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The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham - Review

Friday, October 19, 2018

Let me tell you about this book. It's a reread, which is unusual for me. I had put off rereading it in case it didn't live up to how great I remembered it being. But I'm glad to say it did live up to it, and I'm so glad I read it again because I really love it.

It must have been 2002 or 2003 and I went to visit my aunt in Surrey, and crossed London via Tube to get to Waterloo station. On the tube I saw a woman reading this book and I was intrigued by the cover. A couple of weeks later I went on holiday and saw the book in the airport for sale, so bought it and read it.

At uni I lived with a girl called Katie, who is still a friend of mine, and she and her mum had really similar taste in books to me, so I took this and lent it to them. Katie's mum bought lots of books and we had a whole cupboard full in our house. I remember this really fondly as I didn't read much as a teenager (I was too into music and just read Kerrang and the NME) but had fallen in love with reading at university. I'm pretty sure I spent most of my first year curled up in bed reading a novel.

I remembered this being good, and I remembered some of the basic storyline, but I didn't remembers the ins and outs. Then last week I heard that there's now a sequel, called The Early Birds, so I immediately ordered it. I thought I'd better reread this in order to know the story before I read the sequel, but like I say I was slightly cautious because I wanted it to be as good as I remembered!

The story concerns six women. Five of them are Americans, and all married to airmen, and are all living in England, in Norfolk, at the airbase there. There's Lois, from NY, married to Herb. There's Gayle, younger than the others, married to Okey. There's Betty, Ms Homemaker herself, married to Ed. There's Audrey, who has ambitions of her husband Lance climbing the ladder, and finally there's Peggy, our narrator, who's married to Vern. Peggy and Betty were at school together in Texas and they've met the others along the way. It's the early 1950s and King George VI dies, so Betty makes the five of them and their kids go to see his funeral train pass close by. While there, they meet Kath, Norfolk born and bred, and make friends with her.

The novel then takes us through the next forty years of these women's lives. Through phone calls and letters and visits, we see them have children and grandchildren, get divorced, leave the military, get jobs, have careers, and so on and so forth. The book is written in a really chatty way which draws you in while the action dances around. We see pivotal points in history, like the death of John F Kennedy and the first man on the moon. We uncover secrets and make our own assumptions about the people Peggy describes. It's laugh out loud funny at times, and it's always pithy and often moving. I am so glad that I still absolutely loved it and I've recommended it to a few more friends. I am so excited to read the sequel now!

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