Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review for Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Spare Brides by Adele Parks
Publisher: Headline
Release: 13th February 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, WW1, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Source: Received for review via Netgalley

"New Year's Eve, 1920. The Great War is over and it's a new decade of glamorous promise. But a generation of men and women who survived the extreme trauma and tragedy will never be the same.

With countless men lost, it seems that only wealth and beauty will secure a husband from the few who returned, but lonely Beatrice has neither attribute. Ava has both, although she sees marriage as a restrictive cage after the freedom war allowed. Sarah paid the war's ultimate price: her husband's life. Lydia should be grateful that her own husband's desk job kept him safe, but she sees only his cowardice.

A chance encounter for one of these women with a striking yet haunted officer changes everything. In a world altered beyond recognition, where not all scars are visible, this damaged and beautiful group must grasp any happiness they can find - whatever the cost."

I’ve read and enjoyed some of Adele Parks’ books in the past and Spare Brides is her first venture into Historical Fiction. After reading the synopsis I knew this was a book for me. There is a wealth of books set during WW1 and so I found the idea of a book set post war really refreshing. This book focuses on the outcome war had on society, particularly the women, a generation of ‘spare brides’ left behind after losing their men.

The book centres around four friends who have been affected by the war in different ways. Firstly there is Lydia who is more fortunate than most. She has her husband, money and title still intact but instead of feeling lucky she feels ashamed of her stay at home husband and so begins an affair with a Sergeant. Lydia brought out a range of emotions in me as a reader. At times she really frustrated me and other times I felt incredibly sorry for her. She’s a complex character that’s for sure and she constantly surprised me. Although not my favourite of the girls she was definitely the one I enjoyed reading about the most.

Then we have Sarah, Lydia’s opposite, who lost her husband and money to the war and is left bringing up their children alone. Although we don’t hear from Sarah as much as the other girls I loved her character and felt sympathy for her situation.

Ava is a modern and forward thinking young woman. She’s the life and soul of the party and a flapper through and through. She embraces the idea of this new future war has given her and all the exciting new opportunities that come along with it for women.

Then there’s Beatrice who has an opposite attitude to Ava. A single and plain woman with no fortune she faces a life alone without the husband and babies she so desperately wanted for herself. Beatrice is incredibly lonely and my heart ached for her.

I loved the different vantage points having four very different heroines provided and each lady had a different story to tell and brought out different emotions in me. Each voice stood out and sounded authentic and I adored the women’s friendship. In a new world that was different and uncertain in many ways all they truly had was each other.

Sexy, scandalous and sad Spare Brides perfectly captures the mood of the early twenties from the grief of what was lost to the hope of a new future and tells the untold story of a generation of women who lived and endured through it all.

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