Review: Mrs Porter Calling by AJ Pearce (2023)


The heartwarming, moving and uplifting new story of friendship, love and finding courage when all seems lost from AJ Pearce.

London, April 1943.

Emmy Lake is an agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine, doing all she can to help readers as they face the challenges of wartime life. With her column thriving and a team of women behind her, Emmy finally feels she is Doing Her Bit.

But when the glamourous new owner arrives, everything changes. Charming her way around editor Guy Collins, Emmy quickly realises the Honourable Mrs Cressida Porter plans to destroy everything readers love about the magazine.

With her best friends by her side, Emmy must work out how she can bring everyone together and save Woman’s Friend before it’s too late.


Many thanks to the publisher and to the Squadpod for my advance copy of the book.

I loved the first two books in AJ Pearce’s Emmy Lake series, Dear Mrs Bird and Yours Cheerfully, so I was properly excited to catch up with the characters in this next instalment. Pearce captures the spirit of wartime London so beautifully, with humour and pathos and everything in between. The magazine setting is ripe for all sorts of shenanigans and wrangling, and when a new owner takes over, it’s only a matter of time before Emmy must come to the rescue once more. There are some wonderful new characters to love – and hate – as well as recurring appearances from series regulars.

What these books do so well is weave together humorous plotlines with incredibly moving ones – I can’t say too much for fear of spoilers, but alongside the ridiculous whims of Mrs Porter (and a star turn by her dog, Winston), there are moments that had me welling up, and some really poignant observations by Emmy, who is growing as a character with every book. What’s particularly interesting here is that we see her facing challenges she has absolutely no experience of, and admitting that she doesn’t always know what to do for the best. There’s a vulnerability to her that feels more defined than in the previous books, and it made me warm to her even more.

The consistency of the style is admirable – the language feels not only era-appropriate, but also reflective of internal and external attitudes of the characters. It’s very clever, because there is a remove between even the most beloved characters’ sensibilities and our own, but we can fully buy into their attitudes because of the exceptional times they are living through and the author’s absolute commitment to the era. There’s something cinematic about these books; they’re such beautifully crafted, immersive period pieces, and it’s always a pleasure to spend time in this world.

There is definite potential for more Emmy Lake Chronicles to come (the ending is satisfying, but open for more) and I, for one, can’t wait. This is proper escapist, immersive fiction – funny and heart-warming and oddly healing; if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Emmy yet, treat yourself to all three – they’ll make perfect summer reading.

Mrs Porter Calling by AJ Pearce is published by Picador and is available to purchase here.


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