Monday, 28 November 2011

Book Review: Next to Love

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (7 Oct 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0330544500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330544504

Babe, Grace and Millie have been best friends since their first day at their small town’s only kindergarten. Despite their differences, they’ve played together, grown up together, shared each other’s secrets. And when World War Two becomes a reality for America too, the girls begin a new phase of their lives together – each quickly marries her first true love. With the men away, life is difficult for these newly married women, but when no fewer than sixteen telegrams arrive on a single morning in 1944, bearing news of the worst kind from the War Department, the girls know that nothing will ever be the same again . . .
As each woman struggles to rebuild a life, they face not only the challenges closest to home – the brutal effects of war, the question of remarriage, of how to tell a child about their absent father – but also the wider issues of a country in flux – sexism, racism, anti-Semitism. Tinged with tragedy, yet filled with hope, Next to Love is the story of three women at the heart of the century – a celebration of their friendship across decades of the most unthinkable adversity. It is a remarkable novel you are unlikely to forget.

Next to Love is the most gut-wrenching, romantic, devastating and best book I have read this year. Bar none.

The novel centres around three friends – Babe, Millie and Grace as their husbands and boyfriends get pulled into the second World War. What I loved about this book was it showed in raw detail what it was like to be the ones left behind and how home could be just as wrecking as the home front.

The author didn’t hold back on a single thing and the stark honesty was like a powerful fist with each new development. The story spans decades, beginning as their men leave and the women have to get jobs and raise the children alone, leading up till the children are almost adults themselves.

There is so much I could say about this book, and if I’m honest this review is startlingly hard to write. As with any wartime book, a sense of loss is expected. But the author managed to completely destroy me while I read the words. The characters became so real the loss felt personal, like I was reading about friends, not fiction.

All I can do is urge everyone to read this book. Read it and love it. I guarantee it will stay with you for days once you finish. 


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