August 3, 2011

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy is a captivating novel that is set in a beautiful island that becomes occupied by the Germans during World War II. This is the type of novel that blurs the lines between right and wrong and will have you reading well into the night to see what happens next.

Book Description
A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier’s Wife asks “What would you do for your family?” “What should you do for a stranger?” and “What would you do for love?”

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship—and her family—safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.” – The Soldier’s Wife

My Thoughts
The Soldier’s Wife is a beautifully written novel that is also very intense due to the subject matter. It is a love story based on a very real part of our recent history and showcases some of the horrors of World War II. It isn’t meant to necessarily have a happy ending, and I won’t give away spoilers to it in this review either. This is one that you will have to read on your own (which I do urge everyone to do) to find out what happens.

The main character Vivienne has two daughters that she must care for and an elderly mother-in-law with dementia/Alzheimer’s. Her husband is away fighting in the war and the army that was on the island to protect them has left to fight on the mainland.

The idyllic island town is left with some “islanders” but the majority of people have left to England. What is a mother to do? Stay or leave and take her chances on a small boat and go to England where they could be bombed there as well? Vivienne decides to stay. However, it isn’t long before they are bombed and the Germans occupy their island and impose rules and take over everything from cars to homes.

The life that Vivienne had isn’t the same and as she thinks back to how things were, it wasn’t really as it appeared either. The Germans that moved into the house next to them seem nice enough but when one starts to get friendly, is it right or wrong to be kind back? It is a hard thing to rationalize in wartime and eventually Vivienne does become the lover to Gunther, one of the Germans that lives next to her. Can she really trust him though? Can anybody really trust anyone in times like this?

What happens over the time that the Germans occupy their island changes Vivienne’s world forever. Does she make the right choices? Is there such a thing as “right” and “wrong”?

I absolutely loved this story and it was a tear jerker. It was brilliantly told and I look forward to reading more by Margaret Leroy. I highly recommend this book to everyone to read!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Soldier’s Wife, Voice, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Mary said...

I'll look for this at the bookstore!

Yelena Starikova said...

Interesting!! Im going to check it out!