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GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love

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Overview

They left everything behind to follow their hearts. . . . True stories that illuminate the experiences of British war brides in America after World War II

American soldiers stationed in the UK came away winning more than just a war, they also won the hearts of young women across Britain. At the end of World War II, more than 70,000 GI brides followed the men they'd married—men they barely knew—to begin a new ...

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GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love

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Overview

They left everything behind to follow their hearts. . . . True stories that illuminate the experiences of British war brides in America after World War II

American soldiers stationed in the UK came away winning more than just a war, they also won the hearts of young women across Britain. At the end of World War II, more than 70,000 GI brides followed the men they'd married—men they barely knew—to begin a new life in the United States. Meet four of these women:

Sylvia Bradley, a loyal, bright-eyed optimist
Rae Brewer, a resourceful, quick-witted tomboy
Margaret Boyle, an English beauty who faced down every challenge
Gwendolyn Rowe, a brave woman ahead of her time

Though all made the bold choice to leave family and the world they knew, the journey each experienced was unique—ranging from romantic to heartbreaking.

Fascinating and unforgettable, GI Brides pays homage to these brave women, propelled by love and hope, who embarked on an adventure that would change their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Daily Mail (London)
“Beautifully rounded portraits … delightful and touching.”
The Londonist
“This is a treasure box of testimonies from a very different world, and one that will soon slip from living memory. Kudos to the authors for capturing these memories for posterity, and in such a readable, touching way.”
Jacqueline Winspear
Much has been written about the British “G.I. Brides” of World War II, but perhaps never before with such honesty, compassion, emotional insight and intimacy. I loved this book, and once picked up, it was really hard to put down.
Erika Robuck
“GI BRIDES includes two authors, four women, and the countless trials and triumphs of wartime romance. Nuala Calvi and Duncan Barrett deftly portray love and heartbreak in riveting narratives that consume the reader from the opening paragraph to the last perfect sentence.”
Marjorie Hart
Heartbreaking yet tender, these British wartime brides face the high cost of marrying GIs they scarcely know and courageously reclaim their lives a thousand miles from home and family. Rich in historical detail and masterfully researched
Hazel Gaynor
Truly fascinating insight into the experiences of the war brides; remarkable women whose lives were transformed by war and the American GIs who stole their hearts.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-10
The love stories of four British women who married American soldiers.When American soldiers flooded the streets of London and the surrounding English countryside during World War II, British girls were swept off their feet. Barrett and Calvi (The Sugar Girls, 2012, etc.) bring together the stories of four war brides—Sylvia, Gwendolyn, Rae and Margaret—who fell in love with these men in uniform. Little did they know how much their lives would change once the war was over or that they were expected to live in America with their new husbands, far from the land and culture with which they were familiar. The authors' prose is saturated with details of life during and after the war, which brings readers into that era, when the chance to live in America meant a house of one's own, modern conveniences and affluence. For each of these four women, the American dream didn't necessarily turn out to be glamorous. One struggled to raise her children on mere pennies while her husband spent all his wages on alcohol, and another faced skepticism from her husband's family as to whether she was a suitable bride. When surrounded by a group of strangers, another longed for home, where she felt understood—not like in America, where "these people had no idea who she was or what she had been through." Another battled against her husband's gambling addiction. But despite their hardships, these women soldiered on and tried to make the best of their situations. Alternating among the women, the authors bring to light the joys and sorrows of each woman, but readers may find it easier to read each story in its entirety before switching to another one. Entertaining stories about four women who embraced life with American soldiers after the end of World War II.
Library Journal
09/15/2014
After the end of World War II, an estimated 70,000 British women migrated to the United States to marry soldiers they met during the conflict. Although their experiences varied, all the women shared the task of adapting to a new country without the benefit of family and friends. Nearly 70 years after the initial arrival of the women, coauthors Barrett and Calvi (Sugar Girls) reunited to compile the accounts of 60 brides throughout the States. The result of their efforts is an archive that provides access to some of the oral histories collected (available online at gibrides.com), as well as contemporary stories of four GI brides. Their narratives illuminate the challenges faced by these women along with the ups and downs of their experiences during and after the war. VERDICT While serious scholars might prefer Jenel Virden's well-documented and more analytical Good-Bye, Piccadilly: British War Brides in America, most readers will find this chronicle an entertaining vehicle for learning about the British GI brides' experiences.—Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. Lib., PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062328052
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 56,361
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi are the bestselling authors of GI Brides and The Sugar Girls. Duncan studied English at Cambridge and now works as a 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. They both live in London.

Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi are the bestselling authors of GI Brides and The Sugar Girls. Duncan studied English at Cambridge and now works as a 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. They both live in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Bought it

    My mother was a war bride. It was only after my dad died that mom talked about comming to america. She was very homesick but being in Washington state it was to far to go back. My parents were married sixty years they were happy together. Now at 98 yrs she is not able to care for herself, in her head and heart she is in England. Its all ok,it was there she was young beautiful and met her "yank" I have all their letters written in 41 through 46 when they married. Loved this book.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The subtitle of GI Brides by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is:

    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

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2014

    World War II, woman¿s side of the story, and romance¿what more c

    World War II, woman’s side of the story, and romance…what more can I ask for?   Absolutely nothing!  This is the perfect book for me.    The setting is my all time favorite.   I love hearing about the war time struggles and happenings from the woman’s point of view.   Romance, my favorite to read.   




    GI Brides was a little different that the normal WW II books I have read.   This was told from woman from across the ocean.    It is told by women who fell in love with US Military Men.    Each woman had a different story to share.   Starting with how they met their men, how they fell in love, and what they found when they finally made it to the US as new brides from a foreign country.  




    Each woman shared the story of language issues, some of which made me giggle, not so friendly US families, babies, alcohol abuse, gamble issues, and sickness.   Even with all these struggles the women in this story were able to be strong and do what needed to be done to make happy and successful lives.     I enjoyed that this was not just a happy every after story.  It was a real story about real women who lived what some could call a tough life and came out on top.




    For everyone who loves the WW II era this is the book for you.   It is definitely one of my top books from this era.   I highly recommend it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2014

    What a depressing book! The authors say they interviewed 60 brid

    What a depressing book! The authors say they interviewed 60 brides for the book, a very small sampling but understandable due to the fact that many of the brides are probably dead by now. I guess happy stories of GI brides (I'm sure such stories exist; I have known two war brides and both were very happily married) would not make such good copy,  but this book gives a unbalanced view of the GI's and their brides. When the relationships fail, it is always the fault of the American male. As I said, very depressing and, I believe, unbalanced.    

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2014

    Loved this book. Highly recommend!

    Loved reading each life story. It did not sugar coat their lives. I was very impress with the tough fiber each bride had to overcome problems. Highly recommend! Another great book on the NOOK is the novel - The Partisan by William Jarvis. It too takes place during WWII. It has strong female figures. It is based on actual events durng this time. It just won an Indie Medalian Award. Both books deserve A+++++++++

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2014

    One didnt just get married and get out of war zone to safety and good life. There were always marriages in other countries

    France Germany Italy and Japan some were refused visas often from both sides and in some cases refusal to accept marriage as legal. more unfortunate were often the mixed race or religion when both countries and both parents didnt approve. The culture shock is just as difficult for anyone who goes from farm to city or city to farm rich to poor poor to rich from blue collar to university intellectuals and you dont have to be a war bride. Interest on this should have been four successful marriages with the greatest diversity in cast and culture. If canadian marrying english little interest as is g i marrying english need different country and language for interest

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2014

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book, definitly would recommend this book.

    Having worked with a GI bride for ten years, I was very interested in reading about what these young women experienced during the war and how much courage it took to leave their families and their country behind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2014

    Very interesting

    Being a child of an English war bride, I found this book very interesting. Many of the details brought back memories of events and stories that my parents had talked about. My mother brought me to the states at 11 months of age to meet a family who were total strangers to her. Her twin sister also married a GI and came to the US. Several years later my grandparents and their youngest daughter came here to live as well.
    Both of my parents are still living and proof that true love did happen as the result of an American stationed in England during WW2.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2014

    Fascinating

    Easy to follow and really interesting insight into the lives of these women

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2014

    a

    - --mkKaqKaaa1M-aiQI'd ~( {aamqqi1 qba aqKAQkqmiukAo

    0 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2014

    Easy read

    Entertaining ...... Insightful

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    Posted November 26, 2014

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    Posted November 15, 2014

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    Posted December 6, 2014

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    Posted September 17, 2014

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    Posted November 16, 2014

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