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.
And now for my review:
As I read The Soldier's Wife I had a vivid picture of what life must have been for the Channel Islanders during Occupation. Starting with their decision to either remain or leave the island, their situation must have often felt desperate. They were left alone afterall and this in itself made it quite different from all other occupied land.
I must say the phrase 'Keep calm and carry on' immediately came to mind for that is exactly what they did!
Margaret Leroy subtly invites us to see Guernsey's under occupation and feel the islanders different emotions at seeing their land invaded. The Soldier's Wife reads somehow like a diary as we learn of Vivienne's life. There is a poignant feeling of despair yet also hope for her despite the trying circumstances. She is a survivor and she lives day by day.
Most of Guernsey men are fighting for the Crown, the women are dealing with shortages, restrictions and the ennemy's presence.
To find love blooming amongst all this must seem farfetched for some but let's remember the strong emotions we feel under duress. As you read Margaret Leroy's description of Vivienne's forbidden love and all the ensuing events, you feel for the main character and soon come to realize there is no right or wrong in times of war.
I felt the story flowed well, the islanders and the ennemy's descriptions were certainly enticing and I found it hard to put the book down. I got caught into it, you see I wanted Vivienne to remember nothing comes without a price!
You might well ask my favourite part of the book? It is a small Breton fishermen prayer that say so much with very few words: 'Oh Lord, help me for your ocean is so big, and my boat is so small.'
I gladly give 4 stars to this book!
A quick note about the author: Margaret Leroy's website is well worth a moment of your time if you are interested in finding out more about her writing (here)!
A reminder as usual: I was not asked to review this book and all opinions expresed are entirely my own!