16. Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Monday 10 February 2014

Spare Brides is a tale based during the aftermath of the First World War, introducing four women who's lives are drastically affected by the chain of events caused by that fateful day in 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.  

On the surface it seems that Lydia has all she could ever want. Her husband, Lawrence survived the war, and became the sole heir to the Clarendon Earldom. She spends her days shopping and socialising, the darling of everyone. She longs for a baby to complete their family, although this has of yet eluded her. Lydia doesn't know it yet, but an innocent encounter in a tea shop will change the course of her life forever.

Headstrong, liberal Ava found independence in supporting the war effort, and reaped the benefits that came her way. She resents being sidelined into to supporting ladies charities where she feels she seldom makes any difference, and where she desperately wants to see a change. One of the nouveau riche, Ava sticks out like a sore thumb in a world of old money, but glitters and seduces her way through society in a way that she can't help but be smiled upon. With a blasé attitude to marriage, she chooses to purse love affairs with married men over settling down. Marriage is a trap she will not slip willingly into.

Beatrice and Sarah did not fare as well as their friends. Sarah lost her husband during the war, and struggles with feeling irrelevant in society now that she is no longer a wife, merely a widow like so many other unfortunate women. She is sidelined to caring for her two children, and helping to care for her brother Samuel who returned from the front half the man he used to be, in more ways than one.

Poor Beatrice has never felt as though she fitted in with her sister and their glamorous friends. The popular styles of the 1920s do nothing but make her feel out of place, with little to no fortune she must continuously alter old, out dates dresses which can never compete with Ava and Lydia's plethora of beautiful gowns or charm. She is constantly overlooked, and her one chance at marriage disappeared over the trenches, lost to a muddy grave. At 26 she is determined not to become an old maid but without fortunes or looks to aid her she is quite hopelessly lost. 

The four women's lives are interwoven by Parks in a mesmerising and ever changing world where not everything is quite as it seems. The world as they know it has changed forever, and Lydia, Ava, Sarah and Beatrice must decide where they fit and where their loyalties lie. With so many twists and turns, Parks is sure to keep you entertained on this journey starting during New Years Eve in 1920, where glamour and damage are irrevocably entwined. 

Parks writes with confidence and grit. Don't take Spare Brides at face value just because of the cover - she challenges the reader to confront the harsh realities of the First World War and how it affected every soul, whether fighting in the trenches or waiting at home for news. The reader can fully step into the shoes of each character, and their lives because the women aren't too dissimilar from us today. There is something relatable in each character - it's almost as though she's taken elements of Sex and the City back to 1920, with all the damaged beauty that came with post war Britain. 

Spare Brides is released Thursday 13th February 2014. 

Rating: 5/5

**I was sent  a copy of Spare Brides in exchange for an honest review**

15. Pleated Skirts and a New Direction

Sunday 9 February 2014

I am making my return to blogging after taking a bit of a break. I started a new job towards the end of last year and things got busy very quickly. I felt I was struggling to keep up with everything going on in my life at the time and unfortunately something had to give - not that I have posted on a regular basis for a while.

I wanted to set myself some goals for 2014 - I don't like the word resolutions because I generally don't stick to them. I wanted my goals to be achievable and enjoyable and not put so much pressure on myself that I end up not wanting to follow through. I want to really enjoy blogging so I am going to combine a few of my interests together here, more so than I have before. That also involved not rushing into posting just any old thing as soon as January started. 
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