Rated of 5
by Kathy D. (Cedar Rapids, IA) Next To Love
Ellen Feldman, in Next to Love brings to life the time period during and shortly after World War II. Couples quickly married before the young men went off to war. Some of the husbands returned and others did not. I could feel the anxiety experienced by the three young women at the center of this book. It was interesting to observe how each one coped with difficulties and heartbreak in such different ways. I was disappointed how some relationships developed -or failed to develop, toward the end of the book. Perhaps a sequel is coming. I was a young girl during this time of history and the book is excellent describing what life was like on the home front for the wives, parents, and children of the soldiers. Women who had jobs during the war gave them up to soldiers when they returned. Prejudice against African Americans and Jews is also emphasized. This book offers provocative material for discussing life then as compared with life today. I recommend Next to Love and I think it is a great book for book club discussions.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Deborah C. (Orlando, Fla) Next To Love
Really got hooked in the beginning; held my attention through the middle, but a tiny let down at the end. Would recommend for the character intricacies and especially for the female leads.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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!!!!!!
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