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Next to Love [Paperback]

Ellen Feldman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Oct 2011
Babe, Grace and Millie have been best friends since their first day at their small town’s only kindergarten. Despite their differences, they’ve played together, grown up together, shared each other’s secrets. And when World War Two becomes a reality for America too, the girls begin a new phase of their lives together – each quickly marries her first true love. With the men away, life is difficult for these newly married women, but when no fewer than sixteen telegrams arrive on a single morning in 1944, bearing news of the worst kind from the War Department, the girls know that nothing will ever be the same again . . . As each woman struggles to rebuild a life, they face not only the challenges closest to home – the brutal effects of war, the question of remarriage, of how to tell a child about their absent father – but also the wider issues of a country in flux – sexism, racism, anti-Semitism. Tinged with tragedy, yet filled with hope, Next to Love is the story of three women at the heart of the century – a celebration of their friendship across decades of the most unthinkable adversity. It is a remarkable novel you are unlikely to forget.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (7 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330544500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330544504
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 459,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`Feldman's writing is accessible, poignant and polished. She also sensitively tackles some contemporary issues as we follow these three women, including racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, as well as the brutal effects of a War on a generation of women as well as their families.' --Bookbag

'Three women, friends from childhood, wave their husbands off to war. Left behind, they must find ways to live through the subsequent tragic and turbulent years as they, their children and their country change. Remarkable and haunting.'
--Woman & Home

`The novel offers a heartbreaking triptych of people scrambling to cope with life.' --Sunday Telegraph

`This is a highly engaging tale of human endurance mingled with human fragility, and most importantly, the strength and courage derived from female friendship in the face of tragedy.' --Image magazine

'A moving saga of love and loss in the aftermath of war.' --Choice

`Beautifully written in rather poetic language, while being populated with complex, very real characters.' --Press Association

'The Second World War has drastically altered the lives of Babe, Grace and Millie. Each has married her first true love then watched them leave to fight. When 16 telegrams arrive at once they know that the heady and care-free days of post-war America will never return.'
--Daily Express

`Intelligent, elegant and...moving' --Guardian

`Feldman writes beautifully about the women's progress from the darkest of times towards new lives. The small town is depicted as being claustrophobic but even it is not immune to the changing winds that the Civil Rights Movement, the sexual revolution and the coming Vietnam War will bring and the women deal with these changes in different ways. Her characters are vivid and believable - their lives at the same time small and hugely meaningful. I thoroughly enjoyed this book that says so much about changing times in such an understated way and throws light on those who stayed behind from war, but were no less heroic.' --Bookgeeks.co.uk

`As each woman struggles to rebuild a life, they face not only the challenges closest to home - the brutal effects of war, the question of remarriage, of how to tell a child about their absent father - but also the wider issues of a country in flux - sexism, racism, anti-Semitism. Tinged with tragedy, yet filled with hope, Next to Love is the story of three women at the heart of the century - a celebration of their friendship across decades of the most unthinkable adversity. It is a remarkable novel you are unlikely to forget.' --Artswrap.co.uk

`Feldman's tenderly told story' --Independent

About the Author

Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank and most recently Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"Next to Love," is a new release, a historical novel set in Massachusetts during World War II, the early 1940s, and for 20 years thereafter, from Ellen Feldman. Her last published historical novel, Scottsboro: A Novel, dealing with the famous racially charged Southern case of the 1930s, was, upon its hardcover publication in 2008, named one of the five best novels of the year by the "Richmond Times-Dispatch," and long listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009. The author has previously also published the novels Lucy: A President, a Marriage, a Love Affair and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank: A Novel.

Three women, Babe, Grace and Millie have been best friends since their first day at kindergarten in South Downs, their small Massachusetts home town. They are different people, of course, with their own secrets and lies, but they've played together, grow up together, and share each other's secrets. And when America finds itself entering World War Two, after the Japanese bombing of its ships at Pearl Harbor, the girls begin a new phase of their lives together, as each quickly marries her own first true love. Life is, of course, difficult for these newly-minted married women, with their husbands away at war. But one morning in 1944, no fewer than sixteen telegrams arrive at the town's Western Union office, being manned by Babe, in the absence of the town's men. These telegrams bear news of the most universally dreaded kind from the War Department; the kind of news that must inevitably wreck the life of each recipient.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By M. K. Burton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
World War II wreaked havoc on men's and women's lives, changing them in ways they never could have anticipated. Next to Love takes us on a journey through the war and the following twenty years of aftermath, as characters learn to live with themselves and try and regain who they once were. The novel follows three women, Babe, Grace, and Millie, who were best friends and whose husbands and boyfriends went to serve in the war. Feldman examines the problems women on the home front faced and the devastation of war away from the battlefields - and the way it never quite lets go of its victims.

I knew I was going to like this book, but I never expected it to love it as much as I actually did. I read it in what felt like a flash, completely enthralled by the stories of these three women and the struggles they have to endure. While they mainly saw themselves as getting on with it, they were really witnessing a pivotal period for women and for the family; their growing strength speaks to the stronger women's movement that was approaching.

Feldman doesn't skimp on difficult subjects. Babe's husband, for example, returns from war changed in ways Babe isn't sure she liked. We hear about the joyful reunion often; what about the one that is fraught with anxiety? The husband that can't sleep and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder? That night before your husband goes to war and you might never see him again? Each woman deals with difficult issues directly related to the war, and then related to moving forward with lives that are irrevocably changed.

The world changes, too. Characters in the book are determined to fight racism. They witness huge changes in status as the American world fundamentally shifts around them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another strong offering from Feldman 12 Nov 2011
By K. Wright VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After enjoying Ellen Feldman's previous book, 'Scottsboro,' I was looking forward to reading 'Next to Love,' a story set both during and after WWII. Revolving around three friends Babe, Grace and Millie, Feldman tells the story of how the women cope when their husbands go off to fight. The story starts strongly as Babe gets a job pasting telegrams for the Western Union where she prays that she will not hear about her husband. However the women's lives all change forever as sixteen telegrams arrive on one day from the War Department.

I found that the build up and the immediate aftermath of the fateful day in 1944 were extremely compelling. The story continues over the next 20 years with alternating chapters intertwining and overlapping between the women and their families as they deal with the aftermath of the war. Whilst the rest of the book is well written it doesn't quite maintain the gripping qualities of the beginning part of the book and thus loses a star. I would still recommend this book but for me doesn't quite live up to its predecessor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Young American wives during WWII 28 Sep 2011
By Ms. Sophy Friend VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have recently read a fair number of books set around the Second World War and found this book set in America was a refreshing angle to see it from.

The three main characters Babe, Milly and Grace were well written and I had empathy with them, particularly Milly.

Each woman has a very different experience of the war years, but they remain loyal to each other. There is sometimes resentment and jealousy, but the bond between them is strong, and survives the war and the difficult years that follow.

I would recommend this for readers who enjoy this period of history and want to read a different slant from the European experiences of the War.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The ongoing effects of war
The different lives of Millie, Babe and Grace are bound together before the war, but this book follows through the aftermath and for several decades afterwards. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gill-EJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Next to love
A fantastic read. Absolutely loved it, really gives insight into the heartache and love of war. Would recommend this highly.
Published 6 months ago by Unknown
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Ellen Feldman is my discovery for 2012, after reading this and Scottsboro, I am in awe of her skill as a writer. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mrs Teresa Trafford
3.0 out of 5 stars A good light read
I liked this but I wouldn't rave about it the way I have raved to people about "Scottsboro". That was absolutely superb. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Girl with a book
3.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
Today we share all of our feelings about everything with everyone. We feel compelled to voice our problems to anyone who will listen. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Red Rock Bookworm
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed
Even by the end of the book I was still struggling to work out who was who of the main 3 characters. I don't feel any of their characters were developed enough to engage with. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Sophie A. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it...
In a small town in Massachusetts, three women, Grace, Babe and Millie are bonded by friendship. Together they share the minutiae their lives, and find comfort in shared intimacies,... Read more
Published 23 months ago by jaffareadstoo
4.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic WW2 romance
This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now, and I admit I wasn't too keen to read it as I'm not that big on romantic novels or chick lit. Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by AR
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by it's cover
I admit, if I'd seen this book on the shelf in a bookshop I'd not have given it a second glance. Much less when reading the blurb on the back and seeing it's a war story. Read more
Published on 15 Feb 2012 by Dinah93
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting first half but ran out of steam towards the end
I've read and enjoyed Ellen Feldman's three previous novels which have all been based on real people involved in real events and I was interested to see how she would handle a... Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2011 by Denise4891
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