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Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
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Next to Love (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ellen Feldman

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3277633,822 (3.76)25
Member:MEENIEREADS
Title:Next to Love
Authors:Ellen Feldman
Info:Picador USA (2011), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Next to Love by Ellen Feldman (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
I've seen so many reviews of this book that just rave about it and give it the highest praise and once again, I am going to be in the minority and go against the popular opinion. The premise of the story is terrific: three women thrust into the struggle and stress of World War 2 are left alone when their husbands go off to fight. When the war ends, life goes on and America and its people are changed forever.

The novel is rich historically and provides a perspective of World War 2 that is interesting: what happens to those left behind and how does everyone adapt when the war is finally over? And, while there are moments of drama and heartache, the story itself was disappointing and rather lackluster. Present tense narration is always frustrating to me and I don't think it helped the story. Why do authors write in present tense anyway? I have yet to read a book written in the present tense where that tense actually made the book better. I think, in part, it was the narrative that kept me from connecting with the characters and ultimately I felt it was a story that tried too hard to please. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
I've seen so many reviews of this book that just rave about it and give it the highest praise and once again, I am going to be in the minority and go against the popular opinion. The premise of the story is terrific: three women thrust into the struggle and stress of World War 2 are left alone when their husbands go off to fight. When the war ends, life goes on and America and its people are changed forever.

The novel is rich historically and provides a perspective of World War 2 that is interesting: what happens to those left behind and how does everyone adapt when the war is finally over? And, while there are moments of drama and heartache, the story itself was disappointing and rather lackluster. Present tense narration is always frustrating to me and I don't think it helped the story. Why do authors write in present tense anyway? I have yet to read a book written in the present tense where that tense actually made the book better. I think, in part, it was the narrative that kept me from connecting with the characters and ultimately I felt it was a story that tried too hard to please. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
I've seen so many reviews of this book that just rave about it and give it the highest praise and once again, I am going to be in the minority and go against the popular opinion. The premise of the story is terrific: three women thrust into the struggle and stress of World War 2 are left alone when their husbands go off to fight. When the war ends, life goes on and America and its people are changed forever.

The novel is rich historically and provides a perspective of World War 2 that is interesting: what happens to those left behind and how does everyone adapt when the war is finally over? And, while there are moments of drama and heartache, the story itself was disappointing and rather lackluster. Present tense narration is always frustrating to me and I don't think it helped the story. Why do authors write in present tense anyway? I have yet to read a book written in the present tense where that tense actually made the book better. I think, in part, it was the narrative that kept me from connecting with the characters and ultimately I felt it was a story that tried too hard to please.

My opinion though, as is often the case, is in the minority and you will find many positive reviews from the list below. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
I am sorry to say that I had this book on my shelf for four years because of the title. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman stayed there because of the title threw me off. This is not a book about romance but about the effects of war on all kinds of love. Not just couple love but a love a child for its parent. This is the story of three woman, friends since kindergarten, their husbands and their children and the terrible cost of war. Each woman and man were totally unprepared for what it would be like when their men went to war. They all had different backgrounds, different ideas of what life should be, how do the women wait for their men to come home, if they come home, injured or dead?

The preparation for facing the extremely horrible sights, smells of war and losing friends were grossly inadequate for the men. Many had PTSD. This book is set in the U.S. and before, during and after WWII. The book speaks the truth about the war being so tragic, so horrible so obscene that it was impossible to write home about it the letters. So a good deal of the letters focused on how much the man loved and missed the woman. I can see that clearly in this book and also in my father’s letters when he was serving during WWII.

I am impressed that the author did not limit herself to just the damage to the men and the women but also those others at home, the little children, the fathers and mothers.

This is an extraordinary portrayal of the emotional costs of war and how people tried to cope, some successfully, others not. I am a baby boomer so I was shielded by my parents about what happened then except for the deaths. But I am old enough to remember the Korean War and know about the damage that it can do the children when their fathers left. We are all aware of PTSD during the Vietnam War and all the wars that have followed. This book shows that it doesn’t matter which war. The problems are timeless.

I don’t want to give away the story, what I do want to do is to plea with you to read it and feel and think about it instead. ( )
  Carolee888 | Feb 26, 2015 |
The opening of Next to Love is brilliant. A telegraph operator is the first to learn which men from the town have died in war. The story line then backtracks: three women in the town marry in anticipation of WWII, then we follow the couples into the war and out the other side. No one emerges unscathed; what Ellen Feldman does so well is show us the variety of ways in which people can be destroyed or scarred by war and, in some cases, eventually heal. Well-written and well-paced, this book neatly characterizes a slice of American social history. ( )
  SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
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Epigraph
War…next to love, has most captured the world’s imagination.
-Eric Partridge, 1914
It’s all so terrible, so awful, that I constantly wonder how “civilization” can stand war at all.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1944
They fed us with all this crap about John Wayne and being a hero and the romance of war. . . . They set up my generatin, they set us up for that war.
-Ron Kovic, 1986
In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 have seen no war.
-Will Durant, 1968
Dedication
For Andre Bernard
First words
Prologue:
July 17, 1944:
In the year and a half Babe Huggins has worked for Western Union, she has been late only once before.
Book One: 1941-1944:
December 1941:
Babe does not take long to learn the dirty little secret of war. It is about death. Everyone knows that. But it is also about sex. The two march off to battle in lockstep.
Quotations
Then the war came, the weddings began piling up like crashed cars on an icy highway. . .
Millie always knew how to get what she wanted. Her parents’ deaths taught her to want what she could get.
Only a fool would want to go back to that office reeking of death and grief. But it was her own front line in the war, and for three years she womaned it with a singleness of purpose.
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Follows the stories of three young couples whose lives are irrevocably changed in the years following World War II, a period during which they struggle with difficult losses and witness profound transformations in American culture.

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