Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman (TLC Book Tour)

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
(Rated: P, S)
Spiegel and Grau (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0812992717
Published July 26, 2011
Hardcover, 320 pages

World War II. It caused loss of countless lives and left haunting scars on the survivors and their families. This is what Next to Love explores through the lives of three very different women: Babe, Grace, and Millie along with their husbands and children from 1941 to 1964. With an honest voice, their stories are told, their wounds shared and their realities exposed as they dealt with their everyday lives.

Feldman succeeds in creating realistic characters that remained true to their traits throughout. She had me wanting to know how they would deal with their despair, love, situation and changing times as I turned the pages. Feldman builds the emotional turmoil of post-war life well. The setting of 1940s American small town is palpable, and Feldman captures the feeling of post-war changes that would eventually affect women in the workplace, the segregation of blacks, and anti-semitism.

I liked Babe's feminist personality, Millie's courage to go after what she wanted and Grace's will to fight her obsession. I couldn't relate to any of them, though, except perhaps Millie, whose family life resembled mine and seemed the happiest. Sometimes, though, I wished the characters would have communicated what they really felt in their marriages, instead of letting it fester. I didn't always agree with their decisions, but I certainly understood why they did what they did.

Although the three women kept their friendships throughout their lives, they did not divulge their difficulties to one another. They supported one another with their steady presence, but essentially, they dealt with their problems alone, and at times it was clear they did not understand each other. It made me sad that they suffered in silence. They had no one to confide in.

Next to Love is a well-executed portrayal of the effects of World War II on American families. Its tone is serious and somber, but not morose. I enjoyed Feldman's writing and her ability to put me in an era that gave me insight about life on the homefront after WWII.

Note: There is a rape scene in this book, an explicit sex scene, and a few vulgar words.

About the author:
Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Orange Prize, as well as The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, which was translated into nine languages, and Lucy. In addition to writing novels, she contributes to several blogs and has lectured extensively in this country, England, and Germany.

For more information on Ellen and her work, please visit her website,

I will count this book toward the following challenges: Historical Fiction

Disclosure: Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Erika Greber from Random House Publishing Group for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Sounds like another terrific WWII story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Would you happen to have a contact for the TLC book tours. I checked online with them and it seems their site is not updated and I am having trouble reaching anyone there.

  3. I'm glad to see you really liked this book. I thought it was well done and I was able to like the characters and feel for them even when I couldn't relate to them. I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

  4. I'm in awe of the people who lived through the world wars and love to read about that time period. This book sounds really good.

  5. I am looking forward to reading this. So many books deal with the effects of war and not the aftermath. Great review!

  6. Wonderful review, Laura! Thank you so much for being on the tour.

    Melanie (above) you can reach me at I'm not sure why you had issues with our website as it's working just fine (?)

  7. This sounds like a wonderful historical fiction novel. I really enjoy books written about this time period. Great review!

    I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published.

    Also, my co-author, Stephanie, liked your fb page today. Please like us back at:

    Take care-
    Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens sometimes and I can't fix it. :)


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