My fascination with the roaring twenties continues this week with my thoughts on Spare Brides by Adele Parks. I was a bit late to the party in discovering Adele Parks, but after meeting her last year at the first Glamour book club, I quickly played catch up and have found for myself what a brilliant author she is. When I heard she had written a hist-fic novel, it was on the top of my shopping list!
Spare Brides is the intertwined stories of four very different women in the aftermath of World War One. Sarah sadly lost her husband in the war and was left with her two children as well as the care of a disabled brother, while her sister Beatrice has the lonely loss of never having had a man to love in the first place.
Their friend Lydia seemingly has it all with a secure status in society and a husband whose desk job kept him safe, although this is an unrelenting source of shame for her.
And then there is the beautiful Ava; single by choice, with new family money to keep in her fashion, champagne and male attention to her heart’s content, even if she does have bigger plans to save the world, one woman at a time.
I loved each and every story line in this book; each character illustrates a different facet of the war and it was so fascinating to see how each of their individual situations also affected each other. In a time of such dramatic social change, I loved the themes that the novel explored, including women in the workplace, marriage and adultery, high society and post-war poverty.
As well as the absorbing historical and social subtexts, there is plenty of drama and romance. The lavishness of the society that the women are stationed in is lusciously described; from the stately homes and swanky nightclubs, to the glittering fashions and exclusive soirées.
I cwouldn'teven choose a favourite of the women; each of them had a characteristic that I was drawn to and I cared for all of them. Every character was well written and played their part in the novel as whole. Good strong characters, with interesting stories to tell in a fascinating and changeable period in time, really made this a fantastic read for me. I was addicted to this stunning read and I hope that there is more in the way of historical fiction to come from the fabulous Adele Parks.