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on 2 September 2013
This is a social history of what has seemed to be a forgotten part of WW2 history - the young (in most cases) and unsophisticated girls from dreary war torn Great Britain who met and fell in love with that most glamorous of creatures - a Yank.

This book takes the story of 4 young women and follows them through courtship, marriage, motherhood and beyond, all trying to cope with life in a new country with husbands they hardly knew and who in fact, were completely different back in civilian life.

It's written in a colloquial style which will be familiar to readers of the authors' other book The Sugar Girls so it is easy to read and zips along at pace.

All in all a good summer read and one that might induce you to find out more about these brave women - some of whom still meet up in clubs for War Brides all over the USA
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on 9 September 2013
As I was blown away by the writers' first book 'The Sugar Girls' I knew that 'G.I Brides' would be on the same level. And I was not wrong. The stories of the four women are not only heartwarming, but engrossing. It shows two sides of a love story, and the problems that lay ahead for the British brides as they crossed the Altantic for the men they fell in love with. By the end I felt like I knew the women individually, due to the books compelling portrait of them. An excellent read, and highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a true wartime story.
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on 11 May 2014
Another book club book – this one chosen by my own mother. GI Brides was chosen as a Biography, she didn’t want us to read about a celebrity and so looked for a book about some ordinary people.

GI Brides tells the story of four girls who met and married American GI’s during World War II and details their lives and journeys to the US and how they were able to adapt to living over there and how they were accepted into the various communities and families.

Before starting this book I was expecting some happy stories about how they met the loves of their lives and how wonderful everything was – naive I know, but that was what I expected. What I read was very different. Out of the four girls only one of them ended up with a happy marriage with their GI. The others ended up with a womaniser, a drunk who beat his wife and a gambler.

It was interesting to see how these men seemed like completely different people while they were in the UK and how they reverted back to their true characters once they were back on home soil. These girls did not have an easy time of it. There were issues with their in-laws and being accepted into the family, being separated from their own families and being in a strange land with different customs.

They had to fight for everything they had and sometimes were pushed to the limit before admitting that they had to make a change to improve their relationships/lives. For me, I think being separated from my family would have been the biggest strain. This was at a time where you couldn’t just pick up the phone and call if you felt homesick, no Skype and travel between the US and the UK wasn’t easy or cheap. These girls left everything behind to follow their husbands and it was a shame that, for these four girls, it wasn’t the fairytale they were looking for.

It’s worth noting that out of the tens of thousands of young girls these 4 stories seem to be the exception. It was noted at the end of the book that they had a very low divorce rate compared with other couples and the majority were very happy. I’m not sure if I could have done what they did and stuck with it for as long as they did. It was a very fascinating insight into what went on during a very difficult time for both countries.
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on 27 May 2014
During WWII when American GIs arrived in Britain, young English girls were happy to find that they had more dates that they could wish for. The American GIs had charm, charisma, and gentlemanly behavior that even some girls, who disliked them at first, eventually were won over. In fact when VE Day came, there were 70,000 women who became GI brides. GI Brides tells the story of four young brides who left behind their parents and homeland, to cross the Atlantic for love.

The novel chronicles the lives of Sylvia, Margaret, Rae, and Gwendolyn. The chapters switch back and forth from person to person. The beginning tells of their courtship with an American GI. These GIs not only won the hearts of these girls, but also their families. They seemed like their ideal dream guy that these girls were instantly infatuated and were in total bliss. When the GIs proposed to them, they accepted them. They were willing to make sacrifices to be with them because they loved them. But crossing the Atlantic was only part of the story. One of them actually found happiness in her husband. The other three found that there husbands were not whom they thought they were. These three husbands who seemed to be perfect gentlemen turned out to have a dark side to them.

I found that each of the four women were very strong and admirable. They were like any young girl who looked for love and hoped for a happy marriage. Yet when they went to the U.S. to be with their husbands, they found that they would have to adapt to a new culture, and to their new husbands. They struggled and coped with their marriages. During their trials, they struggled to find their happiness and eventually they found it.

Overall, this novel is about family, love, sacrifices, choices, and hope. The message of the book is that even though you are going through tough trials, you will eventually come out of it and find happiness. This book is an interesting look WWII war brides. Margaret is Nuala Calvi’s grandmother so it is a personal and emotional account. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII memoirs. GI Brides is a thought-provoking novel that tells us true and compelling personal accounts of these four women. Even though this novel shows us the cost of the choices these women made to be with their husbands they barely knew, it reminds us that where there is darkness, there is hope and light.
(Note: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.)
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on 10 September 2013
This is a very readable book from these two authors and tells the stories of several girls living in the London and Southampton area who met married American servicemen stationed in England during the Second World War. It's a romantic story we are all familiar with but of course the reality is different and the course of true love does not always run smoothly. It is fascinating to hear the voices of the women describing their lives with all the ups and downs they experienced when they first arrived in the US as GI brides and later in life. A story well worth telling.
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on 13 September 2013
Having enjoyed their previous book, The Sugar Girls, I knew I would like this book. I like the way it is told through the experiences of four women who all had such different experiences. A really easy read and a great introduction to the subject.
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on 13 September 2013
I enjoyed the whole book I could not put it down to me all the detail was good and enjoyable
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This book concentrates on four young English women; Gwendolyn, Rae, Margaret and Sylvia, just four amongst the thousands that left Britain at the end of World War II to follow their new husbands home to the United States. The authors have carried out many many interviews and have put together a wonderfully informative, entertaining and poignant look at what life was really like for these women. Duncan Barrett's co-author; Nuala Calvi is the granddaughter of Margaret, which just makes her particular story even more compelling.

Life in the United States wasn't easy for any of the four women. They were all young, fairly inexperienced and found themselves in 'the land of plenty' after living through the tough war years, on meagre rations, dodging the bombs and generally living life from day to day. Arriving in American after what was often a horrendous journey across the ocean was not always the beginning of a dream life for them, in fact it is fair to say that a couple of these brave women actually found themselves in a living nightmare for a time.

Racial inequality, language differences, hostile parents in law, gambling, alcoholism, pregnancies, the weather, personal illness .. the list goes on and on. Despite the almost never-ending problems and some extremely challenging times, these women pulled themselves through it all and made lives for themselves that were fulfilling and productive.

This is not all 'happy ever after', this is real life, real women and real hardship. What it is though is a uplifting book filled with stories that show the strength of these four incredible women. It is essential that stories like these are recorded as sadly it won't be long until there are no living memories still with us.

I enjoyed every page of this touching book, it is well-written with warmth and at times, humour.
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on 8 October 2013
I must admit in the past I've always looked at the topic of GI Brides to be one of romantic notion, but boy this book really gets to the truth. It seems it wasn't all wine and roses for these girls who left their homes and loved ones to travel across the sea to be with their men. The way of life in the USA wasn't what they had immagined. It was hard slog fitting in with the families of the GI's and the way of life and communities around them. It wouldn't be fair to go into too much detail about the book and its stories from the different women, but if you want a real good read about true life for these girls then this is the book for you.
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on 11 September 2013
What a great book, true story's of British woman following there husbands to USA after ww2 , highly recommended to readers who enjoy war time stories
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