The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

What what??? Sarah FINALLY finished a book to review here for you guys? Holy crap it must be a miracle. I am sorry to my lovely readers that I’ve been so crazy busy lately, but I feel SO accomplished that I’ve finally been able to finish a book. I’m actually at work now so hopefully it doesn’t get too busy and I can write this in peace.

So, as many of you probably know The Soldier’s Wife was the poll-winner read for September. It’s kind of marketed as historical fiction, but I don’t know if that applies so much now that I’ve read it…

So Vivienne is living in Guernsey with her two daughters and her mother-in-law while her husband is away fighting the Germans in WW2. Eventually Germans come and claim Guernsey, and Vivienne falls into a secret love affair with one of the German soldiers living next door, Gunther. Eventually she’s torn between the love she feels for Gunther and her desire to help some of the victims of the war.

Honestly, Vivienne and her kids get by pretty well. Her oldest daughter has a job, and Vivienne grows vegetables and raises chickens. Sure they have to ration, but there were constant mentions of the food she was able to put together and it made the occasional mention of how hungry they were unbelievable – they were able to eat something every day. Vivienne is getting by with her secret affair okay, and for a long time everything seems hunky-dory until Vivienne meets Kirill, one of the prisoners from the work camps. She has to try to balance helping this poor man with her love affair with Gunther and things go haywire from there.

That’s pretty much the gist of the storyline. I like Vivienne as a character – she tries hard to continue to feed her family, she’s resourceful, she’s compassionate, etc. Of course I felt some annoyance at her for cheating on her husband while he’s away at war – but it’s revealed that their marriage sucked and he was cheating on her, and I have to remind myself that it was harder to leave your cheating husband in the 1940’s than it is now. I also liked Gunther – we don’t see too much of him, but I like how quiet and courteous he is (though he’s also married… seriously, can’t authors think of anything better than people cheating all over the place?)

I feel very indifferent towards this book. It got boring at times, and it all felt very distant… I never really connected with the characters. I think it’s just not my type of writing style. There’s a lot of flowery, rambling descriptions of the landscape and stuff. Even though the book kind of raises some tough questions (Would you risk your family to help a stranger? Would you fraternize with the enemy? How can you raise your kids happily during wartime? etc.), it seemed to be lacking in-depth and substance and therefore could have been shorter. Even though I got impatient with it at times, I was able to read it in large chunks and finished it pretty quickly.

If you’re looking for a good historical fiction read, I wouldn’t recommend this. It’s much more the story of a middle-aged woman reveling in her affair and cooking food and raising her kids, and not so much about the big war that’s been brought to the island of Guernsey.

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

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4 comments

  1. I don’t like reading about cheating couples much, either. It seems this book has a lot of potential but doesn’t go quite deep enough to live up-to it. Great review!

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  2. I know you hate cheating in books. 🙂 This book sounds like it’s worth the read for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where a woman fell in love with a German soldier in WW2. That itself is worth it to me.

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