Post for Mrs. Bromley
A gripping, cinematic story set during WWI
The first part of Stefan Brijs’ new novel, Post voor mevrouw Bromley (Post for Mrs. Bromley), is set in North London during the early years of the First World War. Student John Patterson refuses to yield to increasing pressure of advocates and patriots – and girls – to voluntarily join the army, as his best friend Martin Bromley, with whom he grew up, has done.
As a postman, John’s father regularly brings sad news, but he can’t give Mrs. Bromley the letter about Martin’s death. In the second part of the novel, John joins the army after all. And, as the lieutenant’s aide in Northern France, he himself can manipulate the mail. He discovers that Martin didn’t die a hero, as the letter claimed, but that he was executed by his superiors. Shall he let Mrs. Bromley know, he wonders, before he’ll be deployed in an offensive in which he might die? Post voor mevrouw Bromley is a novel about lies, illusions and make-believe. In an excellently documented portrait of an era, Stefan Brijs exposes the gulf between the excitement about the war and the appalling reality of it, depicted in strong dramatic scenes in which courage and cowardice appear to be relative.
Brijs appeals particularly with convincing characters and a clever, carefully crafted plot in which various story elements have a surprising function and meaning. John studies English Literature and lives in a rarefied literary environment that contrasts sharply with the barbarism of the war. For a soldier who writes to his love and who will die soon, he quotes lines from love letters by John Keats, but he himself fails to express his unspoken love for the daughter of Mrs. Bromley – one of the threads that runs through the story - in time. Post voor mevrouw Bromley draws the reader into a gripping, cinematic story with exciting twists that last until the very last page.