What readers think of Next to Love, plus links to write your own review.

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Next to Love

by Ellen Feldman

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman X
Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2012, 320 pages

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There are currently 42 reader reviews for Next to Love
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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.
Power Reviewer
Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)

Heart Rending and Impossible to Put Down
I began reading "Next to Love" during a 10 hour car ride over 4th of July Weekend and was absolutely mesmerized. Despite the fact I was visiting family, I kept sneaking off to read a few more pages and then felt a bit bereft with I as done - it left me wishing for more.

This book tells the stories of a group of friends, ordinary people damaged by WWII and how each person deals with or fails to deal with their own tragedies and grief. It is about resilience of the human spirit, accepting life on life's terms, having courage to change, or wallowing in resentment. The characters in the book rang true for me. I liked the three central women and felt compassion and empathy for each. That is a sign of a good book!
Mary Lou M. (N Royalton, OH)

Next to Love
An extraordinary book! From page one it carries the reader away to another time, when the whole world stood together to win a war that would end all wars. Heart wrenching at times, wives, mothers & girlfriends waiting & praying on the home front for their soldiers/sailors to return to them. The view into three women's lives during this trying time is eye opening and at times you feel as if you are intruding into their private thoughts, hopes & fears. A beautifully written book, one of the most insightful tales of World War II from the perspective of three very different women. Would highly recommend this book, thank you Ellen Feldman for such a beautiful story!
Lisa F. (Newton, MA)

Wonderful Read
I thought Next to Love was a great read. I love the way it was written in the present tense. I felt like I was watching from afar the three school friends grow up, marry and how each of their lives turn out within the historical context of WWII through the early 1960's. Familiar historical events become very personal and the author drew me in to really care about all the characters. I think it's a great book club book as there is a lot to think and talk about. It makes you think how the war and afterwards affected each character and how each of us believe we would respond to all the different situations and relationships. A good book always stays with me for weeks and this one is having that affect!
Marjorie W. (Bonita Springs, FL)

Next To Love
What a good read! Such a sad time in our history - I think the Ellen Feldman did an excellent job in revealing the feelings of the characters and how they coped with the changes and sorrows brought on by this period of time. It was interesting to me how the children, Amy and Jack, responded. I think this would be a good book for book clubs to put on their reading list. I will recommend it to my book club.
Linda C. (Carlisle, MA)

The Emotional Toll of War
Unlike many WWII books, this story is not focused on the horrors of the battlefield, but rather on the long term emotional toll war exacts at home for generations. It is a very heartfelt journey with three close women friends who fall in love with their soldiers and how these relationships and their lives are forever and completely shaped by the war. We are pulled into their experience from the first page and are riveted to each of their lives for the next 20 years. It gave me tremendous insight into my own mother's life as it was deeply affected by her soldier going off to war.
Ginny (Oregon)

Next to Love
Next to Love is an impressive and powerful story of three best friends and the men they love set during World War II. It focuses on their lives as they live through the war and beyond. I loved watching the women face the challenges and events of their lives as the book moves from saying goodbye to their men and transitioning through the intervening years as their children are about to start their own adult lives. I enjoyed watching them deal with their trials and tribulations and seeing how their lives and friendships evolved. As a baby boomer I loved reading about this time in history.
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 WWI). This quote begins Ellen Feldman’s book about WWII’s effect on the family members and community stateside. A refreshing take from the abundance of WWII era books set in Europe.

Appreciated the author’s choice to write about characters afflicted with mental illness - depression and, what is now called, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and then was labeled Battle Fatigue or Shell Shock. One veteran, Claude, suffered the PTSD symptom of survivor’s guilt, emotional numbing and withdrawal from personal relationships and socializing. He also had flashbacks (manifested by appearing “spaced out”), night terrors and intense reactions to reminders of the war (like the sound of firecrackers). Unfortunately, post-WWII Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was not medically recognized so went untreated. Veterans and their families suffered privately. Current studies reveal that up to a third of veterans who have had combat experience in the Middle East develop PTSD and half of these men and women develop symptoms severe enough to cause significant disruption in their lives.

Disagreed with other critiques that the author introduced too many issues. For example, the subject of discrimination was often only casually mentioned as this shows how insignificant an issue the characters believed it to be – doesn’t affect me so why should I care? Did struggle with the novel’s timeline jumping forward and back thus frequently found myself flipping through the book to ascertain where I was in a particular character’s life and relationship with others.

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