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Next to Love Paperback – 7 Oct 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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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: 13.5 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,155,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`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.'

`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.'

`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.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel tells the story of three women - Babe, Millie and Grace - friends from childhood, and wives of American service men during and in the aftermath of the second world war. It is a story of love, loss and widowhood, of motherhood and of childlessness, and of the way in which these three different people cope with what fate throws at them.

To say what happens to each of the characters would spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that each woman has a very different experience of the war years, while trying to help and support her two friends. There is sometimes resentment and jealousy, but the bond between them is strong, and survives the war and the difficult years that follow. There are children, too; two who have lost a father, and one in particular who has never known his, and who makes strenuous efforts to fill in the gaps for himself, and try to know the father he never met.

The ingredients for this novel are promising, it is well-researched, and the writing is good. The anxious waiting of wives who are left at home is skilfully portrayed, as is their relationships with each other. However, although I quite enjoyed this novel, I never really entered into the feelings and emotions of the protagonists, and the fact that the story jumps around in time (an increasingly popular device, and one that I tend to find irritating)certainly didn't help. I saw no point in it, and it simply served to confuse this reader. Also, because the three women are in such similar situations, I sometimes had to check to make sure which was which, and to whom each was married. Thinking about it now, I think it might have helped if the three had had less in common and were more easily differentiated. I also found the lengthy letters from the three husbands an unnecessary distraction.
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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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