Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

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For fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Postmistress, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave set during the years of World War II and its aftermath.
It’s 1941. Babe throws like a boy, thinks for herself, and never expects to escape the poor section of her quiet Massachusetts town. Then World War II breaks out, and everything changes. Her friend Grace, married to a reporter on the local paper, fears being left alone with her infant daughter when her husband ships out; Millie, the third member of their childhood trio, now weds the boy who always refused to settle down; and Babe wonders if she should marry Claude, who even as a child could never harm a living thing. As the war rages abroad, life on the home front undergoes its own battles and victories; and when the men return, and civilian life resumes, nothing can go back to quite the way it was.
From postwar traumas to women’s rights, racial injustice to anti-Semitism, Babe, Grace, and Millie experience the dislocations, the acute pains, and the exhilaration of a society in flux. Along the way, they will learn what it means to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a fighter, and a survivor. Beautiful, startling, and heartbreaking, Next to Love is a love letter to the brave women who shaped a nation’s destiny.
“Impossible to put down.” —Stacy Schiff
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About Ellen Feldman

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ELLEN FELDMAN, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of Scottsboro, which was shortlisted last year for the Orange Prize, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Lucy.

Author Residence: New York, NY.

Author Hometown: New York, NY
Published July 26, 2011 by Spiegel & Grau. 320 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Next to Love

Kirkus Reviews

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Sincere, at times piercing, Feldman’s (Scottsboro, 2008, etc.) latest tracks the experiences of three women, best friends since kindergarten, whose fortunes are shaped by what World War II did to their men folk and their world.

Jul 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

The Guardian

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Ellen Feldman's previous novel, Scottsboro, brilliantly retold the story of the so-called "Scottsboro boys", a group of black men wrongly accused by two white women of rape, and convicted on such flimsy evidence it caused a worldwide outcry.

Nov 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

Publishers Weekly

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Feldman's latest (after Scottsboro) follows three female friends through WWII and into the '60s as lives, loves, and perceptions change both within and without.

May 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love


Next to Love is highly recommended to readers of historical fiction and anyone interested in World War II.

May 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

Book Reporter

The choices each of them makes --- choices that in some cases would never even have been available to them before the war --- provide intimate glimpses into their lives and the times in which they live.

Jul 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

The Telegraph

Ellen Feldman has a penchant for centring her novels on real-life characters: Eleanor Roosevelt’s social secretary (Lucy), Anne Frank’s teenage friend (The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank), nine black men accused of rape in Thirties Alabama (the Orange Prize-shortlisted Scottsboro).

Oct 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

The Bookbag

Summary: Spanning the 1940s through to the 1960s this is the story of Babe, Grace and Millie, three American women whose lives are forever affected by the Second World War when their husbands are sent off to fight.

Jul 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

We meet three childhood friends in Massachusetts – Babe, Millie, and Grace – whose men are on the cusp of going off to World War II.

Jul 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

Red Room

Rather than write a novel about individual men who served in the war, the author chose to focus on “love and loss, and the scars they leave.” This refreshing book looks at how women survive war and its aftermath.

May 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Next to Love

The American Book Center Blog

Tags: annick meijboom, Book Reviews, ellen feldman, Fiction, recommendations, wwII fiction, You Review This entry was posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 7:25 pm and is filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, You Review.

Sep 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Next to Love


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