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Next to Love


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0679643699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643692
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)

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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Annie B VINE VOICE on June 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Next to Love is a deeply moving novel of war, love and friendship. More than that, it's the story of just how war, in this book's case WWII, leaves its mark not only on the soldiers and their families, but on society.

Since the book descripton summarizes this book so well (unlike many of them), I'll just add that the book is beautifully written and the characters are believable. Babe, Grace and Millie have been friends since they were young children, but they are very different women and experience the war and its aftermath very differently. I feel this gives the book a broader prospective on war experiences than some others I've read. It made me think of relatives who served in WWII and their spouses and I realized that their experiences were very similiar. I know that like the characters in this book for them the war never really ended--they carried, and still carry the scars from it every day. I also realized that as children of a WWII veteran, just how much the war impacted our family and choices that were made, or not made. Clearly, like the characters in this book, the war was always a shadow hovering over us.

Next to Love doesn't only deal with love and war, but also American society before and after WWII. It clearly shows the class and race struggles. I have to say that this made me view the race struggles much differently than I had previously. It is now so obvious to me that the Civil Rights Movement had to occur after WWII, as did the Women's Movement. Both were inevitable after WWII had shaken everything up so much that conventions basically flew out of the window. How could anyone really believe that things could just go back to how they were before. I loved how the author wove these things into the story, enriching the book even more.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Today we share all of our feelings about everything with everyone. We feel compelled to voice our problems to anyone who will listen. We have television programs where each and every unsavory aspect of someone's life is placed on display for the world to see and savor. NEXT TO LOVE takes the reader back to a time when certain areas of ones life were not shared, not even between best friends, and each person quietly coped in their own private way.

Unlike many of the WWII novels currently making their way onto the shelves at the local libraries and bookstores, NEXT TO LOVE is a uniquely American saga that takes place over approximately twenty-five years and follows the lives of three women living in a small town trying to come to grips with war's effects on their lives and the lives of their children. Grace, Millie and Babe are the women in question and their ever evolving relationships are the basis of this novel. There are no big dramatic, bloody war scenes or stories of men in battle. Instead, Ellen Feldman paints a vivid picture of what was happening on the home front and how the women left behind coped with everyday life. She shows us a time when the acronym PTSD did not exist but its effects were evident in the behavior of many of the returning soldiers.

The story moves from 1941 to 1964 and examines the profound and dramatic changes in the world and in the lives of these women. We see the evolution of the United States as it deals with the uncertain realities of racism, sexism, bigotry and the prospect of yet another war. The only aspect of this book that I found mildly annoying was the author's inclination to jump back and forth in time.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
War stories cover familiar ground. Men go to war; some don't return. Those who don't die come back changed. Next to Love tells that story with a twist: its focus is not on the men who go to war but on the wives and lovers left behind. They furnish the novel's perspective on war's casualties: we see their reactions to husbands' deaths and to the erosion of the souls they once knew. The women in the novel are hard hit by war; dozens of the men from their town storm the beaches on D-Day and many die. As the book continues into the 1950s, the novel reflects postwar America in microcosm: the nascent civil rights movement, the baby boom, the displacement of women from the workforce and the blossoming of -- if not feminism -- a growing feeling of discontent on the part of women who are expected to make babies and martinis and leave everything else to men.

Babe Huggins grew up on the wrong side of a small town, about ninety miles from Boston. The nation has gone to war and women (including Babe's friends Grace and Millie) are marrying and getting pregnant by men who will soon return to battle. Babe is not married to Claude when she discovers the longstanding relationship between sex and war but she loves him and lives in fear of his death. Babe is an independent, unconventional thinker but she worries about how other women regard her. Knowing them to be hypocrites, she nonetheless judges herself by their standards and (rather unfairly) finds herself wanting. Her story --as it develops over the course of many years -- is one of pain that induces growth.

Millie and Grace have their own stories, yet as important as they are to the novel, the book belongs to Babe. Millie and Grace focus their lives on being good wives and mothers.
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