Wednesday 21 January 2015

Book ~ "GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love" (2014) Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

From Goodreads ~ The “friendly invasion” of Britain by over a million American G.I.s bewitched a generation of young women deprived of male company during the Second World War. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms and aura of Hollywood glamour, the G.I.s easily conquered their hearts, leaving British boys fighting abroad green with envy. But for girls like Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn, and even the skeptical Rae, American soldiers offered something even more tantalizing than chocolate, chewing gum, and nylon stockings: an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, an opportunity for a new life in affluent, modern America. 

Through the stories of these four women, "G.I. Brides" illuminates the experiences of war brides who found themselves in a foreign culture thousands of miles away from family and friends, with men they hardly knew. Some struggled with the isolation of life in rural America or found their soldier less than heroic in civilian life. But most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair and prove to those back home that a Hollywood ending of their own was possible.

These are the true stories of Sylvia, Margaret, Lyn and Rae, who were young English women during World War II.  All four met, fell in love with and married American soldiers who had been stationed there.  After the war, they moved to the States to be with their husbands.  Away from their families and everything that was familiar to them, they made a new life with men it turned out they barely knew, in strange environments and with strange ways and foods.

None of the experiences turned out as they had expected ... they were not easy times and a couple women ended up going back to England (one to stay permanently).  Only one ended staying happily married and even that took a lot of work and patience.  You can read their stories here.

I can't imagine what it was like living through the war, getting married so young and then heading off by boat to another country.  They were so brave!  When they arrived in America, they talked funny and had different sayings, they couldn't find a decent cup of tea, the food was different (one married an Italian whose mom used a lot of garlic and spices in her cooking), etc.  They had no job or money so were dependent upon their husbands for everything.  They didn't want to admit to their families back home how bad their situations were and they had to make the best of it.

I liked the writing style and thought the stories were interesting.  The chapters alternated between the different women's stories and I found this confusing.  I had to keeping going back to the women's previous chapters to see what their storyline was.  I imagine the authors did it to keep the timelines progressing at the same time but it didn't work for me.  I would have rather to have read each woman's full story and then moved on to the next woman.

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