Published: February 2014
Publisher: Headline Review
Source: Library Copy
Spare Brides is Adele Parks’ first historical novel and as I have read most of her other novels I was keen to see how this one measured up. It doesn’t disappoint, she has really captured the essence of the 1920s through the eyes of four young ladies in their twenties. The story follows the women as their lives change in the year of 1921.
Firstly there is Lydia; she has been married to her husband Lord Lawrence Chatfield for eight years. She has wealth, beauty and her husband spent the war safely behind a desk, so to the others she appears to be the lucky one. Lydia feels anything but lucky; she is longing for a baby and has been to countless doctors but has so far no success. She is also trying to come to terms with the guilt she is feeling towards her husband not serving on the battlefield. When she meets Edgar Trent the handsome war hero, Lydia is instantly drawn to him and time with him helps her to escape her feelings of failure, guilt and resentment.
Sarah has lost her beloved husband Arthur and is coming to terms with her loss and the probability that she will spend the rest of her life as a widow. Her sister Beatrice is twenty six and has never had a man of her own, she is fairly plain and so finding a man was hard before, almost impossible now that the War has taken most of them. She is longing to find her place in the world. Ava is single and enjoying not being tied to any one man, she spent the war being employed and is now looking for something to fill her time and occupy her mind.
Even though we experience the story through the eyes of all four girls I felt that this book was too heavily focused on Lydia’s story, which although I enjoyed I wanted more on how the lives of Ava, Sarah and Beatrice were changing. The changing circumstances for Beatrice interested me the most as I really felt sad for her and would have like to have known she was happy in her new situation.
I loved the way that Adele Parks has managed to write four women who are believable and are struggling with feelings which I’m sure many women at the time had. I think her portrayal of the men in the book was well handled, showing the emotional scaring which the war left behind on even the physically strongest men.
Although I don’t think this is her best novel it is still a brilliant read and I would recommend to anyone who wants a good novel set in the 1920s or something which examines friendship through changing circumstances. I hope that this is not the last historical novel which Adele Parks writes as I think the book was well researched and showed a true life representation of what these women went through. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.