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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Marriage Bureau



Who would have thought that two women who simply didn't want to get married themselves would find a way to eke out living just before World War II? Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver both had everything to offer a man who was searching for a wife, both good looks, education and a willing heart for romance, only both of them wanted nothing to do with finding suitable matches for their own hearts, but felt they could match up their friends and family with men they knew overseas that were looking for love, but because of the short duration of their military leaves, didn't have much time to get to know someone before they were shipped back. So an idea was formed to create a perfect place to help love find the right match.

The Marriage Bureau began in a small office in England and they would charge either parties a small fee to find them a suitable partner. While they couldn't guarantee a marriage, they would interview each potential client and find out what they were looking for in a suitable spouse. Then they would send correspondence to both parties to see if they wanted to write one another and decide if a date might be in order. Those that didn't work out, would simply be sifted back into the pile for other possible matches. Along the lines there were plenty of difficult clients to try and find suitable matches for as well as those that were the basis for their business, to find them someone to marry. Often times in as little as 4 days for dating and on the 5th day, marriage. Clients that found their suitable partner were required to pay a Marriage Fee.

It was quite the lucrative business just before the war began, and once the war did, the girls had to get creative in how to keep their business afloat or risk being forced to give it all up. But what the war did was inspire many men to get married quickly so they would have someone to come home to or at least write to during the time they were deployed. From the wealthy elite, to those who were the poorest of the poor, matches were found. Even in the midst of the war, the girls used their skills to turn in clients that might be using their service as spies for the enemy under the guise of looking for love. This is where services like Match.com or eHarmony got their humble beginnings.

I received The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. This is the true story compiled by hours of research garnered by Penrose using newspaper articles, advertisements, film, photographs, letters and books to bring this book to life. From war veterans and widows, to debutantes and shopgirls, each was looking for love and the promise of a future with someone suited just for them. This was the birth of matchmaking based on the true stories of the two women who made it all possible for love to be found in the midst of war in an unforgettable story and most unusual business. I absolutely LOVE the section at the conclusion of the book that shows what women and men's requirements were to become a client in addition to the interview comments from 1939 to 1940. There is even a discussion guide that would make this a perfect book club selection. I give this a 4 out of 5 stars and gives us a look at history we never knew existed before.

For more information about The Marriage Bureau, Penrose Halson or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can find Penrose Halson on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest books.

To read more reviews on The Marriage Bureau, please visit William Morrow's website. 


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