Set in a small town in Massachusetts, Next to Love follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible - while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America - from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities - and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.
Published in hardcover in July 2011.
Some of the recent comments posted about Next to Love. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Ellen Feldman answers questions about Next To Love
Malindin, I'm so glad you felt so close to Millie. I agree that she wasn't a bad mother at all. She just made some unfortunate choices, which, given the times, made sense. I saw her as a fierce survivor. She had known tragedy as a small child... - EllenFeldman
Is Millie callous or a fierce survivor?
Millie was a survivor. All these women were pretty tough; they had to be. They dealt with the realities of life and got on with it how ever they had to. - bettyt
Overall, what did you think of "Next To Love"?
I started out not liking the book too much but ended up ready to recommend it o friends. I particularly liked the way she placed the lives of the characters in the historical setting. Having a relative who faced similar demons after Kore as Claude... - Peggy H
What thoughts did the ending of NEXT TO LOVE invoke?
I think Claude and Babe epitomize what the world is like - brief moments of peace interspersed with periods of war. Claus 's "imagine" seems to voice a hope for the dream and for their future together. - pschulze
Feldman's portrait of an era, and its women, is both well drawn and frustrating.
Starred Review. At turns brave, frustrating, and fragile, Feldman's characters live and love with breathtaking intensity, and her deft juggling of several zigzagging plots makes the pages flow past with the force of a slow but mighty river.
Starred Review. A lustrous evocation of a stormy period in our past; highly recommended for lovers of World War II fiction.
Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland Next to Love is a beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking story about love and war and what comes after. A breakthrough work by a writer who has already established herself as one of our best historical novelists.
Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life
A powerful, haunting, deeply ambitious novel about love and war, impeccably executed, impossible to put down.
Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Next to Love is a remarkable novel driven by the powerful engine of most great literature: the yearning for a self. These three deeply, compassionately evoked women seek their own individual identities as the world and the people they love undergo profound change. But they have each other and they have their capacity to love, and Ellen Feldman brilliantly shows us how those things prevail.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Gigi a good read Brought back memories of that time, ie. asking husband if wife wants a job, husband saying no wife of mine will ever work outside the home. However, I didn't like the technique of taking each character by date and using it as a chapter in the book. Read More
Rated of 5
by Kat Disappointed I was so looking forward to receiving this book but it didn't deliver on it's promise. As Claude might have put it - it did not live up to it's potential. I felt I was reading book jacket description of any one of the character's lives. Each... Read More
Rated of 5
by Denise B-K “War…next to love, has most captured the world’s imagination” Received this book as an advance copy from Random House
“War…next to love, has most captured the world’s imagination” – Eric Partridge, 1914 (believe he is a famous lexicographer and author who served in the Australian Imperial Force during... Read More
Rated of 5
by Molly I'd like to read more by Feldman Next to Love is well-written, which makes the potentially maudlin subjects presented here interesting and thought provoking. With Feldman's clean, spare writing, the reader is allowed to think independently. Her writing is varied and interesting,... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Not quite finished The home front during World War II and into the 1950’s has always interested me, but with this novel I think Ellen Feldman takes on too much and doesn’t fulfill her ambitions. She wants the reader to become involved in the lives of the three... Read More
Rated of 5
by Louise J Great World War II Story The book begins in 1944 and ends in 1964. It tells the tale of three best friends: Babe, Grace, and Millie and how they cope with their trials and tribulations and the husbands they love.
It is a deeply moving story about war, friendships, and... Read More
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