GI Brides

Written by Duncan Barrett Nuala Calvi
Review by Helene C. Williams

Tens of thousands of British women married American GIs during World War II; this book traces the lives and loves of four of them. Chapters rotate between the women—Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Gwendolyn (first known as Gwen, then as Lyn)—perhaps in an effort to keep the stories on a similar timeline: during the war, just after the war, traveling to America, settling in (or not) to life in the United States. The jumping around makes it difficult to keep track of the names and contexts, especially when not all the women are included in every rotation. This quick read offers interesting insights into the lives of young British women during the war, and their perspectives on American life (before and after arriving) are valuable. All had to learn some difficult life lessons, and readers repeatedly see that love fanned by the flames of war can be nearly impossible to keep lit during more mundane times. The writing is uneven, partly a reflection of the oral histories on which the book is based; the number of dangling participles and unclear sentences will be distracting to many readers. The lack of documentation or supplemental reading list is also regrettable.