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Book Tour: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman + a giveaway! (...and a Shirley Temple)

Author: Ellen Feldman
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Source: TLC Book Tours
soft cover: 320 pages

My Thoughts/Summary/Review: This is the story of three women in a small town who have been friends since grade school.  This book spans 23 years of their lives (1941-1964), with memories of earlier years included.  Set during World War II, themes of war, sex, relationships, loss of innocence, grief, depression, hope, and love are woven together seamlessly...and realistically.  Babe, Grace, and Millie and watch as the boys they love go off to fight a war that nobody understands.  Only Babe has a man return to her.  A changed man.  A man she loves, but no longer knows.  War raped her of her innocence and stripped Claude of his.  Which is harder: losing the husband (and father your child never even knew) you planned to grow old with...or having him return a stranger?  Next to Love explores the evolving relationships of these women as they deal with life in their own ways.  Babe speaks her mind.  Grace gets lost in grief.  Millie moves on and closes the book on the past.  These different women and their entwined lives run the gamut of friendship: jealousy, resentment, joy, sharing, supporting...accepting.

While not a foodie book, there are some foodie moments.  Claude urges Babe to "get a hobby" other than him. She picks up the Le Cordon Bleu Cookbook and sets to it (with mention of one of my all-time favorite things... Béarnaise).  Grace makes peach pies and hosts cookouts.  Cocktails are abundant.  Young Amy is enamored by her first Shirley Temple when at a restaurant with Grace and Morris.
I found Next to Love heart-wrenching.  My husband caught me wiping tears from my cheeks a few times while I was reading.  The relationships, feelings, and actions were all realistic.  I knew I wouldn't be able to put this touching book down from the opening thoughts when Babe "learns the dirty little secret of war...".  And I was right.  In this story set years before my own birth...yet so similar to present day...I was carried away.  The final words caused my heart to twist with a sentiment uttered in wonder. 

"If there were no war?" he repeats.  "Imagine."

Shirley Temple
my version...probably pretty close to the original, but not entirely sure...this is the way I've always made one.  Kids LOOOOVE getting this drink, especially in a tall glass along side the adults cocktails.

Fill a glass ¾ full with ice.  Squeeze about a quarter of an orange over the ice.  Pour in a good slug of grenadine (or some juice from a jar of maraschino cherries, if you don't have any grenadine). Throw a few maraschino cherries in the glass.  Top off with Lemon-Lime soda.  Garnish with an orange slice.

The publisher has generously offered to send one reader (USA or Canada mailing address only) a copy of Next to Love.  
To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know you'd like to win a copy of this book. Please be sure that I have some way of contacting you, should you win.  Good Luck. All entries due by July 24th at 11:59 pm (Eastern).
This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to the winner:

I hope you enjoy it, Kim!
*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.
follow the tour: