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War Brides: Personal book review

Updated on June 10, 2015
War Brides
War Brides | Source

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?

Grandma's Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked
Grandma's Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked

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.

 
Two Hundred and Seventy-Five War-Time Recipes (Classic Reprint)
Two Hundred and Seventy-Five War-Time Recipes (Classic Reprint)

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

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    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @susan369: I certainly do! Amazon is terrible for that. Thanks for the tip - I've added it to my list.

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      susan369 3 years ago

      I've read this book quite recently. If you liked this one, you'll probably like Days of Grace by Catherine Hall. It's about the evacuation. I think that book was more memorable for me, but I quite enjoyed reading this one too. Great review, you didn't give away too much to ruin the plot for others. (Don't you just hate when they do that?!)

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sousababy: In the foreword of the book, the author describes a time when an American friend was visiting her in London (presumably quite some time ago). He visited various places - places such as museums which taught him a lot about the Second World War. He said afterwards that he wanted to shake the hands of every British person over a certain age - those who lived through the war - he was so impressed by what they'd tolerated.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      I should be more informed about this period in history. Our elders have lived through some very tough times and it's enlightening to read their stories. Also, these stories help me to appreciate the present. Thank you for introducing me to another fascinating book.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Scarlettohairy: It's a fascinating period, isn't it? I'm sure you'd love this book.

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      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This book sounds really good. I've been reading books and watching shows about this era a lot lately.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Brite-Ideas: It's fabulous.I thought at first that it might be a bit 'girlie' but it isn't and the end is just brilliant.

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      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      a friend of our family lived in London during the time of the London bombings during WWII; her accounts are fascinating - I wouldn't be surprised if she's read this one as well. Thanks for the review, sounds really good.