When they had married, it had been in the midst of a war that seemed never-ending. She had accepted Raymond’s ring without considering the fact that one day it would mean following him halfway across the world. But now, as she waited for her orders to join him in America, she began to question what she had done.
(from GI Brides, page 174)
Quick summary: GI Brides profiles just four of the more than 70,000 British women who married American soldiers during World War II and followed them to the United States, including author Nuala Calvi’s grandmother, Margaret. Based on interviews with the women, the book goes into detail about each of their lives during the war, how they met their GI husbands, and what life was like for them in a new country as they raised their families.
Why I wanted to read it: I had no idea there were so many war brides, and I was curious about how these women fared after leaving their homes and families to start anew in a strange country.
What I liked: GI Brides reads like a novel, which makes it very easy to get absorbed in the stories of these women. Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi obviously did a lot of research, and they present the stories of Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Lyn in such a way that I cared about them and felt like they were old friends. Pictures are included so readers can put faces to the names, and I found myself flipping to them many times while I read.
What I disliked: The chapters alternate among the women, and at first that made it difficult for me to keep track of their stories, especially if I put the book down for a day or two before coming back to it. That didn’t keep me from loving the book, though.
Final thoughts: Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Lyn came from different backgrounds, but they had a lot in common. These women each found a way to do their part for the war effort, whether volunteering at a Red Cross club like Sylvia or joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service like Rae. Despite each of them finding love or at least some semblance of happiness with their American soldiers, these women experienced many challenges and hardships. Most importantly, these women were strong, adventurous, and able to overcome the various obstacles thrown in their paths. GI Brides is a fascinating book about just a few of the many women brave enough to cross an ocean — on their own — for a chance at love, with no guarantees that it would work out or that they would ever see their families again.
Disclosure: I received GI Brides from William Morrow for review.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.