Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

From the Hardcover editionNext to Love by Ellen Feldman
Published by Random House
Review copy sent by the publisher in conjunction with TLC Book Tours

Childhood best friends Babe, Millie, and Grace have always been there for one another, and when the men they love go off to fight in World War II, it is no different. They remain tight as can be, living their lives the best way they can in their small Massachusetts town while there is a war going on overseas. The war brings many changes to their lives, it forces them to grow up quickly and to reinterpret their worldviews. As their lives change, America changes around them, and the reader is given a peek into how much the war shaped everything about their lives.

Next to Love is a unique war novel that is truly not to be missed. Rather than being about the war itself, this novel focuses on those left behind – the wives and families of the soldiers. I was surprised by the fact that the book spans such a huge amount of time, pleasantly so as it really gave the reader the opportunity to get to know these characters as completely as possible.

Speaking of the characters, I loved all three of them. Babe, Millie, and Grace had three very different experiences in the years the book followed them and these experiences shaped so many of their choices and the directions their lives took. I loved the fact that they stayed best friends throughout all of this, even when they dealt with extremely difficult times. I just really enjoyed getting to know the three of them and following them throughout all the ups and downs of their lives – before, during, and after the war turned their worlds upside-down.

I think the biggest thing I took from this novel is the fact that war changes everything. It does not come and go, leaving people to their own devices, but rather it lingers for decades afterword, affecting everything and everyone it touched. The lives of the people in this novel were changed irrevocably, and in many cases were destroyed, because of World War Two. This novel was heartbreaking at times, and bittersweet, but in the end it gave me hope that these characters would persevere despite the obstacles they had faced.

I truly enjoyed the experience of reading Next to Love. While the story spans decades, it never feels too long or complicated. Instead, the reader is treated to an in-depth understanding of the three major characters, and a clear view of how World War Two affected everything about their lives. I would absolutely recommend Next to Love to any fans of contemporary and historical fiction.

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13 thoughts on “Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

  1. I absolutely adore novels set in this time period and actually prefer stories about the survivors at home, rather than the men who fought. This sounds like a beautiful novel and I cannot wait to read it!

    Bonnie @ HandsAndHome

  2. I am looking forward to reading this book – I attended an event with the author where she talked about her research for the book and it is clear she has a real passion for this time in history.

    Great review!

  3. I like that this book focuses more on those left behind, rather than those seeing the action. I think it’s easy to romanticize those relationships where one partner has gone off to war, but the truth of it must have been much harder to handle. This sounds like a great read, and one that I am going to try to snag when I can. Thanks for the particularly enticing and thoughtful review. I am sort of excited about this book now!

  4. Never underestimate the power a girlfriend, especially during a war! I think I would love that part about it, and the fact that you get to see them not only make it through the war, but see the long-lasting effects. I’ve read a couple of reviews of this one, and everyone has loved it.

  5. I have no idea what my problem is, but I was all excited about this book until it sank into my brain that this was set in America rather than Britain. I am crazy about World War II in Britain and all their bravery, and for some totally unfair reason related to America not getting bombed, I can only very occasionally be bothered with World War II in America.

  6. This was THE BEST book that I brought home from BEA so I’m thrilled to see that you enjoyed it as well.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  7. Pingback: Review: ‘Next to Love’ by Ellen Feldman

  8. I am reading this novel right now and am trying to force myself to slow down. I don’t want it to end. Love the characters. They seem real… not stereotypes. I also, like someone else said, really like reading about this time period.
    I’ve never heard of this author before. I don’t know if she’s written anything else. Will check. But… I could wholeheartedly recommend this book to my friends.

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