The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE SOLDIER'S WIFE by Margaret Leroy

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret LeroyPublisher:  Hyperion
Date Released:  June 2011
Pages:  416

About the Book:  Vivienne de la Mare lives at Le Colombier, an old farmhouse in a secluded valley on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, with her two daughters and her acerbic mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. Vivienne's husband is away in the army, and the marriage is an unhappy one, regardless. And then the Germans arrive. Vivienne does what she can to “keep up the side.” She rations, grows vegetables, and looks out for her children and neighbors. But she did not expect to fall in love with Gunther, the handsome, brooding German officer who has moved in next door. Though she knows the perils of their love, she believes that she can keep their relationship—and her family—safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, Vivienne must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger. A novel of grand passion and dark secrets, The Soldier's Wife hauntingly asks, What would you do for your family? What should you do for a stranger?

Wanda's Review:  The Soldier's Wife takes place in Guernsey during the German Occupation of WWII. Vivienne de la Mare embraces the simplicity of life in Guernsey, content to live in the quiet of the secluded valleys with her flowers, piano and poetry. Vivienne's husband, Eugene, is fighting in the English army and she is living with her mother in law, Evelyn, and her two daughters, Blanche and Millie. 

The character of Blanche, the eldest daughter, reads the Bible and prays. A part of her is frivolous and a part that is reflective and rather serious. Millie, a favorite of mine, is the youngest daughter and a very robust little girl that just makes you smile. I absolutely loved the relationship Vivienne had with Millie, which is a very important part of the story. Evelyn, the mother in law of Vivienne is not the easiest of people - not easy to like. 

Four German soliders are occupying a house next door to Vivienne's home. In time an affair develops between Vivienne and one of the soldiers, Gunther. Gunther goes out of his way to be kind to Vivienne. She had been living in a loveless marriage with Eugene almost from the beginning and finds it easy to fall in love with this German soldier. And the story continues on through the war.

The prose and beautiful imagery really solidifies the story. It made the chapters flow and captured the time period of this story really touching my emotions. There were parts that move too slowly, but I'm glad I kept reading. A beautifully written story that I highly recommend. 

About the Author:  
I grew up in the New Forest. As a child I wrote elaborate fantasy stories that I never showed to anyone. But around age 12 I stopped writing, and didn't start again till my mid-twenties.

I went to Oxford to study music, at St. Hilda's College. In my twenties I tried all sorts of things - music therapy, play-leading with children with disabilities, work in a toy shop, teaching. I also got married - and divorced. Finally I found work I really enjoyed, as a social worker: I qualified at Leicester University, and worked in psychiatry and then in child protection. It's a reviled profession but I found it fascinating: though, intriguingly, in my writing social workers are more likely to be villains than heroes. Around this time I met Mick, who is now my husband - and I started writing again. I became a full-time(ish) writer after our younger daughter was born.