The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Ship of Brides

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When I was a young girl there lived next to us a wonderful family. Josephine and Eddie were married when he was a soldier serving in Australia. Josephine always referred to herself as a “war bride”. So when I saw The Ship of Brides (B) by Jojo Moyes at the library I had to read it. I wish, now, that I were still in contact with Josephine because after reading this book I have a million questions.

The Ship of Brides follows several young “war brides” as they travel to England to begin life with their husbands. As you can imagine many of these women were very young and had never even left their villages or families before. Now, they are traveling on a former military ship away from all they know.

The main characters Margaret, Avice, Frances and Jean all have their own story. Their backgrounds and love stories are all different. Margaret is pregnant and left her father and brothers soon after her mother left them. Avice reared in a wealthy family of many privileges discovers she is pregnant too. The journey for her is almost unbearable as conditions are not at all what she expected. Jean, the youngest of the lot, is rather wild and crazy. Soon enough, she finds herself in a compromising situation that ultimately has her removed from the ship. However, it is Frances who holds the biggest secrets. Though she has been an exemplary nurse; her past has followed her on board and threatens to destroy her.

I enjoyed this novel very much even though there were times were it seemed to slow to a crawl. The characters were so engaging that I needed to complete the voyage with them and so I plugged along, page by page. Ultimately I am glad that I did. I particularly enjoyed that every chapter has a headline of an excerpt from a newspaper clipping or article about the conditions and circumstances that the brides endured. I encourage you to give The Ship of Brides a try especially if you have known a “war bride” too.

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