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Monday, October 06, 2014

The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes (Oct. 28)

The Ship of Brides 

I've only read one other book by Moyes--the deftly handled Me Before You.

The war bride phenomenon is fascinating. Men and women thrown together in circumstances of heightened emotions. Men far from home and grateful for feminine companionship; women falling in love with men they barely know; rushed weddings;  women waiting and hoping their new husbands would survive the brutality of war.  

The Ship of Brides is the story of four Australian brides who are among the 655 women who leave their homes and families in Australia and depart on a six week voyage to join the men (with whom they have spent very little time) and their families in England.  Whatever their reasons, for these young women to leave behind country, family, and friends required courage.  

Moyes did her research, and the Acknowledgements at the beginning of the novel gives a list of the sources she used, including unpublished journals.  The fact that Moyes' grandmother was one of the Australian war brides that embarked on the aircraft carrier the HMS Victorious in 1946 (the same aircraft carrier as the fictitious brides) gives a greater sense of verisimilitude.

The prologue, set in contemporary times, was slow and a bit confusing, and I wondered how it would fit into the book's plot.  However, when the story moved to 1946 and settled down to the individual women, my interest picked up.  

At first, it seems that Maggie is the main protagonist, but that is misleading. Jean and Avice each have an important purpose, but Frances is the key character, a quiet, unassuming nurse whose service in the Pacific theater has shown her the horrors of war.   She also has secrets that she wants to keep hidden.  

The plot moves back and forth in time (but still within the war years), giving up a little about the situations that led the brides to their current situations, yet keeping back all but the whispers of circumstances still undisclosed.  Paul Simon's phrase "hints and allegations" just swept through my head....

I did enjoy the book and the extracts from non-fictional sources even if The Ship of Brides didn't feel as polished or as compelling as Me Before You.   

Read in Aug.;  blog post scheduled for Oct. 6

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Historic Fiction.  2004 (original publ.); Oct. 28, 2014.  Print length:  496 pages.


  1. It sounds then like she's grown as an author, this being one of her earlier works. How fascinating though! I'm curious about this one for the historical aspect even if doesn't seem as polished.

  2. It sounds interesting. I like that time period...and the whole war bride story line. I just wish it wasn't almost 500 pages long! I'm finding too-long novels a bit hard to start at the moment. :) Maybe when life settles down a bit. Great post!

  3. I've not read anything by this author, but I've heard good things about her books. Looks like I've to read "Me Before You" first.

  4. didn't feel as polished or as compelling as Me Before You.

    Hmmm, maybe I should just leave well enough alone and not read any more by Moyes. I loved (LOVED!) Me Before You, but was disappointed with The Girl You Left Behind. This one doesn't sound too promising, either.

  5. Wendy - the fact that her grandmother was a war bride on the HMS Victorious adds to the historical impact.

    Lark - Some long novels move fast enough that they don't feel "too-long," but this one is a bit slow.

    Meloldy - I loved Me Before You!

    Les - It wasn't a bad book, but it didn't live up to my expectations or engage me like Me Before You/

  6. I've heard so many wonderful things about ME BEFORE YOU and I keep meaning to read this author! I actually got a copy of this one as well from ALA--it's good to hear you enjoyed it overall, even if it wasn't quite as polished as MBY. Makes sense since it was published earlier in her career, I guess. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden