In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: October 28, 2014 by Penguin Group
I received an advanced readers copy from Penguin Group via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! This appears to be a re-release of the title as Edelweiss has the publication date as October 28, 2014 but earlier dates are indicated on Goodreads.
I was drawn to this book for three reasons. The first was because of the author. I have read two other books by Moyes that I adored and have all of her other books on my "to-read" list. The second reason is because I love historical fiction particularly stories surrounding both World Wars. Although this book takes place in 1946 just after the second World War it still qualifies. I have read hundreds of books related to the war but this is the first one for me that is about the war brides of that time. The third reason is because I have heard my husband tell the story of his Grandmother being a war bride numerous times. The circumstances were a little different, she travelled by ship from Britain to Canada with an infant to an unknown future but the premise is the same.
This book tells the story of war brides from Australia who embark on a journey aboard the HMS Victoria to England to reunite and begin their new lives with their husbands. 650 woman board the ship filled with hope, uncertainty and fear. They are all heading to a new and unfamiliar place to be with the men they married during the war, many of whom never had the chance to spend much time at all with their new husbands. The Victoria is not the usual passenger ship either. It is an old war ship, an air craft carrier, that has been altered to accommodate these woman that still has its crew of naval officers and men.
The story centers around four of the 650 brides that share accommodations and tells of their struggles both past and present as the story unfolds. There is Margaret the pregnant farm girl, Avice the snobby socialite, Jean the young and energetic girl and Frances the quiet and mysterious nurse. I enjoyed getting to know all four characters but I have to admit that Margaret and Frances were my two favourite. I was most anxious to know Frances' story and find out what she was hiding. On top of these four woman we also get inside the head of the Captain and the Marine that is stationed outside their door.
I was captivated throughout their entire journey. So many things happen on board the HMS Victoria from betrayals, stow away dogs, rape, miscarriage, fire, "not wanted don't come telegrams" and attraction to name just a few. It felt like I was on the ship along with all the other brides. Moyes writing style and story telling had me lost deep within the pages. Being an avid cruiser I was particularly interested in the life on board the ship and found myself comparing the luxuries in which I am accustomed to the not so luxurious accommodations that the brides had on their journey. Also I really enjoyed reading about the socially acceptable behaviour of that time. The things that a bride could be shames for are so different from our time now.
When I really enjoy a book I could go on and on so I will stop myself here. All I can say is that I loved this book and can add it to my growing list of JoJo Moyes books that I adore. If you are a fan of historical fiction then I encourage you to embark on the HMS Victoria and sail the seas with these brides. You won't be disappointed. It is truly a wonderful story.
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