Next to Love

  • 2011
  • Spiegel & Grau
Formats
  • Hardcover, Kindle, iBook, paperback, audio
Buy online

"War... next to love, has most captured the world's imagination."

(Eric Partridge, British lexicographer, 1914)

  • Ladies Home Journal Book of the Month
  • An Indie Next Pick
  • Best Winter Reads, The Independent, UK
  • An O Magazine Summer Reading Pick

Set in a small town in Massachusetts, Next to Love follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war. Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.

Reviews and Praise

"Haunting and profoundly moving...Feldman's characters live and love with breathtaking intensity, and her deft juggling of several zigzagging plots makes the pages flow past with the force of a slow but mighty river." Booklist (Starred)

"A lustrous evocation of a stormy period in our past... Feldman's scathing prose intensifies the daily routines of these families and makes readers fearful and worried along with them." Library Journal (Starred)

"Sincere... piercing ...this affecting tribute to the "greatest" generation is elevated by its empathy for the women left behind [and] the ... searching sensitivity of the prose." Kirkus

"Beautifully rendered." Publishers' Weekly

"Disquieting originality...Feldman's specialty is emotional ambivalence...and discernment of the shades of domestic gray...breath-warm, intimate...true music." Times Literary Supplement

"Compelling." Vogue.com

"Feldman manages to cover wide and weighty problems whilst remaining deeply personal and engaging... In fiction it's often better to go narrow and deep rather than wide and shallow, but Feldman manages to go both wide and deep...Can a novel focusing on the lives of three women span as many decades without being reductive? The answer to that is yes, so long as you're in the hands of a writer as skilled as Feldman." The Scotsman (UK)

"Excellent... moving... Feldman explores grand narratives." The Independent (UK)

"Intelligent, elegant and...moving" The Guardian (UK)

"A heartbreaking triptych of people scrambling to cope with life. Moments of emotional wisdom...immerse us...in a moving tale." The Telegraph (UK)

"Deeply moving." The Bookseller (UK)

"A remarkable novel you are unlikely to forget...Tinged with tragedy, yet filled with hope, Next to Love is the story of three women at the heart of the century- a celebration of their friendship across decades of the most unthinkable adversity." Library.com (UK)

"A fine new novel... a wonderful, engrossing read...Feldman has a sure hand when it comes to depicting the harsh realities of the postwar years without resorting to maudlin sentiment." Edmonton Journal

"Remarkable and haunting." Woman and Home (UK)

"Appealing and swiftly moving...The book leaves its mark through careful attention to detail along with a keen tracking of the emotional current that runs through the lives of the characters during and in the wake of World War II... Sketched out over the course of 20-odd years, the book is a sum of scenes artfully sewn together...As a work of faithfully wrought historical fiction, Next to Love feels accurate. As a novel chronicling love, loss, and the passage of time, it feels real." East Hampton Star

"Devastating...Feldman avoids polemic and keeps the issues personal showing how the upheavals affect the trio as they temper idealism with frustrating, heartbreaking reality." Daily Mail (UK)

"Touching...a highly engaging tale of human endurance mingled with human fragility...and the strength and courage derived from female friendship in the face of tragedy." Image Magazine (UK)

"A celebration of friendship, full of tragedy and hope." ASOS Magazine (UK)

"The very thought of covering several decades in a single novel is a prospect that would challenge most authors. Placing those several decades in the intense period between World War II and the war in Vietnam is even more of a daunting proposition. But Ellen Feldman, who's proved her historical novel chops in several previous works, shows readers that she's more than up to the task in Next to Love, a surprisingly intimate novel about the countless ways in which war changes lives." Bookreporter.com (UK)

"Heartbreaking, yet hopeful." Easy Living Magazine (UK)

"Girl power, vintage style." The Sun (UK)

"Beautifully written." BookScan (UK)

"A deftly revealing...portrait of the changing face of America... heartbreaking reality." Marie Claire

"Feldman deftly juggles stories and breathes life into characters...The period details are handled beautifully... an age where instant communication (cell phones, Internet, etc.) did not exist and when lovers wrote their heart out in letters... Feldman's riveting style keeps the reader in a "what's next?" mode...Ultimately, the book is focused on female friendship—at turns, courageous, poignant, and fragile. The friendships are not idealized, but rather portrayed to be sustaining, enduring, and nurturing. At its core, it is about survival through life, love, children, war, grief, and resurgence, delivered with just the right amount of drama and intensity." Mostly Fiction Book Reviews

"An intimate look at how we can be dismantled and rebuilt by changing times." O Magazine, 10 Titles To Pick Up Now

"A powerful, haunting deeply ambitious novel about love and war, impeccably executed, impossible to put down." Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra: A Life

"A remarkable novel." Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain

"There is the touch of Everywoman here." Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany