Monday 13 January 2014

Review: Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Spare Brides by Adele Parks
Publisher: Headline Review  
Release Date: 13 Feb 2014
Rating: *****
Back Cover: (TBC I was sent a proof copy): New Year's Eve, 1920. The Great War is over and it's a new decade of glamour and promise. But a generation of men and women who survived the extreme trauma and tragedy will never be the same. With countless men lost, it seems that only wealth and beauty will secure a husband from the few who returned, but lonely Beatrice has neither attribute. Ava has both, although she sees marriage as a restrictive cage after the freedom war allowed. Sarah paid war's ultimate price: her husband's life. Lydia should be grateful that her own husband's desk job kept him safe, but she only sees his cowardice. A chance encounter for one of these women with a striking yet haunted officer changes everything. In a world altered beyond recognition, where not all scars are visible, this damaged and beautiful group must grasp any happiness they can find-whatever the cost.

Wow. What a novel.

I love historical fiction, and I love Adele Parks, so I was very excited to receive the proof copy of Spare Brides that was very kindly sent to me by Georgina at Headline. I've been eagerly awaiting this novel for a while and I was not disappointed.

I distinctly remember saying after reading 'The State We're In' that it was Parks' best yet. I was wrong. Spare Brides is definitely Adele Parks' best novel to date.

The novel is set in the early 1920's and tells the stories of Lydia (our main protagonist), Ava, Beatrice and Sarah who are all struggling in different ways to cope with the new world that they find themselves in after the war.

Lydia is struggling with with fertility issues, and a husband that she is not even sure that she loves. Ava is adored by literally everyone, but seems to have no sense or purpose. Sarah is happy enough, widowed, lonely and concerned about her friends' well-being, and Beatrice Sarah's sister is desperately lonely. Never the most attractive girl, she is finding it impossible with the shortage of men after the war to find anyone to marry, and fears she will end up an old maid.

The period is something that the author seems to adapt to writing effortlessly, as if she has always written so. In fact, this, is her first foray into historical fiction, but she writes about the period beautifully, describing the stunning gowns, accessories, fine dining and stately homes of the time, without shying away from the devastation that has been caused by the great war and the effect that it will have on the novels characters and their future.

Lydia we meet as she is getting ready to attend a New Year's Eve soiree, her biggest dilemma at the time is what on earth she is going to wear, as the frock that she had ordered from her favourite fashion house has not arrived. In the opening chapters, we see Lydia as wealthy, popular and perhaps a little selfish, certainly not living in the 'real' world. But this changes as the novel progresses, and she meets someone that will turn her life upside down, quite literally.

Her friends are less than encouraging, trying to persuade Lydia away from the temptation that is calling her. But she is not listening. She cannot and will not listen. So they take matters in to their own hands, with shocking and upsetting consequences. They believe they are doing what is right for her. Lydia knows they are wrong, but how can she prove them otherwise?

Well... I'm afraid you'll have to read it for yourselves to find out. I can guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Spare Brides is available from 13th February 2014. 
You can pre-order it now from Amazon and Headline.
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