The book that brings me back is a wonderful read courtesy of Book Club Girls, a program for book clubs from Harper Collins. You had to sign up forever ago, but if you have a book club and they allow more people to sign up I definitely recommend it!
Anyway, here is the book:
GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi. I rated it 4 stars.
This book depicts the real stories of four British women who fell in love with American GIs during WW2 and followed them to America after the war ended. Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Lyn are all remarkable women who survived a crushing Blitz in London, and then went and uprooted themselves to a completely alien world (yes, the United States is very different from England even though we speak the same language). One ends up in California, one Baltimore, one Georgia, and the other Iowa. Their stories are tales of hope, happiness, despair, frustration, and a wide range of other human emotions.One finds it difficult to understand the sometimes oppressive togetherness of a big Italian American family, and on top of that, develops a crushing illness. Another discovers that her new husband's family, and her new husband, are addicted to gambling. But there are definitely some silver linings here, amongst the struggles babies are born, new families are created, and new homes are made.
Although their stories are different, they all came together through GI bride organizations to create a community of friendship and support. I loved reading their stories, sharing their struggles, and rejoicing in their triumphs. This is one of the best books I've read focusing on WW2 because of its easy, narrative writing style and unique focus on an aspect that is somewhat less depressing than most depictions of the War. I really enjoyed seeing the war and what followed from this perspective.
I couldn't let you go without a little history lesson, now could I?
The Blitz (1940-41) was a period of intense heavy bombing of the United Kingdom by the Germans. London itself was attacked 71 times during this period with several terrifying explosives that devastated the area and killed more than 40,000 people, half of which were from London alone. The Americans, when they joined the war effort in 1941, stationed themselves in London in preparation for the fateful D-Day attack on Normandy. This attack took more than 4,000 Allied lives, man American and British, but is considered a pivotal turning point for the end of the war.
Living in such close quarters for so long naturally led to a bit of romance among American GIs and their hosts. Not limited to England, there were war relationships springing up from Germany to Japan. These women hitched their stars on love and made the bold leap forward to join them in America, although the process of delivering the brides was quite lengthy. This upheaval led to a quite diverse Baby Boom in America, again mixing more cultures into the great melting pot that is the United States. It is amazing to hear about the individual stories that make our society and culture what they are today.
You want more?
Of course you do. If this book interests you, you may want to try The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, or watch Call the Midwife on PBS (there are books based on this series as well). There are countless numbers of World War II stories out there in every genre, which is a testament to how profound the impact of that war was to an entire generation worldwide.