Book Review: The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson

Title: The Marriage Bureau
Author: Penrose Halson
Publisher:  William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Release Date:  May 2, 2017
Genre:  Historical Fiction

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 office on London’s Bond Street and set about the delicate business of matchmaking. Drawing on the bureau’s extensive archives, Penrose Halson—who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau—tells their story, and those of their clients.

From shop girls to debutantes; widowers to war veterans, clients came in search of security, social acceptance, or simply love. And thanks to the meticulous organization and astute intuition of the Bureau’s matchmakers, most found what they were looking for.

Penrose Halson draws from newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and interviews with the proprietors themselves to bring the romance and heartbreak of matchmaking during wartime to vivid, often hilarious, life in this unforgettable story of a most unusual business.

The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson is a "true story of how two matchmakers arranged love in wartime London." That in itself with that cute cover attracted me to it. Plus, lately, I'm on a "war-time" fiction kick. Just love the amount of rich details and the many different emotions novels set during those times can induce. Well, I was taken by surprise by this book on that aspect. Unfortunately, the rich details I love about books set during this time was not very forthcoming in The Marriage Bureau. Though I do find the whole story and the author's way of writing this story cute, it by no means are the same caliber in terms of emotions. That being said, it's more of a fluff piece and I have the very distinct idea that it felt more like it was a chat and I'm just a very quiet listener. It's delightful in some areas, and in some just silly. Also, there should be pictures throughout that would increase the enjoyment, but as I've read an advance copy, it did not have it. With it being an advance copy, there also runs the risk of editorial mistakes, and there were quite a few that stopped the flow of the read. Either way, I think if you pick up this book without expectations of it being a "war-time" novel, but a fun idea of old-time matchmaking, it will be rather enjoyable. And don't forget the last few pages that included a list of "Requirements for Female (and Male) Clients" - quite funny.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.


When Penrose was 25 and still unmarried, her mother sent her to the Katharine Allen Marriage & Advice Bureau.  Twenty years later, after a career in teaching, writing and editing, she and her management consultant husband Bill bought the Bureau.  They also acquired The Marriage Bureau, which had been set up in 1939 by two 24-year-olds.  As Bill had predicted, matchmaking suited Penrose down to the ground, and they remain happily in touch with many former clients who visit them in London.

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  1. Every time I read a review of this book I start mentally singing the Matchmaker song from Fiddler on the Roof. :)

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. it felt more like it was a chat and I'm just a very quiet listener. - yes! I agree!


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