Author(s): Philippa Werry
Fourteen-year-old Beatrice Thomas lives with her widowed mother and younger sister Tilly in a small country town overshadowed by the events of World War One. Many of the local boys, including Beaty's friend Caleb, are away fighting. When Beaty has to leave school, she gets a job as a telegram girl at the Post and Telegraph Office. It's a hard job, especially when she has to deliver news of war casualties. She must convince the telegram boys, and herself, that she's up to the task, at a time when women's roles were limited. Meanwhile, Caleb's letters turn darker as his initial enthusiasm fades and reality takes over. Rumours of peace start to spread, but Beaty continues delivering telegrams through the Armistice, the peace celebrations and the dreadful influenza epidemic. Soon she's running the Post Office almost single-handed. Then Caleb's letters stop arriving.
I felt this story really transported me to the era of World War I and what it was like in New Zealand at that time. The agony of having to wait for the sporadic news delivered by telegrams or searching for loved ones in lists of names of the dead and wounded at the Post Office is so far from todays reality of email and social media that it is hard to comprehend. Beaty is a wonderful character, full of determination and courage. She is made entirely believable by the relationships that are described with her mother and sister and her friends as well as her work colleagues. The letters from her friend Caleb mean that she knows the awful conditions the soldiers are experiencing. She loves her new job delivering telegrams except for the dread of knowing she will often be delivering bad news. A highly recommended and engrossing read.