Friday, 28 March 2014

Guest Book Review: Adele Parks - Spare Brides

Reviewed by Danielle Pullen

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.

Amazon links: KindleHardback or Trade Paperback

Following the end of the Great War, life changed for women of a certain age. With a lack of eligible men and the loss of fathers, sons, brothers, sweethearts and husbands, women found themselves in a precarious but yet more influential position.

Lydia has everything one could wish for – including a husband – but she feels ashamed that his work prevented him from taking a more pro-active role in the war effort. Beatrice is not a typical beauty and, coupled with a lack of wealth in her family, she has little chance of securing a husband with young men in such short supply. Ava is seen as an enigma by the others. She has ideas way before her time and does not toe the line. Sarah has the most traditional story. A wife and mother, she loses her husband and is forced to become a single parent. Will her lack of finances force her to find a new partner? How will she find a partner who will take on a widow with children?

Spare Brides considers an angle on the British post-war context not often seen. Instead of focusing on the typical family situation or the male-dominated experience, Parks looks solely at the plight of women living through a unique period in history. She considers women who are bereaved, those who have children, those who are childless, those who are supporters of the new feminist movements and those who long for the traditional life of marriage and children.

As anyone who has read my reviews before will know, I’m not a huge fan of chick-lit and, therefore, I worried a little about reading a book by a long-established author connected with contemporary women’s fiction. However, this book was a real one-off. Although the issues are considered with a light touch, and this is certainly not literary in tone, Parks does discuss a range of issues and ideas I hadn’t considered previously.

This was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

I'd like to thank Georgina at Headline Review for sending a copy of the book to Danielle to review for my blog.  

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