Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)
Next to Love is Well Worth Reading
If you like interesting, believable characters and a good story interwoven with its historical background, you will enjoy Next to Love. Reading about the female perspective on World War II and the time after the soldiers returned from war was quite intriguing. I look forward to reading more of this author's writing in the future.
Darlene C. (Woodstock, il)
A Provocative Read
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. The author took care to develop the characters so they were 3 dimensional and believable. Told in a style similar to The Help, Ellen Feldman tells the story of 3 women whose husbands served in World War II. Following their lives before, during and after the war, the author weaves an intriguing tale of cultural expectations, personal growth and enduring friendship. No platitudes about war in this book or its effects on those at home as well as those who fought. I particularly enjoyed the author’s treatment of not only the main characters and how the war affected them but the greater challenge to the American way of life following the war. A great beach read but one that you will find yourself thinking about long after you’ve finished the book. I would highly recommend this for book clubs - it will stimulate great discussion. I would love to hear book clubs discuss the ending – was it purposeful or did the author just not know how to end the book? Not an easy question to answer.
Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
OMG!!!!! What a wonderful book!
I loved, loved this book. It hit me personally because my dad served in WWII, both Europe and Phillipines and my mom was a "camp follower" before he was deployed and became pregnant with her first (my brother). When he returned he was a broken man in many ways and was never able to talk about it.. I believe this book helped me understand what he was going through and even though he is now deceased, I feel I know him better!
A great read and I will definitely read it again with my book group!!!!!!
Mij W. (Bainbridge Island, WA)
Historical Fiction About WWII, Three Women & Their Husbands
In Next to Love, I escaped back to WWII and saw life through the eyes of three women and their husbands, all affected by the war. As I followed their stories, I often found myself thinking of my mother and my aunts, picturing their lives as young women, starting out in life, and then with families, through the years, seeing what was expected of them as wives and mothers.
The brutality and tragedy of the war was vividly brought out, and how each of the three women responded to events affecting their husbands and their own lives. I liked how some of these effects were spread out over a span of years, which is the way life is sometimes. Sometimes in life, an event will happen that jars. It can take years for a resolution, for healing.
History buffs will find this book very satisfying.
Throughout the book, it felt like there was a narrator standing in the background, telling the story. This worked for me sometimes, but at other times, no. Sometimes I wondered whose voice it was--the narrator’s, or the character that was being portrayed in a particular chapter.
The other thing about the narrator’s words--it felt like “telling” instead of showing. I was being instructed about some idea about WWII or other things. When I read a novel, I do not like to be “told” something. I prefer to “see” it in a picture of words painted by the author. I realize this is not always possible, that some telling has to be there. But here, I thought it was too often, too much.
Finally, what I really wanted more of, but which would have required a novel of many more pages, was more knowledge of the three women’s characters, more of their personal stories, or whatever ways authors use to “develop” their characters. Although each of the stories in the novel were interesting to read, I never felt like I really knew them intimately, never truly got inside their shoes.
Laura L. (Providence, RI)
Gives you an understanding of an era
I was hooked on this story from the beginning. This is a story of four couples and how world war two changes their day to day lives. The subject of women's identity and how the war changed their roles in society was examined by the narrative. The story brings home the issues of the veterns today and what this generation is going to face. The book touches on the children of the war vets and how they have a different perspective of the war . I like to read books that give me insight into our history. The subject appeared to be well researched.
The one issue I had with the book is that the characters could be developed more and sometimes I had trouble trying to figure out which character was narrating. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.
Jen W. (Denver, CO)
A book that you won't want to leave
Next To Love is a terrifically engaging and provocative book. The characters are so well drawn that one can't but help to be engrossed in their lives. Ellen Feldman has a knack for creating vivid characters that stay with you, still speaking to you long after you close the book. Watch out, you might find yourself opening the book and needing to hunker down and read it straight through. Feldman gives us a portrait of war that is unique and original, but resonates with anyone who reads the novel. This is a book worthy of the best book club discussions and one that is worthy of rereading so that the nuances of her language can be uncovered.
Erin S. (Springville, UT)
Next to Love is an ambitious novel that suffered from trying to fit too much story into too short of a book. Three very different women face challenges that should have created a real emotional impact given the subject matter. However, I never felt connected to any of the characters. Trying to tell their stories over so many years left less room for the development of their characters. The pacing and cohesion of the book always felt off. There were some moments of great writing and times when I did want to see what would happen next. I do think there was a lot of potential. Overall it was a book that I do not regret reading, but not one that I will remember for long.