Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Hardcover, 304pp
(Received for review from TLC Tours)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Ellen Feldman on the WEB: website
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
A story of war, love, loss, and the scars they leave, Next to Love follows the lives of three young women and their men during the years of World War II and its aftermath, beginning with the men going off to war and ending a generation later, after the men have finally returned to a nation changed beyond recognition. Beautifully crafted, moving, and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.
Author Ellen Feldman gives a stirring account of three women and the men they loved during and after WWII in her latest novel, Next to Love. This gripping, heart-felt book will give readers a glimpse into the lives of those left behind as their loved ones go off to war. American society was in the throws of change with the Feminist and Civil Rights movements surging to the forefront after the war. Readers will find this one hard to put down, as they follow Babe, Millie and Grace through a generation of love and change.
Babe, Millie and Grace have been friends since childhood, but they are very different women who come from varied backgrounds and experiences. When the United States is thrust into WWII with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the three women and the men they love are forced to part. Grace and Millie marry their boyfriends before they ship out, while Babe follows Claude to the training camp, and goes through a horrible experience before she gets to him. As the war continues Babe and Millie's men give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives, while Claude returns to Babe a changed man. The three woman change and grow as they find love, raise their children in an ever-changing world that seems to have evolved over night.
Next to Love is the compelling story of three women who must face life without the men they love, as WWII rages around them. Author Ellen Feldman gives readers a glimpse into what these woman did while their men were fighting. Their day to day experiences and how they changed and grew during the turbulent period in American history. Not only was their a devastating war going on, but it precipitated changes in every facet of American society. Feldman does a fantastic job of portraying the desperation of the times and the unrest and change that would follow the war.
I thought one of the most interesting parts of the book, dealt with how the Feminist and Civil Rights movements seemed to grow out of the ashes of war. The author does a remarkable job of allowing the reader to see how the changes in society effected women. She uses the day to day lives of three women, from different lifestyles and different backgrounds to showcase how women were treated, what they were thinking and even how advances in technology began to affect them. Feldman uses a presence tense writing style that gives an urgency to the book, that will keep the readers glued to the pages.
Though the book is about all three women, I think Feldman's character Babe, gets most of the spotlight. She is very different from the other two women in the book. Babe comes from the wrong side of the tracks and has had to overcome a lot to get where she is. She approaches life from a totally different perspective than Grace and Millie do. She and Claude eventually marry, but when Claude returns from the war he is practically a different person. At the time they called it "shell shock", today we call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD and Claude was obviously suffering from it. I think that there will be a lot of people who can relate to Claude and Babe's story and the experiences due to the war on terror and returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is a book that I thought a lot about even after I had finished reading it. It struck a cord with me and I think readers will find it compelling and interesting. I liked being able to see the day to day lives of these women and how the war and the aftermath affected them. I think readers will really like the way that Feldman tells Grace, Mille, and Babe's stories. I recommend this one to readers who love historical fiction and stories that revolve around WWII. It's a gripping novel that will keep the readers attention all the way through.
This book will be available July 26th from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag.
Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Lucy are also written by Feldman. She lives in New York City.
The publisher is offering one copy of Next to Love to one winner here at Debbie's Book Bag!
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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 30th.
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