web analytics

Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for


Synopsis:

Babe, Grace, and Millie have been friends since they met in kindergarten. The story begins in 1941 and World War II has just begun.

Babe is from below Sixth Street, the wrong side of the tracks, but is fierce, determined, and loyal to her friends. She knows that people around the little town in Massachusetts are gossiping about what Claude Huggins, who hails from the respectable side of Sixth Street, could possibly see in her. But Claude “unhinges” her in a way no man ever has before.

Grace is married to Charlie Gooding, the handsome and charismatic son of King Gooding, the wealthy town banker. King was certain of two things: That President Roosevelt would not send Americans boys to fight in Europe again and even if he did, the National Guard would not be mobilized. Unfortunately, both have come to pass and in the morning, Charlie will be shipping out, leaving Grace and their infant daughter Amy behind.

War . . . next to love, has most captured the world’s imagination.
~ Eric Partridge (1914)

Millie resides with her husband, Pete Swallow, in his old bedroom at his parents’ home. She awaits the birth of their first child, Jack, an event that Pete will not witness. After shipping out, he writes that, should he not return, he does not want Millie “sitting around pining.” Rather, he encourages her to marry again if something happens to him because she’s “too wonderful a wife, … too swell a girl to go to waste.”

The three women bravely forge on while waiting for the men to return, their lives in a kind of limbo for which they, like the rest of the world, are completely unprepared. They have no idea how much their lives are about to change.

Review:

Author Ellen Feldman
Next to Love is a rare book: One that readers will not want to end. The story of Babe, Grace, and Millie spans more than two decades, from 1941 to 1964, and chronicles the hardships and losses they endure during the War, as well as the myriad ways in which their experiences leave them and their community forever changed.

Author explores the struggles of the soldiers who survived to return home and assimilate back into the lives they lived before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 changed them and their world forever. Those who come home are not immediately able to leave the battlefield behind, suffering from survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder, conditions that would not be fully understood for decades to come. Flashbacks, nightmares, and the haunting question of why they were spared when so many others perished plagues the men while the women who love them struggle to understand, be patient, and wait for the man they sent off to fight to fully return to them. The physical and emotional toll the War takes on all who lived through it is compassionately explored by Feldman through her characters’ feelings and behavior.

When the War ends, women are expected to give up their jobs to the returning men, but for some women, including Babe, that is not easy. Some women throw themselves into being homemakers, happy to let their husbands return to being the breadwinners. Others resent being relegated to domestic duties, but dare not give voice to their feelings. So they search for activities that will occupy their time and bring meaning to their lives.

After the war, they wrote and promised and prayed. After the war we’ll do this or that or another thing. After the war we’ll be together. After the war we’ll be happy. After the war we’ll be safe. In all their dreaming of after the war, they never dreamed there is no after to war.
~ Next to Love

The various ways in which post-War societal changes, including anti-Semitism and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, impact the characters are also deftly probed by Feldman, but perhaps the most memorable and touching storylines involve the ways in which the children of the main characters are impacted by the War and its aftermath. One young man seeks answers and desires to know the father he never met, but his mother prefers that he take his stepfather’s name and identify full with him. Dealing with the past, including the man she loved and lost, is too much for her, but her refusal to incorporate her husband’s memory into the new family she has created with her second husband and their children has a profound impact upon her son.

Readers who, like me, are the children of those who served and sacrificed to ensure American freedom will find Next to Love a fascinating and engrossing saga about our parents’ fictional contemporaries. Many of the themes incorporated by Feldman echo and provide new insight into the stories we grew up hearing from our parents and grandparents about the challenging years when America was at war, as well as the difficult transitions that followed. Feldman’s characters are believable and endearing, each flawed in his/her own way and struggling to make sense what has happened to them and their loved ones, often seeking answers to unanswerable questions. Next to Love will frequently move readers to tears, but also pays tender homage to “the greatest generation” without resort to plot contrivances or cloyingly emotional characterizations. Babe, Grace, and Millie are, like the United States, resilient and hopeful. Their stories will resonate with readers long after reading Next to Love.

I read Next to Love in conjunction with the 2011 Read ‘n’ Review and Outdo Yourself Reading Challenges.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Next to Love free of charge from the author in conjunction with the review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Enter to Win a Copy of Next to Love

One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a copy of Next to Love, generously provided by the author.

To enter, simply post a comment! Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes). The book can only be shipped to a United States or Canadian address (no P.O. box).


The comment posted by Mare / TommyGirl at Destiny is Deafening was selected at random and a copy of Next to Love is on its way to Mare!

Thanks to all who participated!


37 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    The quote – Next to Love is so sad and so sadly true. Whenever I start reading about past events or tragic events it really gets me. This book looks like an amazing read.

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  2. Would love to read this. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway

  3. It looks like a lovely story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  4. mamabunny13

    I would love to read Next To Love!
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  5. I would love to read this. The story looks amazing.

  6. I so much would enjoy this book , hope I can win it. Its sounds like my kind of reading.

    amhengst at verizon dot net

  7. Krystal Larson

    This looks like a great novel, thank you for the chance to win! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  8. Doreen R

    This sounds like a very deep, touching and endearing story. I am hooked alreadey.

  9. Tiffany Drew

    I have seen a ton of positive reviews for this book and would love to give it a read!

    jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

  10. I am always drawn to war-historical stories. They are heart-wrenching but can also be uplifting. I will be adding this book to my wishlist.

  11. Wow! This sounds like a great story. I LOVE the cover as well.

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  12. thanks for the opportunity to read this beautiful story 🙂

  13. thanks for this wonderful giveaway. Books that are set in this era and involve realistic characters interest me greatly. Many thanks.

  14. Denise Z

    This sounds like a wonderful read – thank you so much for sharing about it today. I am not familiar with Ms. Feldman’s work and look forward to reading this book 🙂

    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

  15. Pingback: Ellen Feldman, author of Next to Love, on tour June/July 2011 | TLC Book Tours

  16. Brittany Gale

    Please count me in. Thanks!

    quixoticdreamer(at)hotmail(dot)com

  17. Carol Wong

    I would love to read this book because my mother and father lived though the same time period and they have both passed away. I would like to learn more of the challenges and struggles they had to deal with.

  18. Maria (pronounced Mariah)

    This book sounds like a very emotional story! Please include me!

    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

  19. Pingback: West Of Mars — Win A Book! » Blog Archive » Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

  20. Linda Kish

    Thanks for the chance to be included for this wonderful-sounding book.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  21. Nancye Davis

    This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  22. Pamela James

    My dad was in WW11 It’s interesting to read about that time in history.
    pjames330 at aol dot com

  23. Anita Yancey

    Sounds like a wonderful book. I would really enjoy reading it. Please enter me. Thanks!
    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

  24. The book sounds interesting – I’d love to read it. Thank you for the chance.

    tommygirl828 (at) gmail (dot) com

  25. sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy – enter me please

Pin It