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The GI Bride
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 June 2013
I don't normally read these sort of non-fiction books but when a copy of The GI Bride arrived out of the blue I decided to go it a go. Although this is the second memoir that Iris Jones Simantel has written, the good news is that it can be read completely as a standalone.

Iris is just 15 when she meets and falls in love handsome American soldier Bob Irvine who sweeps her off her feet. However, just months later when Bob hears that he is due to return to the United States he proposes and they get married shortly after Iris' 16th birthday so that they can still be together.

Having endured wartime rations and post war life in Britain, Iris has high hopes for a new exciting life in America but life doesn't exactly turn out for her as she'd hoped. Being young and a long way from family, Iris has to grow up fast and it's only the support of fellow British GI brides that makes life bearable for her especially without any real support from her husband or his family.

I really wanted to love this story especially as it was about Iris' own life in post war times but I can't quite put my figure on why it didn't grab me as much as I wanted to. I'm not sure if it was due to the narrative which I found to be rather bland and simplistic as if she had to reel off a list of events that happened over a timeframe but there didn't appear to be any real substance to the story. It also seemed to come to a very sudden ending which has obviously left room for a follow up book to pick up where this one left off.

Don't get me wrong there were were bits that I did find eye-opening, the noticeable differences between life in post-war Britain and life in the US, the way she was treated by the Lutherian churches she went to for solace and guidance, and how openly she talks about attending a back-street clinic, but these instances were few and far between. I'm sure if you enjoy reading true-life memoirs then this is a book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It is February 1955, and Iris Jones is saying goodbye to her family, and to Britain. She is about to embark upon a life-changing journey, across the Atlantic to start married life with her American soldier husband Bob. More than 100,000 women left the shores of England as GI Brides and Iris, at age sixteen was probably one of the youngest. She was just a small child when World War II was being fought, she met her husband Bob after the war. Iris did not have a happy home life, she felt unloved by her parents, and was living in poverty - America really did seem like the land of opportunity.

Starting with the account of her awful sea voyage over the Atlantic, to her first sighting of the Statue of Liberty, and then finding herself living with parents-in-law who made it plain that they didn't approve of her, Iris Jones Simantel recounts with honesty and often with humour how her dreams didn't quite come true. No more than a child herself, her courage and bravery, and sometimes her utter desperation shines through her writing. It's quite incredible that a young girl, barely out of school and very inexperienced would be allowed, or encouraged to make that journey - so far away from everything familiar, with no support except for a husband who she barely really knew.

The GI Bride is a down-to-earth story, told very well by an author who creates a wonderful sense of place with her writing. She does not shy away from the harsh realities of her life, she doesn't gloss over the things that she had to do to survive, and is totally honest about what she did. There is no doubt that Iris made some decisions that she may have come to regret, but it has to be remembered that she was young, alone, and incredibly protective of her young family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2013
This is a book that gave me a real insight into what life was like in 1950′s London and America, having been born in 1989 and only just scraping by the title of being an 80′s kid I actually wasn't aware of what a GI bride really was. GI stands for either Government Issue or General Issue and GI bride refers to the latter, it's British brides of American servicemen during the war.

Not many books I have read are true accounts of a person's life; those that I have read haven't been as interesting as this one. Iris Jones Simantel was the Saga Magazine life story competition winner and her debut novel Far from the East End tells the story of her growing up as a child and being an evacuee, this book however is about her adult life and follows a 16 year old Iris on her journey over seas (being very sea sick) to America with her new husband and starting a new life.

As somebody who was born and raised in the British Army family I imagined she would move to America and live on a camp/base and live the life of a Military wife. What I hadn't realised was that many of the soldiers had only been enlisted for the war, I don't think they had a choice at the time. So upon their return home they were no longer soldiers and went on to live their previous civilian lives. This meant Iris had to move into the family home of her new husband living with the in-laws who didn't seem to care about her while she had just left her family and friends, it was tough and she went through a lot.

With multiple marriages and divorces, being beaten, dealing with drunks and having two children to raise life wasn't a fairly tale, but it wasn't all bad either as Iris had may good friends who helped her.

Overall this is a good read and enough to keep the reader engaged as you follow Iris on her journey you may stop to realise how easy things are for us today. I'd actually like to know what happened next!
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Iris' account begins with her experiences as a child in WW2, her evacuation (including the alienation of returning to a family she could barely remember). This leads on to being re-housed after the war in Hertfordshire where she meets American serviceman Bob Irvine.

Although this a reflective account, I could still `feel' the innocence of that young women setting out on a journey that would take her a long way from her family and her roots. From the journey to New York through all the moves and changes in her life while living in America, Iris shares with the reader a very honest (and sometimes brutal) account of her experiences.

It's interesting to read about the differences between life in the UK and US back then. Things we take for granted now ... our debit cards, supermarkets, freezers etc of course didn't exist in the UK then. Even the foods Iris had to eat with her in-laws Germanic heritage were totally different. Iris finds solace with the church at different points in the narrative and her experiences here are interesting too ...

Iris is admirable in how she copes with trying to fit into the different circumstances that she finds herself. Within these pages you'll find the darker side of life too ... alcoholism and abuse but despite these experiences that happen without her family by her side, Iris' spirit of making things work shines through. Not giving up, each time something happens to sidetrack her, she picks herself up and moves through a different phase.

Through all her trials and tribulations - romance, health and finding a place to belong, Iris takes us with her on her journey from an innocent 16 year old GI bride to a 26 year old who has experienced many things and although happy, is still trying to find a place to belong.

I would like to thank the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The G I Bride tells the true story of Iris a young girl who falls in love with Bob an American soldier. When the couple get married, Iris gives up everything she knows to move to America to be with the man she feels is her one true love.
But is the dream as great when it becomes reality? Discover what happened when Iris left it all behind for a foreign land.

I enjoyed the descriptiveness of the story, you could feel the emotion behind every crisis or happy time the family had. I guess having lived through it all the author really did put everything she had on to paper and that really was felt.
It did take me some time to read and I found I only read a chapter at a time.

Books about true life aren't really something that I read that often and for me I think that's why I found this book hard going.
But I would recommend this to people who enjoy true life stories because although it's not something I tend to read I did enjoy the story.
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on 3 June 2013
Its so much more interesting to read about someones life when its varied, interesting and differant to your own, and this book is is all of that. I read the first book which got me hooked and I wanted to know how Iris got on in America, this book although it it takes Iris to only 26 years old is fascinating. She had a hard life both with family in England and her two husbands in America, although she made some very strong and lasting friendships she had to cope with a lot for such a young age and on her own. Thankfully there is a Happy ending to this book and although sad in some parts it is interspersed with humour and courage.I am now hoping to to read the next one soon.
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on 5 October 2014
Exasperating, foolish, naive, oh I cannot think of enough words to describe Iris in this book. The saying "out of the frying pan into the fire" comes to mind. If it wasn't bad enough getting married at 16 and sailing off into the sunset ..... not! She has to jump from one bad relationship to another so frequently that it makes your head spin. Sorry Iris but whilst I couldn't stop reading your story, I felt that I needed to shake you into common sense. A great read none the less but my patience with you ran out by the end.
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on 24 May 2013
Quite a sad book in a way as life for Iris was not as expected or easy. She stayed in America with all the problems she had as it was a case of 'you made your bed so you have to lie in it'. With two children and two broken marriages life was a daily fight to survive. Mental and physical torture could have sent her over the edge but Iris battled on. The ending of the book was not as I would have hoped and a further book needs to be written.
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on 15 July 2013
I really enjoyed this auto-biographical book about Iris who comes from an East-End family, meets and falls in love with an American GI and goes with him to live in the USA. Her life there is so different from that in the UK but she looks back with fondness and longing on her life before. She has some amazing experiences, some sad some happy. The book is well written, very easy to read and left me wanting to know more.
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This second book lacked a little of the charm of the first but still held my attention. Sometimes it became almost a diary with insufficient fleshing out and I did feel that it came to an abrupt end - almost as if the book length had been reached and a quick exit required.

In the style of the best cliffhangers though - I want to know more and will devour a sequel!
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