Title: The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London
Author: Penrose Halson
Genre/Audience: Non-fiction, adult
Publication: William Morrow, 2017
Source: For review, TLC Book Tours
The Marriage Bureau tells the story of two young women during the WWII era who set up a matchmaking agency in London. At the time, it was a unique business and essentially worked the same way that online dating works today. The bureau immediately took off, with people lining up at their door to register and find their perfect match. While they sometimes failed horribly with their matches, they often helped people truly find love and marriage with their flourishing business.
This story was cute, quick, and light, which is almost never the case when you’re reading about life during WWII. I enjoyed seeing this lighter, positive side of such a memorable and scary time. Heather and Mary, the matchmakers, were lively and fun ladies to read about, and quite ahead of their time with their ideas. The book contained mainly stories of different couples they matched and people who signed up for the bureau.
I will say that this book often felt more like a novel than a historical account. The dialogue sometimes seemed unrealistic and I found myself wondering what parts of the story were historically accurate vs. what parts may have been embellished or fabricated to help bring the story to life. It does state that the author drew from documents, articles, ads, and more to recreate the story, so I think that she certainly pieced together the research as best she could and I appreciate that effort. Some people may actually enjoy the fact that the story seems more like a novel than nonfiction because it helps to create more of a flow, but I thought that at times, it was lacking some of the historical information I wanted to know about. This is just something for you to keep in mind as you read!
All in all, the stories contained within were entertaining and some even uplifting. I’m definitely interested in researching this bureau some more because it was such a forward thinking and novel idea at the time and I was happy to be introduced to it through this book. An interesting and one of a kind true tale!