Customer Reviews: War Brides
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on October 28, 2011
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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on June 17, 2011
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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on February 11, 2012
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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HALL OF FAMEon November 15, 2011
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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on August 21, 2011
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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on September 15, 2011
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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on June 17, 2011
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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on July 29, 2012
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. After that, there were too many cases of the author shifting the reader out of one place and plunking us down in another to start over. Heavy reliance on dialect in certain cases was grating. It took too long to find out how all these people related to each other. Simply put: there are too many threads all tangled up in this book, and the author did not weave them together with enough skill to produce serviceable cloth.

So many scenes could be cut without leaving any holes (example: the scenes in Auschwitz). Again, a good editor would advise this. But setting a short deadline is generally more profitable than taking the time to polish a manuscript to a high shine.
Finally, as mentioned by other reviewers, the end is jaw-droppingly unconvincing and preposterous. The long, drawn-out narration by the twit reporter adds nothing but irritation.

The author goes on at length thanking all the people who helped her produce a "polished" manuscript. I can only hope that next time she finds editors who will be more interested in a tight, technically clean manuscript that reflects well on her than on rushing substandard work to market.
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on May 30, 2013
Totally unbelievable ending. Lots of loose ends. We don't know until the end that one of the characters is supposed to be missing, and what we find of her fate is quite unsatisfying and minimal. The fate of the twins has nothing to do with the rest of the story, and is not connected at the end. The fate of the baby of one of the characters (if there even is one), is left hanging.
The brides part of the title is a misrepresentation, as husbands and marital relations are absent except to get the characters pregnant. And one of the characters has a tacked on romance, seemingly just to get her married off before the end. Two of the characters are in love with someone else before marriage, but the connections with the former lovers seem to evaporate, leaving them in love with the husbands they never see, for no discernible reason.
The part that takes place in Auschwitz contributes nothing to the plot, and never connects with any of it. There is a TV presenter introduced at the end with a silly back story (did she sleep with the producer?) that serves only to be irritating, no connection with the rest of the story. There are other elements introduced that go nowhere. Someone's Godmother and someone's mother (in fact several mothers) seem to suddenly die just to get them out of the way, leaving the characters with no visible distress. The tunnel part is weird and unsatisfying and adds nothing to the story. A bunch of interesting stuff about it, and then it collapses, adding nothing, playing no further role. There is little suspense. There is plenty that could have been suspenseful, but the author never writes of it. For example, the spy part is only minimally touched on at the end of the book. There is no sense of foreboding, or realization of what's going on during the story. The tunnel could have been suspenseful, too, but it wasn't.
We get very little sense of the feel and lifestyle of the war years or what the Blitz was like. A bunch of talk of rationing but the characters seem to have no trouble getting around it whenever it's convenient. The terror of the Blitz is only minimally touchd on.
Part of the frustration of this book is the feeling that it could have been a good story, if only....
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on March 16, 2012
"Alice spent long afternoons with Richard and his nanny, playing in the Fairfaxes' garden in good weather and inventing games in the cellar where Richard's father kept his wine when it rained."

I bought the book War Brides but this one sentence is so disturbing to me that I don't know if I can continue to read it. Where did Richard's father keep his wine when it wasn't raining? Who moved his wine to the cellars once the rain started? Where are the editors of this book?

Don't buy this book if poor editing is upsetting to you. Maybe later in the book we will find out where Richard's father keeps his wine in dry weather but for now, I can't remember when I have read a more poorly written book.
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