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.
©2011 Margaret Leroy (P)2013 Tantor
"Leroy's beautifully rendered tale demonstrates how longing for normalcy during wartime can vanquish, even briefly, distrust and uncover common ground. Highly recommended." (Library Journal starred review)
A Soldier's Wife tells the story of a thirty-something mother of two youngish daughters, who lived out the 2nd World War on the German occupied Island of Guernsey, a Channel Island and Bailiwick off the French Coast.
It is excellently told by Alison Larkin, who is able to read to us in the many accents and different voices that the many charactered story requires. You never are in doubt of who is speaking.
There is much suspense as Vivienne juggles finding food for her family during the five years of the war, her feelings of English Patriotism and the slowly developing attraction that develops between her and a German Captain.
She is a good person who is forced to cope daily, with unexpected events where she must question her patriotism, the wisdom of the many difficult decisions she is forced to make - and just the day to day effort of providing food and warmth for her family.
As the story unwinds it becomes a lesson in strength and courage.
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I think either a story grabs you or it doesn’t. This one didn’t grab me at all.
I persevered because of all the positive reviews, and I like stories set in Europe in the 30s and 40s, but on more than one occasion I wanted to abandon it. I was bored.
To me, the story didn’t flow. The relationship between Vivienne and Gunther seemed to appear overnight – it felt based on nothing! I never ever EVER felt Vivienne’s internal tug-of-war, I never felt like she was struggling against a growing attachment… it felt contrived. She fell in LOVE? when? how? One day she felt “X”, the next day she felt “Y”…. ok, if you say so! I just had to believe it was so because it was written on the page not because of the character’s growing emotions.
I have read so many more (better) books that really make you feel the internal conflict that happens when you are forced to fraternize with the enemy in order to keep your family safe, this book just fell flat.
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