The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London

Written by Penrose Halson
Review by Wendy Zollo

The Marriage Bureau takes on the journey of Audrey Pearson and Heather Jenner, bored and unfulfilled by mundane jobs in 1939 wartime London, who with moxie and ingenuity established a dating service initially meant to meet the needs of lonely soldiers and women of the era looking for love and security. However, The Bureau expanded to be so much more when their platform unexpectedly took off. It met the needs of the widowed, stubbornly single, and people’s curious circumstances. Compared to the surveys, forms and data we’re used to today, The Bureau’s methods were invested in Pearson’s and Jenner’s formative opinions, based on the oddities of class, dress, and money. The resulting stories are charming, sad and quite humorous.

The Marriage Bureau is based in fact on the actual Bureau. It doesn’t offer much in comparing the contemporary services available (they are at best fleetingly mentioned) as the Bureau evolved over more than a decade. This could have added more depth. Still, all told, this is a worthy story filled with memorable characters, views, and bygone beliefs. A genuinely lovely read.