Next to Love
By Ellen Feldman
(Spiegel & Grau, Hardcover, 9780812992717, 304pp.)
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
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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.
Set in a small town in Massachusetts, Next to Love follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.
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, Feldman’s characters live and love with breathtaking intensity, and her deft juggling of several zigzagging plots makes the pages flow past with the force of a slow but mighty river.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A lustrous evocation of a stormy period in our past; highly recommended for lovers of World War II fiction.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Beautifully rendered.”—Publishers Weekly
“A powerful, haunting, deeply ambitious novel about love and war, impeccably executed, impossible to put down.”—Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life
“Next to Love is a remarkable novel driven by the powerful engine of most great literature: the yearning for a self. These three deeply, compassionately evoked women seek their own individual identities as the world and the people they love undergo profound change. But they have each other and they have their capacity to love, and Ellen Feldman brilliantly shows us how those things prevail.”—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Next to Love is a beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking story about love and war and what comes after. A breakthrough work by a writer who has already established herself as one of our best historical novelists.”—Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland
“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. There is the touch of Everywoman here.”—Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany