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War Brides by Helen Bryan
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War Brides (edition 2012)

by Helen Bryan (Author)

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6122824,201 (3.46)27
Member:nabhill
Title:War Brides
Authors:Helen Bryan (Author)
Info:Lake Union Publishing (2012), Edition: 39982nd, 496 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, WWII

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War Brides by Helen Bryan

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I enjoyed all the story lines and characters in this book. It is well written and an engrossing read. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
Interesting book that takes place mostly between December of 1937 and August of 1944, with a prologue and ending in 1995. It is the story of five very different young women who were brought together in a tiny English village by the events of World War Two. The prologue and ending show them reunited in that same village on the fiftieth anniversary of VE Day, with more than just catching up on old times on their minds.

Alice is the quintessential English country girl. She's the daughter of a vicar, straight-laced, practical, educated, and likes the outdoors. She's been friends with Richard, son of the local gentry, all her life, and is ecstatic when he proposes to her. The engagement doesn't go as expected though when he returns from a business trip to the US with an American wife. Hurt and disappointed, she moves on with her life. She is involved in the local war effort, doing everything from planting gardens to working as an air raid warden.

Evangeline is the American southern belle who captured Richard's attention. Her story began in New Orleans, where she was in love with her cousin, a mixed-race young man. This was a forbidden relationship because of it, so they kept it a secret. But events happened to separate them, and in desperation, she married Richard to escape scandal. She is a fish out of water in the village, where they have never met anyone quite like her. Her mother-in-law detests her, and her husband is always away doing his thing with the Royal Navy. His absence also leaves her free to reconnect with her cousin Laurent.

Tanni is a young Jewish woman from a well-to-do Austrian family. She barely escaped the Kristallnacht in Austria, as her parents married her off to a Jewish professor who had a job as a professor in England. Her younger twin sisters were due to be evacuated on a children's train on its way also to evacuate youngsters to France and then to England. Her parents and mother-in-law also had papers to make their way to England. She arrived in England with her husband, pregnant, and not knowing the language. Once the war begins in earnest, her husband gets a job with the war department as a translator, and Tanni and her son are evacuated to the country for safety.

Frances is an English debutant, daughter of a brigadier, who is a bit of a wild child. After getting up to some scandalous behavior in London, her dad sent her to her godmother in the country to get her away from the bad influences there. She still manages to find trouble in the country and spends a fair amount of time sneaking out with the local young people. She becomes one of the local Land Girls but is bored silly by the job.

Elsie is a girl from one of the poorer parts of London who was also sent away for safety. She is old enough to be given a job as a housemaid, a job that she is not very good at, but gives her a chance at a better life. While there, she meets up with an acquaintance from her old neighborhood, a young man who is well known for his criminal activity.

I enjoyed the look at what the lives were like for each of the women over the course of the war. Though very different, they are drawn together by the hardships of day to day life. I liked the support they provided to each other, even during those times when they disagreed. I ached for Tanni and her fears for her family, especially as we got glimpses into what was happening to them. I will admit that Evangeline bugged me through most of the book. I thought she was selfish and blind to what her cousin was really like. She did redeem herself in the end, and I liked how she came to love Richard. Alice remained pretty stiff during her time in the village. I liked seeing her finally step out of her comfort zone toward the end of the book, and loved her first meeting with the American airman. It was sweet to see the way they connected so quickly. Elsie was quite the trip as she grew up and grew closer to Bernie. She had a way of looking at things that was very different than the other. My favorite was Frances. Once I saw what drove her to be the way she was, I became much more sympathetic to her. Her frustration with her father's attitude was understandable, though as a parent, I understood where he was coming from also. I enjoyed her determination to take a more proactive part in supporting the war effort. I also enjoyed her relationship with Oliver and loved seeing them together.

Throughout the book, there were two big stories going on. The first one was the effort taken to bring the various members of Tanni's family to England, especially her two little sisters. Official channels weren't working well, and an idea hatched during a drunken evening took a different route. I enjoyed seeing the (sometimes unwilling) teamwork among the women as each used their special talents in the plan. It was interesting to see the outcome of that plan. The other story was one with far-reaching consequences. Somewhere in the vicinity of the village was a German sympathizer who was transmitting weather reports to the Germans, making it possible for them to do their bombing runs. One of Frances's assignments was to keep her eyes open for any indications of who it could be. I was pretty sure I knew who it was early on. The motivations for some of the things he did were pretty disturbing.

The modern segment of the book dealt with the reunion and the things that the women had recently discovered. I liked seeing what they had made of their lives. Elsie's was both the most and least surprising. I enjoyed how they pieced together the story of the spy. Their confrontation with him was enlightening, but I really didn't like the actions that they took. The reporter that was covering the reunion was extremely annoying and I didn't blame the ladies for trying to avoid her. ( )
  scoutmomskf | Jul 29, 2018 |
Overall I enjoyed this book, even though I sometimes got the characters mixed up. The setting during WW II in England taught me a lot about the daily lives and trials of women during that time. We are fortunate that we haven't had foreign wars played out on our land. The book was well written, well researched and very satisfying. ( )
  bcrowl399 | Jun 15, 2018 |
A good story that starts a little slow, and ends a.bit abruptly, but entertaining nonetheless. ( )
  Scott_Hercher | Nov 25, 2017 |
Just rambled on with an assorted bunch of characters. Honestly, couldn't wait for the book to end. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
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Alice Osbourne, the stolid daughter of the late vicar, is reeling from the news that Richard Fairfax broke their engagement to marry Evangeline Fontaine, an American girl from the Deep South. Evangeline's arrival causes a stir in the village but not the chaos that would ensue if they knew her motives for being there. Scrappy Elsie Pigeon is among the poor of London who see the evacuations as a chance to escape a life of destitution. Another new arrival is Tanni Zayman, a young Jewish girl who fled the horrors of Europe and now waits with her newborn son, certain that the rest of her family is safe and bound to show up any day. And then there's Frances Falconleigh, a madcap, fearless debutante whose father is determined to keep her in the countryside and out of the papers. --amazon.com.… (more)

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