By Ellen Feldman
Spiegel & Grau
When their men go off to war, Babe, Millie, and Grace, three childhood friends in Massachusetts, live on letters, and in dread of telegrams that can bring only bad news. But as the war drags on, and when peace breaks out, they experience changes that move them in directions they never dreamed possible. The women lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places.
>And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities and uncertainties.
Yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
A story of war, loss, and the scars they leave, "Next To Love" depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.
Ellen Feldman has created a wonderful, heartwarming and moving saga of three women we meet at the beginnings of WWII. Their husbands and soon-to-be husbands will be leaving soon for war, only to leave behind the women they love. This time, it's the stories of those left behind that hold the focus of Next To Love. Feldman shares the stories of Millie, Grace and Babe broken into separate chapters, and while that makes it easy to remember whose story we are reading, this method of storytelling also means that it's often too long before we pick up with the other women's stories.
I enjoyed reading Next To Love, because Feldman brought such likable characters to life. When a husband dies, or returns wounded, you feel their pain and their struggle to comfort and to be comforted. Parts of Feldman's descriptive narrative are so true to life that I felt as though I was eavesdropping.
Next to Love moves through the years easily as she takes the veterans and their families into the post war 1950s and the GI Bill and then into the quickly changing world of the 1960.
I hesitate to share much of the plot as that could ruin the story for you, but I truly enjoyed knowing these people and seeing them tackle the day to day struggles of life for them all after a world war.
I only have minor faults, but they don't really matter. This story reminded me a lot of the award winning film, The Best Years of Their Lives, and while Next To Love spans decades rather than months, it's just as real.
4 out of 5 stars.
This e-galley was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review, it in no way affected my thoughts about this book.