Next to Love
By Ellen Feldman
(Spiegel & Grau, Paperback, 9780812982411, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
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For fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Postmistress, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave set during the years of World War II and its aftermath.
It’s 1941. Babe throws like a boy, thinks for herself, and never expects to escape the poor section of her quiet Massachusetts town. Then World War II breaks out, and everything changes. Her friend Grace, married to a reporter on the local paper, fears being left alone with her infant daughter when her husband ships out; Millie, the third member of their childhood trio, now weds the boy who always refused to settle down; and Babe wonders if she should marry Claude, who even as a child could never harm a living thing. As the war rages abroad, life on the home front undergoes its own battles and victories; and when the men return, and civilian life resumes, nothing can go back to quite the way it was.
From postwar traumas to women’s rights, racial injustice to anti-Semitism, Babe, Grace, and Millie experience the dislocations, the acute pains, and the exhilaration of a society in flux. Along the way, they will learn what it means to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a fighter, and a survivor. Beautiful, startling, and heartbreaking, Next to Love is a love letter to the brave women who shaped a nation’s destiny.
“Impossible to put down.” —Stacy Schiff
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Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Lucy. She lives in New York City.
- For nine years, Babe keeps a terrible secret.How much of a toll do you think it takes on her?Does her hardscrabble background make her tougher than Grace and Millie in the face of adversity?
“Haunting and profoundly moving . . . At turns brave, frustrating, and fragile, [Ellen] Feldman’s characters live and love with breathtaking intensity.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A remarkable novel driven by the powerful engine of most great literature: the yearning for a self.”—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“An intimate look at how we can be dismantled and rebuilt by changing times.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“A deftly revealing . . . portrait of the changing face of America . . . heartbreaking reality.”—Marie Claire
“An honest American experience of the aftermath of World War II rendered in sharp detail and full of pathos, Next to Love tells us what we hate to acknowledge—that personal battles don’t end with the armistice.”—Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany