cover image Mrs. Porter Calling

Mrs. Porter Calling

AJ Pearce. Scribner, $28 (328p) ISBN 978-1-66800-771-6

An advice columnist for a London women’s magazine tries to keep her job and readership when a new publisher takes over in Pearce’s immersive latest in the Emmy Lake Chronicles (after Yours Cheerfully). In 1943 London, Emmy’s husband is at war overseas while she remains in England, working at a fire station and writing a column for Woman’s Friend. She and her friend and roommate Bunty, whose fiancé has died in combat, invite another friend to move into their house to pool their resources. After the magazine’s publisher dies, his niece, an out-of-touch aristocrat named Cressida Porter, inherits the business. To appeal to England’s upper crust, she cuts back on the advice column and adds sections about society weddings, much to the disappointment of readers who relied on Emmy’s guidance for their wartime survival and well-being. As the magazine flounders, the housemates face a personal tragedy. Pearce enhances the well-trodden material with lively characters, showing how they find joy in simple pleasures and humor in the face of loss. Series fans won’t be disappointed. (Aug.)