From the epigraph:
War ... next to love, has most captured the world's imagination. - Eric Partridge, 1914
While meandering through the aisles on the last day of BEA the cover of this book caught my eye. When I saw that the author was at the booth signing the last few copies of the book I immediately rushed over to see what it was all about. During my chat with the author I discovered that the book was set during World War II and I knew that I had to read it.
Turns out, this is THE BEST BOOK that I brought home from my BEA/BBC trip!
About the Book
The story centers around three female friends who got married at the start of WWII. Each of their husbands is sent off to war but not all of them come home again. Can these women maintain their friendship when some are widowed and others are not? For those whose husbands did return, what happens when the man you married is not the same man who came back to you after the war? The book relates the tragedy and triumph the war years but it doesn't stop there. It goes on to explore what happened in the lives of these women in the 20-odd years that followed.
Why I Read It
A few years back I sat down with my grandma and helped her move all her photos out of the old, crumbling album where they'd been for 50 years and into a new album. During that project Gram shared tons of stories with me about her childhood and early married life. I knew the war stories - those were common tales in our house - but much of the rest was new to me. By the time we finished I felt like I knew Gram as a young woman rather than only as my grandma. That's one of the reasons I was so drawn to this book - it gives me insight into the WWII generation and helps me see them as young people in the heyday of their lives instead of the senior citizens they are today.
I was sucked into this book from the very first pages. It begins in the middle of the war with one of the main characters getting news that several young men from town died in battle. From there the story goes back in time to the first days of the war. That scene from the start of the book? It actually happens about halfway through - I loved that, since I had expected it to be closer to the end.
The point-of-view switches between the three main characters, sometimes covering the same event from more than one perspective. Again, I loved that - it was interesting to see how the same situation could be viewed so differently by these women.
Reading this book gave me insight into what the lives of my grandparents generation were actually like, both for the good and for the bad. For that alone I would have enjoyed the book, but add in realistic characters, a compelling story, and great writing, and you've got an all-around fantastic book.
Have you read this one yet or seen other reviews? It comes out in hardcover on July 26 - will you be buying a copy?
Also, I want your opinion on the cover. The image at the top is the ARC cover, the one that I have. The image down here is from the hardcover. Which one do you like better? I LOVE the ARC one - it's what drew me to the book in the first place. I'm not a big fan of the new cover. To be honest, I'd have walked right past it ...