GI Brides

September 18, 2014 Biography, History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction, Review 21

GI BridesTitle: GI Brides
Author: Duncan Barrett, Nuala Calvi
Source: TLC Book Tours
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: I loved learning about this fascinating bit of history and the incredible journeys of the GI brides, although I found the third person narration a bit stiff.

During the “friendly invasion” of Britain by American GIs during WWII, many women were bewitched by the handsome soldiers with their foreign accents. Thousands of these liaisons ended in marriage and the US army paid to transport the newly married GI brides to the US. For many, this was an exciting, but terrifying prospect. Many of the couples were just getting to know one another and the women rarely knew what they were getting themselves into. From cultural differences to overbearing families, from drinking husbands to gambling husbands, these women faced incredible, impossible to anticipate challenges when they reached their new homes. The four women in this story didn’t all find fairy tale endings, but through sheer force of will, they each shaped lives that would make them happy.

From the very beginning of the book, I felt that the third person narrative imposed a distance between me and the women in the stories. This got better as I went and got more engaged in the stories. In particular, the pictures in the middle and the conclusion both made me feel more connected to the women because they really brought home the fact that these were true stories.  There were also some very moving scenes throughout as all the women overcame incredible odds. Their stories would be fantastic fiction but are as true stories, they’re also awe inspiring. I loved learning about this fascinating little piece of history that I’d never heard of before.

Given the subject matter and the time period, it was inevitable this book would focus largely on the four women’s relationships with their husbands and other suitors. At times, this made it a little difficult to remember who was who, but the authors did a very good job reorienting the reader as they switched between stories. Despite the focus on the women’s relationships (both in the book and in that time period), they all managed to stand on their own and fight for what they wanted out of life. I think it’s wonderful that the authors are telling the stories of these inspiring women, one of whom is author Nuala Calvi’s grandmother. The fact that the author’s did many interviews and a lot of research is clear from the richness of these stories. If you love learning about women in history or WWII or if you like stories about complicated romance, this is definitely a book for you.

For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tour.

21 Responses to “GI Brides”

    • DoingDewey

      I did have to do some flipping back and forth! Some of the chapters, I felt like the author did a great job reminding me who each person was, but other chapters, I felt lost because the women weren’t different enough from one another for me to remember who was who all the time. It was definitely an interesting story though!

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Charlotte! I appreciate you taking the time to comment even though historical fiction isn’t always your thing 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Even if you wouldn’t usually go for a fictionalized version of this story, I think you might like this one. It was a great way to learn about a new part of history and the challenges these women actually overcame were very inspiring.

    • DoingDewey

      Women in history are almost always a must read for me, and while I was a bit burnt out on WWII books for a while, I think it’s a topic I’m ready to dive back into 🙂 I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

  1. Lindsey

    I think we tend to forget that there are many cultural differences between the US and England. After all, we speak the same language (mostly) . This sounds like a great nonfiction choice for a reader who loves romance!

    • DoingDewey

      I was very surprised by the number of funny mix-ups which happened because of language differences! I love finding nonfiction like this which seems like an obvious choice for fiction readers of a particular genre. I know some nonfiction can be dry, but I think everyone could like it if they just found the right book 🙂

  2. trish

    Stories like this really bring history to life! I remember history so much better when I have a story to connect it to!

    • DoingDewey

      Me too! I feel like some fiction can also serve that purpose, like The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and Three Souls. I love learning about history through stories 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Me too! A lot of times, looking at the titles, I expect these books to focus on the women’s relationship with men. While that was definitely the focal point of the story here, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the author highlighted the challenges the women overcame. Even though I didn’t think their personalities were brought to life here, I did come away very impressed by each of them.