Book Review: The GI Bride by Iris Jones Semantel

the gI bride coverTitle : The GI Bride

Author : Iris Jones Semantel
Publication date : 09 May 2013
Publisher : Penguin 
Purchase eBook: Kindle
Purchase paper book: AmazonWaterstones
Rating : 4 out of 5 LeeLee’s!

Discover the remarkable memoir by “GI Bride” and bestselling author Iris Jones Simantel. Iris had escaped the Blitz but now lived in crippling poverty after the war – until a chance meeting changed her life. Aged just sixteen, she fell in love and married US soldier Bob Irvine. And soon after she set sail for a new life in America. It was the 1950s, the land of hope, dreams and Doris Day movies. But Iris ended up in a cramped Chicago bungalow, shared with Bob’s parents. With a baby on the way and a husband turning daily into a stranger, Iris was wracked by homesickness. Trapped and desperately lonely, she had to make a fresh start, in a country where hope and opportunity thrived. In this dramatic sequel to the “Sunday Times” bestseller, “Far From the East End”, we follow young Iris Jones Simantel from London to New York, Chicago and Las Vegas in her struggle to find work, love and a sense of belonging in a foreign land. Iris Simantel is the acclaimed winner of the “Saga Magazine” ‘Life Story’ competition, beating several thousand entries to publish her first memoir “Far From the East End”. Iris grew up in Dagenham and South Oxhey (with an evacuation to Wales in between) before marrying her GI husband Bob and moving to Chicago. She now resides in Devon where she enjoys writing as a pastime.

My Thoughts

This is a book that gave me a real insight into what life was like in 1950’s London and America, having been born in 1989 and only just scraping by the title of being an 80’s kid I actually wasn’t aware of what a GI bride really was.  GI stands for either Government Issue or General Issue and GI bride refers to the latter, it’s British brides of American servicemen during the war.

Not many books I have read are true accounts of a person’s life; those that I have read haven’t been as interesting as this one. Iris Jones Simantel was the Saga Magazine life story competition winner and her debut novel Far from the East End tells the story of her growing up as a child and being an evacuee, this book however is about her adult life and follows a 16 year old Iris on her journey over seas (being very sea sick) to America with her new husband and starting a new life.

As somebody who was born and raised in the British Army family I imagined she would move to America and live on a camp/base and live the life of a Military wife. What I hadn’t realised was that many of the soldiers had only been enlisted for the war, I don’t think they had a choice at the time. So upon their return home they were no longer soldiers and went on to live their previous civilian lives. This meant Iris had to move into the family home of her new husband living with the in-laws who didn’t seem to care about her while she had just left her family and friends, it was tough and she went through a lot.

With multiple marriages and divorces, being beaten, dealing with drunks and having two children to raise life wasn’t a fairly tale, but it wasn’t all bad either as Iris had may good friends who helped her.

Overall this is a good read and enough to keep the reader engaged as you follow Iris on her journey you may stop to realise how easy things are for us today. I’d actually like to know what happened next!

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