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The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London
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The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  943 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Alternate cover edition for 9780062562661

A riveting glimpse of life and love during and after World War II—a heart-warming, touching, and thoroughly absorbing true story of a world gone by.

In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny offic
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by William Morrow (first published March 24th 2016)
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May 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, kobo
This is one of those reads that I quickly snapped up during a book sale because of its interesting premise. A nonfiction that reads like fiction due to the author incorporating dialogue in between the historical documents and details. Penrose Halson's introduces us to Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, two British women who decided to open a matchmaking service in 1939 and continued throughout the war. What were women and men looking for in a mate during this time period? Love? Security? Investment ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-release
Entertaining non-fiction that reads as fiction. I liked that it was more of a breezy read and not heavy non-fiction, but the way it was written made me wonder how much was fact and how much was the imagination of the author.
Christina McLain
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a great, fast read about two enterprising young women who started a matchmaking service in 1939 for lonely-hearted British men and women. Their clients ranged from members of the aristocracy to ordinary working class people and the descriptions of some of the matches made are quite entertaining while others are poignant or even tragic. What made the book interesting to me were the sociological issues detailed here. It is sad to note that so many women of this time, young and old, had no ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure of reading this book before it was published! I found it in a charity shop and immediately read it to get the inside scoop on the soon-to-be published book. While the idea of the book is inspired and really fascinating, the style of writing made it seem like a casual, "fly-book" or women's lit book. I wasn't challenged or felt like I really learned anything.

It felt so light that I wasn't really convinced it was 100% true either--which is what I was hoping for. It says non-fic
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-history
I love Social History and looked forward to reading this - I was curious to see how a Marriage Bureau ever got going in 1940s England.
The first part was interesting although I rapidly got tired of being repeatedly told how tall, cool and gorgeously blonde Heather was and how petite, vivacious and dark haired Mary was.
The book then dived into sugary 'lurve' stories which I quickly tired of.
And Penrose Halson certainly loves an adjective! Why use one when you can use at least three??
Sorry, but t
Margaret Gerberding
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting non fiction book about two young women who started a marriage bureau in London in 1939. The bureau lasted into the 1990's, when it merged with another marriage bureau. Full of touching stories of love and hardship during WWII especially. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting subject matter and was intrigued with this book because I had no idea that there was such a real business as this Marriage Bureau. It is a 1930s pre "online dating" concept. But the book was poorly written. It bored me after awhile. ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

Fiction may be the lie that tells the truth, but sometimes that truism runs headlong into another, the one that goes, “The truth is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we CAN imagine.” Fiction has to actually feel plausible, or it turns the willing suspension of disbelief into the unwilling, and bounces the reader out of the story. Nonfiction doesn’t have to be plausible, it just has to be true.

The history of The Marriage Bureau is one of
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brief glimpses of the more interesting clients from the first marriage bureau in England. Some strange, some heartbreaking, lots of happily ever afters, all told with a dry British wit.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as interesting as I thought it would be. The stories often grew tedious.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, true stories of marriage matchmakers in 1940s London. Delightfully grounded in that time and place. A quick, enjoyable read.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fictional from the WWII genre and found The Marriage Bureau a very interesting read ... the original concept of '!' Thank you for the galley! ...more
Debra Schoenberger
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Super interesting and exceedingly entertaining. A bit of British history beginning in 1939 through WWII.
Jane Dugger
Very entertaining; although it was difficult keeping the names straight.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I rarely read non-fiction so I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is written in such a way that I would forget that it was based on a true story, it almost seemed fictionalized which made it so fascinating.

What a crazy idea to set up during WWII, yet at the same time was a genius idea. How else were service men and even women to meet when the men were off fighting the war in abstract locations and the women were working at home. (The bureau was in England). The stories related in this boo
Bonnie Luttkus
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The book chronicles the start of the Marriage Bureau in London before and during WWII. The author describes the business and goes into tale after tale of the various people who used their services to find a spouse. It was very interesting to hear about so many different people and their stories. While it was interesting history, I didn't find it the easiest style to get through, thus the 3 stars. ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Old-timey Tinder. Fun and easy read. Reading about what people wanted in a partner reinforces the notion that marriage is a way to build a more manageable and functional life, not some fairy tale soulmate-finding exercise.
Jessica Howard
This is a super fun, breezy light nonfiction story about the establishment of a London marriage bureau. It was perfect before-bed reading — interesting, but not so interesting as to keep me up too late. 🙂
Jessica (thebluestocking)
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I found this book to be very readable, with an interesting premise. This is a nonfiction account of a matching-making company established in London in 1939. The stories are interesting, but the book as a whole left me wanting something more. The writing was repetitive and confusing at times, and there wasn’t really a thread to pull the whole thing together. It’ll hopefully make for interesting book club discussion, though.
Rachel Wagner
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A charming read that would make a great tv show with each episode being a different match while also telling the story of Heather and Mary running the bureau.
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Who would have thought that two women who simply didn't want to get married themselves would find a way to eke out living just before World War II? Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver both had everything to offer a man who was searching for a wife, both good looks, education and a willing heart for romance, only both of them wanted nothing to do with finding suitable matches for their own hearts, but felt they could match up their friends and family with men they knew overseas that were looking for l ...more
Monique Snyman
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Before Tinder there were the Classifieds, but there were dating services even before then ... Marriages are Made in Bond Street: True Stories from a 1940s Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson is a book that explains how two young women opened a bureau to match people together during mankind's worst war. In a world where death and destruction oppressed society, there was still a shiny beacon of hope, and Penrose Halson did a magnificent job in compiling a story told by one of the founders of Bond St ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Romance, history, matchmaking, humor. It's all there in Penrose Halson's enjoyable account, The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London. Before eHarmony and and Tinder, there was the Marriage Bureau, founded in London by Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver in 1939.

In 1986 author Penrose Hanson took over Katharine Allen Marriage and Advice Bureau in London. It had been founded in 1960, modeled on the Marriage Bureau. In 1992, Heather Jenner's da
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Marriage Bureau is a nonfiction book, written with light-hearted verve, about two women who decided to start a matchmaking service in London in 1939. The idea was proposed by one of the women's uncles, Uncle George. Audrey (who later changed her name to Mary) decided it was a terrific idea because there were so many women like her, alreading declared "on the shelf" in her 20s after failed engagements. She convinced her friend Heather to join her.

The Marriage Bureau describes both the busine
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Marriage Bureau" is the story of two women who start at matchmaking firm in London during World War II. They pledge to make love matches between many people from many different walks of life. They set up their business on Bond Street. This book is billed as being a true story but reads more like a frothy, fun story of two women with a lot of anecdotes about some of the out of the ordinary clients that they serve.

This book definitely reads more like fiction and while the book says that the
Although there were some sad stories in this book, especially during WWII, for the most part this was a fun and fascinating read. Two 24-year-olds start a matchmaking business in the late 1930s; because one is doomed to have to marry someone she probably doesn't love, due to her age, unless she gets a job she can stick with; and one is upper-class, divorced, really has nothing else better to do, and thinks it could be an interesting business. It takes real people skills, as well as a superb memo ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be extremely enjoyable! It is nonfiction but reads easily with lots of stories. I enjoyed the variety of stories and the lens through which the stories were told.
I do wish this would be turned into a television show...I suspect it would be just as enjoyable and endearing as Call the Midwife.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish, dnf
Really wanted to like this but it reads more like a fairy tale than nonfiction. It's disconcerting. ...more
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really liked it. Fun read, and a true story
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before there was E-harmony or Tinder, there was The Marriage Bureau, which is recounted in Penelope Halson's book of the same name.

In 1938, twenty-four-year-old Audrey Parsons had already been through a litany of jobs near her home in England. She worked in a factory (too boring), as a dental receptionist (too bloody- she had to pick up teeth off the floor!), as a photographer's assistant (the darkroom was too dark), as a delivery girl for a cake shop (fired for eating the cakes) and as a riding
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