1. Much of The Postmistress
is centered on Frankie's radio broadcasts—either Frankie broadcasting them or the other characters listening to them. How do you think the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 1940s differs from our experience of getting news from the television or the Internet? What is the difference between hearing news and seeing pictures, or reading accounts of news? Do you think there is something that the human voice conveys that the printed word cannot?
2. "Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress
make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out?
3. When Thomas is killed, Frankie imagines his parents sitting miles away, not knowing what has happened to their son and realizes there is no way for her to tell them. Today it is rare that news can't be delivered. In this age of news 24/7, are we better off?
4. Seek Truth. Report it. Minimize Harm.
That is the journalist's code. And it haunts Frankie during the book. Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For someone whose job was to deliver the news, did she fail?
5. If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? Was she wrong not to deliver it? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time Emma didn't know the news? What was taken from Emma in not knowing immediately what happened?
6. In the funk hole, Will says that "everything adds up," but Frankie disagrees, saying that life is a series of "random, incomprehensible accidents." Which philosophy do you believe? Which theory does The Postmistress
make a better case for?
7. After Thomas tells his story of escape, the old woman in the train compartment says, "There was God looking out for you at every turn." Thomas disagrees. "People looked out. Not God." He adds, "There is no God. Only us." How does The Postmistress
raise the questions of faith in wartime? How does this connect to the decisions Iris and Frankie make with regard to Emma?
8. Why do you think Maggie's death compels Will to leave for England?
9. The novel deals with the last summer of innocence for the United States before it was drawn into WWII and before the United States was attacked. Do you see any modern-day parallels? And if so, what?
10. What are the pleasures and drawbacks of historical novels? Is there a case to be made that The Postmistress
is not about the 1940s so much as it uses the comfortable distance of that time and place in order to ask questions about war? About accident? Aren't all novels historical? Why or why not? More discussion questions