From the blurb:
Damaged and beautiful, they were the generation who lost so much and became ‘spare brides’. The richly compelling and emotional new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks is the powerful story of four extraordinary women left to pick up the pieces of their lives, in the scarred, glamorous and endlessly fascinating post-First World War era.
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.
Adele Parks has sent a high standard in her previous books, and this one does not disappoint. This isn’t fluffy, light ‘chicklit’; this is grown-up, thought-provoking, gritty romance.
The writing is enormously well thought out – intelligence, understanding and compassion shine through. In many ways I felt I was reading literary fiction, so well crafted are sentences, paragraphs; so well chosen adjectives and verbs.
The characters are vivid and real, and I felt empathy for each of them. I really admire the fact that none is perfect – Lydia and her ‘haunted officer’, Edgar, in particular, are flawed, to the point that at times I felt dislike for the actions and thoughts of both characters.
The story is not complex, but that allows room for careful exploration of characters’ inner worlds, so the reader really understands the narrative. It’s a well-executed plot, and I love the ending and the courage of each character in choosing the path that’s right for them.
For me, though, what really stands out about the book is its setting. Adele Parks transports the reader to post-World War I England so thoroughly that I found myself quite swept away by the poignancy of the words. In the year of the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, this is not just a diverting romance novel – this is an important book, a book everyone should read to connect to the legacy of that war: the emotional fallout for those who survived, and the social changes wreaked by the conflict.
Powerful, moving writing. Exquisite. Please do read it!
I was offered this book in exchange for a fair review via BookBridgr.
Spare Brides is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.