War Brides: Personal book review
War Brides: By Helen Bryan
I have just finished reading this book so I'm delighted to review it and recommend it to you.
The premise of the book is relatively simple as it follows the lives of five young women throughout the Second World War.
Intrigue, passions and wartime life
Many of us who were born in ten years or so after the end of the war grew up hearing about it. We were accustomed to seeing photographs of men in uniform on utility-issue sideboards.
Thus, those war years hold a fascination. The author is the same. For some of us, the five young women are the same age in the book as our mothers were during the war.
For younger readers too
That doesn't mean that the book is in any way 'nostalgia' - it was recommended to me by an eighteen year old who loved it and knowing that I am from England, where the book is largely set, she was sure I would enjoy it as much as she did. She was so right.
The five women
They were all, due to various circumstances, living in a small English village by 1940. They were:
- A teenage Jewish girl from Austria. She had fled from the Nazis, understanding that that her family would soon be following her. By the time she arrives in the village she is married and expecting a baby
- A London debutante. She is a lively girls who, to her father's distress, spends her time enjoying life. When she is shown in the newspapers after a particularly fun party, she is sent to her godmother's home in the country
- A 'southern belle' from New Orleans. She has escaped from her family due to her guilty secret. She arrives at the village as a young bride, much to her new mother-in-law's horror
- A cockney girl from a large London family. The rest of family have been evacuated to various places in England to escape London's bombings. At fifteen, she works as a housemaid in a grand house
- A local girl. She is the daughter of the late vicar and is reserved, quiet - and broken-hearted. It is her ex-fiance who has married the girl from New Orleans...
Despite their very different backgrounds, a friendship forms between the five girls, trapped as they are in the quiet country village. And yet there is more going on in the little hamlet than it first appears.
A mystery and revenge
The story is a mixture of down to earth village life and enormous intrigue.
What is fascinating is that the women, when they are elderly ladies, have a reunion in the village. But this is not just an ordinary meeting.
One of the women isn't at the reunion. What happened to her?
One of the women has worked hard on this problem,researching. What had happened to their friend? They were all so close in their younger days during the Second World War. The missing woman though hadn't been in touch.
Was she still alive?
Together, the elderly ladies pieced together the horrifying truth.
Then, they were determined to seek revenge.
What was everyday life like in the Second World War?
As I sit here at the computer, the cellphone and tablet by my side, it seems to me that those days were so long ago.
And yet my parents lived through the war and the events are within living memory.
My mum used to talk about the privations of the war and especially the lack of food. Yet the diet was so much healthier than ours today.
My fridge is full of fresh vegetables. There are plenty of frozen goods in my freezer. The store cupboard contains lots of dried and canned goods. I see a full fruit bowl and bottles of wine in the rack. Grocery stores are full and I can buy anything I want. See how people cooked and ate during the war - it was like another world, one we find it hard to imagine.
Rationing during the Second World War
This is just one aspect of everyday life in the war that is so unimaginable to us today.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson