooting for Emmy and the team to find a way to beat her at her game. But all of this just goes to showIt is a great example of how skilled Ms. Pearce is as she manages to incite rage in a reader over a fictional character. Even just typing this I’m seething. And I never want to hear the phrase ‘a bit mis’ again! Ugh.
“When you cut through the smokes, and the darlings, and the sugar sweet voice, it was quite clear that the Honourable Mrs Cressida Porter didn’t care about anyone other than herself. She was made of stone all the way through.”
Unfortunately, Mrs. Porter isn’t the only dark cloud on Emmy’s horizon, and we see her and those she loves really put through the mill in this book. Thankfully, there were lots of lighthearted and funny moments to brighten the mood along the way. The combination of Ms. Pearce’s masterful storytelling, her enthralling characters, and the outstanding narration of Anna Popplehouse took these books to another level. I could not stop listening and found that when I had to go run some errands, all I could think about was getting back and listening to the rest of the book. Without a doubt, I will be buying both the physical and audio versions of any future books in this series.
Effervescent, uplifting, heartrending and hopeful, Mrs Porter Calling is a must-have addition to your book or audible shelves this summer. Maybe even take it with you to the park for a picnic.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
AJ Pearce was born in Hampshire, UK. Her favourite subjects at school were English and History, which now (finally) makes sense.
She majored in American History at the University of Sussex, spending her Junior Year at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA.
Her debut novel Dear Mrs Bird was a Sunday Times Bestseller and has been published in the USA, Canada and Australia and in translation in over fifteen languages.
Dear Mrs Bird was shortlisted for the Debut of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards as well as the Royal Society of Literature Sir Christopher Bland Prize and the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown 2019 for the best historical debut. It was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick in the UK, and in the USA was shortlisted in the US Library Reads Favorites of Favorites 2018. In 2022 it was chosen for BBC Radio 4’s Book Club.
AJ has appeared at literary events and festivals across the UK, including Cheltenham, Henley, Ilkley, Chipping Norton, Durham, Guildford, and The British Library.
Her second novel, the sequel Yours Cheerfully, was published in 2021 and was a Times Top 10 hit. Her new novel, Mrs Porter Calling is the third in the Emmy Lake Chronicles series and will be published 25 May 2023 in the UK and 8 August in the USA/Canada.
AJ will be touring the UK around the publication, starting in May. Please go to the Events page for full info and how to book tickets.
When not talking about, researching, or writing books, AJ enjoys being fairly rubbish at a variety of hobbies, and has recently decided to try to learn to paint. Should anyone have alerted members of the Royal Academy of Arts, it is more than likely that no one is holding their breath.
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx
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