Next To Love by Ellen Feldman (Picador) ISBN: 9780330544504
After her success with Scottsboro, shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and The Boy who Loved Anne Frank, Feldman has written a story about three friends, Babe, Millie and Grace, in a small city in Massachusetts.
It starts in a promising way when Babe, working as a telegraph operator in 1944 is the first one to know who in town has lost a husband, father, or son. For the three friends the war is an end and a beginning in their lives.
The viewpoint alternates between the three women, but Babe was the central figure for me. She is in many ways an outsider, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Each character struggles with different issues in the following twenty years.
The plot is influenced by the political and economic atmosphere of the time, but I did not feel connected to the characters. Points in history that interest me are just mentioned in the side-line. I would have liked to know less about Grace and Millie and more about the black domestic worker Naomi and her son who is involved in the civil right movement.