Thursday, September 25, 2014

GI Brides - Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

The subtitle of GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love.

Over one million American GI's 'invaded' England during the Second World War . And by the end of the war, over 70,000 women had married American servicemen and headed to the United States to start a new chapter in their lives.

Barrett and Calvi's book documents the lives of four of these women - Sylvia, Gwendolyn, Rae and Margaret, from the early days of the war, to meeting their husbands and finally their experiences over the pond. The narrative rotates through each woman's story in alternating chapters. It's absolutely fascinating reading and I was hard pressed to put it down.

The time period is explored and relived through each woman's memories. Historical references are made to actual events and attitudes of the time, but the focus of  GI Brides is personal and intimate. Although falling in love with a dashing young military man and crossing the ocean to a new country had the feeling of a romantic fairy tale, what these women actually experienced was not. Now, this was not necessarily the case for all GI Brides. The authors do mention that they "needed stories that really stood out - where the women had faced adversity and grown as a result."

There are over forty pictures included in the book, that I found myself looking at almost every time I finished a chapter - gazing at a black and white photo of years gone by and contemplating the direction their lives took.

I am captured by memoirs - even more so in this case. These women persevered and soldiered on - "We're British, we can stand anything. Those simple words brought great solace and support to a group of women building lives far from family and home."

It was only while reading the authors' notes at the end of the book that I discovered that Nuala Calvi is the granddaughter of Margaret, lending a very personal note to the book.

GI Brides reads almost like fiction - anyone enjoying this time period and a look at real lives lived would absolutely enjoy this book. Read an excerpt of GI Brides.

"Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi are the bestselling authors of The Sugar Girls, which chronicled the stories of young women working in Tate and Lyle’s factories in the East End of London. Duncan studied English at Cambridge and now works as writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir. Nuala is a writer and journalist. She trained at London College of Printing and has written for The Times, The Independent, the BBC, CNN and numerous Time Out books." You can find the authors on Facebook , on Twitter and on their blog.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.


Mystica said...

Sounds like a good one.

bermudaonion said...

My parents were very close to a couple like that so I'm looking forward to this book.

trish said...

How cool that researching her grandmother's history took her in the direction of writing a book. I'd say her grandma must be proud!

Thanks for being on the tour!