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War Brides [Kindle Edition]

Helen Bryan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5,796 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The National Bestseller

With war threatening to spread from Europe to England, the sleepy village of Crowmarsh Priors settles into a new sort of normal: Evacuees from London are billeted in local homes. Nightly air raids become grimly mundane. The tightening vice of rationing curtails every comfort. Men leave to fight and die. And five women forge an unlikely bond of friendship that will change their lives forever.

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.

As the war and its relentless hardships intensify around them, the same struggles that threaten to rip apart their lives also bring the five closer together. They draw strength from one another to defeat formidable enemies—hunger, falling bombs, the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, and a traitor in their midst—and find remarkable strength within themselves to help their friends. Theirs is a war-forged loyalty that will outlast the fiercest battle and endure years and distance.

When four of the women return to Crowmarsh Priors for a VE Day celebration fifty years later, television cameras focus on the heartwarming story of these old women as war brides of a bygone age, but miss the more newsworthy angle. The women’s mission is not to commemorate or remember—they’ve returned to settle a score and avenge one of their own.

Revised edition: This edition of War Brides includes editorial revisions.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Helen Bryan is the author of Martha Washington, First Lady of Liberty which received an Award for Merit from the New York Colonial Dames in 2003. This is her first novel. She lives in London where she works as a barrister.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1301 KB
  • Print Length: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (June 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007BSG026
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
661 of 682 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly well done June 17, 2011
By act3
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm still in the grip of this fascinating novel. I may just go back and read it again.
I try to avoid "romance novels", but the WWII setting and the friendship theme made me curious so I bought the book and was blown away! The author demonstrates a masterful ability to create a variety of seemingly authentic times and locations for her story. East End London slums, an old fashioned Sussex village, late '30's New Orleans at Mardi Gras time, and a city in Austria as Hitler rises to power. All these settings and the characters and situations they serve are amazingly real and convincing.
The story (or stories, there are several)is more about coping with extraordinary circumstances and the way adapting changes attitudes, actions and whole lives. The growth of the friendship between these disparate women thrown together by chance is mesmerizing to read about.
The various love stories are believable and satisfying although not at all the point of these women's lives.
These women live and breathe and ultimately matter to each other, to themselves and to the war effort to which they have committed. A completely unexpected treat that I'm glad I took a chance on.

One caveat: the text is very peculiar - not just typos and such but odd words and phrases that seem to be left over from an earlier draft where the author was experimenting with tenses and phrasing. Its fairly easy to figure it all out but its disconcerting and breaks concentration. Still a brilliant book though.
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482 of 497 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy the Kindle version October 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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. There were actually a few sentences that were incomplete, but I could intuit the thread of the thoughts being conveyed, so I just filled in. The plot and characters are very interesting so buy the paperback or check it out at the library.
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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was this ever proof read? February 11, 2012
By AmandaC
Format:Kindle Edition
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the novel and felt the ending to be plausible and just but it feels like an early draft which didn't make it to the proof reader. Mis-spellings, extra words and poorly constructed sentences made this sometimes a bit of a trial to read. The fact that I did is testament to the fact that it's a compelling read but also irritating at times.
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465 of 498 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Terrible Editing August 21, 2011
By Ink
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked this book pretty well but have some negative comments.

I became engrossed in the separate stories of the women and was happy to find out what happened to them in later life, however the ending seemed like the author ran out of steam. She wrapped everything up, I guess, but left an opening for the women to find out that some people were alive who had been believed to have died, some were dead who might be alive, somewhere there was someone's child no one knew about and, oh, the bad guy was the obvious bad guy.

The editing was atrocious. I suppose for $.99 I shouldn't expect much but yikes! There were passages that were indecipherable. Even cheap books should be readable, Amazon.
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96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of those 99-cent special Kindle books from new authors. That said, it is well worth the price although it is not a perfect read. Basically it's about five young women and their experiences in war-torn England during WW2.

The strongest part of the book was the setting. I felt I was right there in the small town in the English countryside, living a life of wartime deprivation, patriotism, sacrifice and the tough mindedness of these women that got them through the awfulness of rationing, bombing raids and constant worry.

Then there were characterizations and the relationships between the women. There was the clergyman's daughter Alice who was dumped by her fiance for the American Evangeline with a secret, Tanni, a Jewish woman who escaped from Austria as the Nazis closed in, Elsie, the Cockney-speaking Londoner and Frances a rich girl on a patriotic mission. While these women were all sketched well by the author, they were a bit too formulaic for my taste and they were all a little too "goody-two-shoes" to feel real to me.

I enjoyed the book however, got into the story and the different women as each of them faced her own unique challenges of wartime. The action moved fast and I was drawn into the story.

However, the writer tried to tie up too many loose ends in the last chapter. This just didn't work for me. By the time I finished the book I was thoroughly annoyed.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this. September 15, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this story of the struggles and friendship of the girls. I thought the characters were well developed, story rang true for the era, and there was some suspense as to who showed up at the end. However, the poor editing was annoying. I noticed that there is a revised edition which I hope has better editing.
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116 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable June 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
A gripping story from start to finish. It really evokes the whole period of wartime Britain. A classic in the genre of historical fiction. I can't understand why this book hasn't already been turned into a film. The characters leapt from the page in a gripping plot steeped in history.
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84 of 92 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Potential Wasted July 29, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I reached about the 25% mark on this book thinking that if only the author had employed a good editor, this book could be fantastic. Imagine my surprise when I got to the end and found out it's an Amazon Encore book. Really? This is "exceptional"?

Considering the ponderous structure, overabundance of insignificant characters, unnecessary sidetracks, and the amateurish POV failures, this is hardly exceptional.
It has great potential. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened. I suppose the only character I wholeheartedly rooted for was Tanni. The rest were either too shallow, annoying, or questionable to care much about. I plowed through to the end wishing I was enjoying it more.

The author does a good job of setting the scene and painting descriptions. However, the pace is ruined by constant POV switches within the scenes. It's as if your whole house was divided into small sections with clear, foot-high barriers. Not noticeable at a glance, easily stepped over, but continually stubbing your toe and then having to lift your feet high to simply walk through the house gets more and more annoying. And tiring. Just as constantly having to shift mental gears when the next character's thoughts intrude is tiring. This is the sort of thing an editor should point out and correct. I can only assume that a total re-write was too much work and they wanted to cash in on brisk sales.

Ponderous structure: Starting everything out in 1995 in a prologue and introducing us haphazardly to numerous elderly characters does this book a disservice. The here-and-there approach was confusing. The book didn't really need to start until Chapter 1.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story!
My husband is reading this book and thoroughly enjoying it. He reads many parts to me and says it contains lots of informational history and is a great story.
Published 12 hours ago by Terri M. Lillquist
5.0 out of 5 stars War Brides is all about the road not taken, ...
War Brides is all about the road not taken, synchonisity and human nature. A facinating book right to the end.
Published 13 hours ago by Kathleen Chrzanowski
4.0 out of 5 stars I certainly got lost in their world and felt for ...
I certainly got lost in their world and felt for all the wives, mothers, sisters etc that had to go through war and especially the inhuman way Jews were treated.
Published 20 hours ago by Fay
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it
Slow start, and hard to keep everyone straight, but then I couldn't put it down! Lots of twists...good read...I would recommend it.
Published 1 day ago by D. Tiefert
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Great history, great story.
Published 1 day ago by Anne Stapsy
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I would have given this book five stars, but at the end it left me with too many questions unanswered. I want to know about Evangeline and what happened to Francis baby. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Very engrossing story - well told.
Published 1 day ago by J. Hoffman
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, compelling read!
Honestly, this sort of novel is not my normal sort but the cover was intriguing and I didn't have any other books in my "to read" list. I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless! Read more
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal!!!
While I have always heard about all of the atrocities committed during WWII to the Jews, I always wondered about the ones that were left behind while their brave spouses were so... Read more
Published 1 day ago by beth vogel
3.0 out of 5 stars War Brides
Easy read. Nice development of characters and events.Has enough of background about the war time to let you feel the hardships in a small degree.
Published 1 day ago by melissa szczepanski
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More About the Author

Helen Bryan was born in Virginia, grew up in Tennessee, graduated from Barnard College and lives in London where she qualified as a barrister and is a member of the Inner Temple. She left the Bar to write full time after publication of her first book, a layman's guide to the English planning system "Planning Applications and Appeals". Her second book was a biography, "Martha Washington First Lady of Liberty," awarded a Citation of Merit by the Colonial Dames of America. She is the author of two bestselling historical fiction novels. The first "War Brides" is a World War II saga inspired by family holidays in a small East Sussex village, the wartime reminiscences of older relatives and friends, and the true life stories of the brave young women who joined Churchill's Special Operations Executive. Her new novel "The Sisterhood" is a romantic/religious/mystery saga spanning 400 years, set in sixteenth century Spain and Spanish America and featuring an unlikely modern heroine.

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Can anyone tell me if the editing problems have been fixed in the Kindle...
I finished the book this afternoon although I downloaded it to my Kindle in February. I did not notice any serious editing errors. Glenn Miller's name was misspelled once (big deal.) Perhaps some people were put off by the British spellings of some words, or by the author's attempt to replicate a... Read More
Aug 28, 2013 by Virginia B. Wolfe |  See all 6 posts
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City of Women - same era, same war, but these women are living in Berlin... They're ordinary citizens being extra-ordinary
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