I read The Ship of Brides while I wait out my library’s wait-lit for Jojo Moyes’ Me After You. As I have said numerous times this year, reading a new favorite author’s first few books is not always successful; although this was better than Moriarty’s Hypnotist’s Love Story.
The Ship of Brides begins in Australia after World War II. Hundreds of British and American soldiers stationed in Australia met and married Australian girls; now that the war is over these new brides must make the journey to their husband’s home to start new lives. Over 600 women board the HMS Victoria, an aircraft liner, along with thousands of naval officers on a six week journey to England. Our story focuses on four women who share a cabin on the Victoria, one of whom comes across the Victoria at the beginning of the novel as an old woman- which causes her to reminisce.
Margaret is a farm girl who has been taking care of her father and brothers since her mother is no longer with them; she is making the journey while heavily pregnant. Jean is a sixteen-year-old bride who makes crass jokes and can’t read; she makes some bad decisions along the journey that cause division in the ship’s cabin. Avice is a society girl who married after a two day engagement and guilt on losing her virginity prior to matrimony. She looks down on her cabin mates and tries to get in with a better social circle on board; she is instantly unlikable. Frances is a former nurse who married a patient of her’s during the war. She has a haunting past that catches up with her on the voyage as well as a harmless flirtation with the marine who guards the cabins.
Brides took me a few days to really get invested in. It wasn’t until one of the main characters was sent a telegram reading “Not Wanted Don’t Come” that the pacing picked up and the read became a bit more interesting.
I checked The Ship of Brides out based solely on the author and didn’t even read the back cover for a description (which is always interesting); if I had the old woman’s identity would have been instantly revealed. I am actually glad I didn’t read the back cover because not knowing right away who our grandma was made the various back stories and histories more intriguing; although guessing the narrator wasn’t difficult.
While this wasn’t my favorite Moyes’ novel it was a good place holder while I wait for her next book.