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War Brides by Helen Bryan

War Brides (edition 2012)

by Helen Bryan

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3891627,583 (3.49)16
Title:War Brides
Authors:Helen Bryan
Info:AmazonEncore (2012), Paperback, 496 pages
Tags:K, WWII, UK, | 1940er, Sussex, Englisch, dnf12, aussortiert

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War Brides by Helen Bryan



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I wasn’t sure what to expect in Helen Bryan’s War Brides. I’ve always thought of war brides as those who married foreign soldiers during the war and maybe left England and moved away. But these brides come from varied walks of life and meet in an English village near the start of the war. Their lives are shadowed by planes flying overhead and the threat of bombs. And their secrets are many.

There’s an intriguing sense of life’s incompleteness and unexpected connections in this tale. Past memories can be twisted by circumstance. Future dreams can vanish in a moment’s fear. And the present is all we have. In the end, despite all their efforts to change it, the present will have its way with these brides too.

From Louisiana's genteel disgrace to London’s street-smart theft, from Nazi terror to child evacuees, and from society’s assumptions to a woman’s hopes and dreams, this story tells of the displaced finding place, and of past and future lurking in the wings.

Some depictions ring hauntingly true, especially that of a woman’s depression after childbirth, and the sense a village coping with its changing generations in a time of war. At other times readers may find it harder to suspend disbelief. But the story moves through twists and turns, bringing characters together then tearing them apart, and revealing how that quest for closure might be as false the desire to control future and past.

War Brides is a tale filled with mysteries, ending with mysteries of human lives, and it’s a good read, despite its occasional oddities.

Disclosure: A friend wasn’t enjoying it so she gave it to me to read. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Mar 4, 2016 |
Found the book so boring that I only made it half way through. ( )
  Jennie.Cole | Feb 24, 2016 |
MP3 audio

An interesting fact: This Amazon review by K Wolfe seems to have a common thread with many others.
"I really enjoyed this novel but Amazon must have out-sourced the transcription of it to an ESL provider or a very bad typist for the Kindle version. There are lots of typos, duplicate words, and missing words which made it frustrating to read at times..." etc
Apparently this has since been corrected.

I used MP3 audio, narrated by Tavia Gilbert.
She did a wonderful job, with quite a variety of characters.
war bride (British Dictionary)

a woman who marries a serviceman about to go overseas in wartime.

a woman who marries a foreign serviceman and goes to live in his country.

a soldier's bride met as a result of troop movements in wartime, esp a foreign national.
This is the story of Alice, Elsie ,Tanni, Evengeline and Frances and, with the backdrop of WW2, we find an endearing friendship entwining 5 very dissimilar women.
As war closes in, the quiet English village of Crowmarsh Priors is redefined, receiving evacuees from London, experiencing air raids,
rationing, and local men leaving to fight and die.

By way of introduction, we meet "Alice, the local minister's daughter who had never stepped outside Crowmarch Priors; Frances, the admiral's daughter who had been "banished" to the countryside because of her lively antics; Evangelne, the American, who had hurriedly married the dashing English aviator to escape from her arranged marriage; Tanni, a refugee who had narrowly escaped the German persecution of the Jews and Elsie, the lowly tenement girl sent to live in the country to escape the bombings of London." (editorial note)

We experience their lives individually and a shared intimacy that developed with war as the catalyst.
The story begins with four of the women returning for a celebration fifty years later.
But, their mission is not simply to commemorate or remember.
The book has a lively tempo and an unexpected twist at story's end. ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 11, 2016 |
Really good story but ok writing. Too much back-story in beginning. Could tell author was passionate about story. That was what kept me reading ( )
  ellenuw | Jan 27, 2016 |
Five young women from diverse backgrounds form a bond due to the imminent invasion of England by the Germans in WW II. Most of the action in this book takes place in Crowmarsh Priors, a rural southern England location. The village is peaceful and bucolic in the days leading up to Britain declaring war on Germany. Alice Osbourne, the late vicar’s daughter, is the town sweetheart. She has just become engaged to Richard Fairfax, whose family is several rungs up the proverbial class ladder. Richard is a junior officer in the British Navy and is part of a group that goes to the United States for an official visit. While there, he meets and succumbs to the charms of Evangeline Fontaine. Evangeline has a secret that would ostracize her from New Orleans society and convinces Richard to take her with him on his return to Britain. They are married at sea by the captain. Frances Foxleigh is the daughter of a highly placed British admiral and is a wild young thing. She is sent to her aunt, Lady Marchmont, in Crowmarsh Priors, to get her away from the bad company she keeps. Elsie is the eldest daughter of poor folks from London’s East End. She is too old to be billeted away from London with other British children but finds a place as a domestic in Lady Marchmont’s estate home. Elsie is one of seven children and worries about her mum and little ones. Antoinette Joseph (Tanni) is Jewish and just barely escapes from her German home by marrying a family friend who is able to get her to London. Her husband is a professor and works for the British Intelligence. She is waiting to hear about her twin sisters aged four or five. The girls were supposed to be trained out of Germany but delays have caused problems and no one knows where they are. These five young women form a bond during the dark and dreadful days of the war. We follow their stories through an interweaving that is both complex yet plausible. Eventually, we meet up with these women fifty years later when they come back to Crowmarsh Priors and finish up some old business.

This story gripped me from page one! I read it in three days. It was suspenseful, intriguing, and educational all the while adding in a bit of wartime romance. I found it to be well written. I bought the paperback edition and did not find anything negative to say about the editing. There were one or two typos but they did not affect the overall story. The final chapters filled in many of the blanks but I think a second book would have fleshed out the next generation a bit and given the reader more of the back story. That said, I rate this as a five star book for its readability and engaging characters. ( )
  AuthorMarion | Nov 1, 2014 |
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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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