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Monday, September 1, 2014

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love

"The US Army was not keen on its soldiers marrying while on duty abroad, and the process of obtaining permission to wed was an elaborate one. A commanding officer had to approve the application, and write a letter to the civil or church authority who would conduct the marriage, having interviewed the GI in question. The potential bride was also subject to questioning, usually by an army chaplain, and was required to provide character references. The Army did its best to dissuade prospective brides, who were often accused of using marriage as a ticket to a more prosperous country. Meanwhile, checks were made into any dependents of the GI in the US, to ensure that the husband could afford to keep his new wife. Unsurprisingly, the process often took many months, but any GI caught violating the Army's strict procedures was subject to a court martial." (pg 57)

In the book, GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by authors Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, tells the personal stories of four warbrides who weren't looking for love during WWII but love eventually found them. Sylvia Bradley, Rae Brewer, Margaret Boyle and Gwendolyn Rowe, all share their very different accounts of the war, their service, family life and what it was like coming to America. The stories are bittersweet because you realize that they were virtually leaving their entire life behind to follow the man they loved to come to a country where they knew no one. Their stories of one of courage, admiration and strength in the direst of circumstances and for some they didn't find the American dream but instead found a nightmare in the man they though they knew.

In my history classes, I remember learning about the lives of the more than 70,000 war brides that came to American looking for a better life, dreaming that things would be different, a land filled with hope and promise, of abundance and riches, but instead often found themselves denied entry. When they came off the ships bringing them to America, the very men they married, denied their marriages leaving them to the care of the Red Cross workers to help them find a way in this new world. Women with children were often subject to ridicule by the American citizens who thought very little of them, calling them prostitutes and worse. You discover how difficult life was living in Britain and London while bombs were literally being dropped at random.

"While soldiers were being killed every day on the Continent, life on the home front was far from safe. Since the Normandy landings, the Nazis had begun using two devastating new weapons. The V-1 or 'doodlebug', was a pilotless plane that would fall from the sky when its engine cut out, causing a ton-weight warhead to explode on impact. Even more terrifying was the V-2 rocket, which travelled at nearly five times the speed of sound. The only warning it gave was a sonic boom as it dropped from 30,000 feet, and could destroy a whole row of terraced houses." (pg 90).

I receive GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation and the opinions contained here are strictly my own, unless otherwise notated. This is simply a must read for fans of WWII non fiction. It is filled with pictures from the 4 GI Brides featured in this book and besides their personal memoirs, you get a lot of historical facts about what the process was like, that it truly is an exceptional book. It reads like a fiction novel, taking turns alternating the chapters between each of the four women. For me, I was so entranced with their stories, I found the toggling between the four to be a bit distracting and instead maintained my reading with one woman at a time, finding her name in each chapter to keep the story flowing. It is honestly that great to read. It is heart-warming, poignant and in the end you get a chance to get to know the authors a bit more personally and find out what it was like for them to write this book. You might just be surprised to learn even more about them. I literally finished this book in a handful of hours because I was drawn into the lives of these four women in unforgettable ways.  I easily rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and it will definitely be joining my collection of WWII books in my personal library.

For more information GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi or where to pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi on Facebook to stay up to date with all their latest books.

To read more reviews on GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love, please visit William Morrow's website.

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