From the time I was a young girl, I loved reading advice columns. I savored Dear Abby and Dear Ann Landers as though my life depended on it. I couldn’t get enough. I’m not sure why people like me think a woman I don’t even know would be of any help to someone like me, but they were great successes. Dear Mrs. Bird, by A.J. Pearce, featured a World War II advice columnist.
Emmeline Lake wasn’t too excited when she applied for a job at a London newspaper during World War II for what she thought would be a assistant reporter position, but turned out to be the assistant to the advice columnist. The worst thing was that the advice columnist — Mrs. Bird — would only answer questions that held no Unpleasantness, Her definition of Unpleasantness was broad: anything involving sex, boyfriends, girlfriends, general ladies’ problems, religion, etc.. Those she did answer, she responded with unkindness and lack of empathy.
Before long, it got to be too much for Emmeline, and she began secretly answering the desperate readers’ questions and signing Mrs. Bird’s name. Before long, a few began appearing in the magazine, and Emmeline got busted.
I was excited to read the book because I felt the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the characters were anything BUT interesting. I thought the book read like a poorly-written teenaged novel, and though I finished the novel, I couldn’t have cared less by the end.
The most annoying part of the book was the author’s habit of using capital letters to express any number of emotions. I’m serious when I say that there were probably three or four instances of this habit on nearly every page. After the first 10 pages, the capital-letters-for-emphasis became ANNOYING.
I’m afraid I can’t recommend this book even for a teenager.