The Soldier's Wife

The Soldier's Wife

4.0 111
by Margaret Leroy
     
 

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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 daughtersSee more details below

Overview

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.

Includes a reading group guide for book clubs.

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Editorial Reviews

Claudia Deane
…hits all the sweet spots: forbidden love, familial loyalties, agonizing moral dilemmas and the awesome responsibilities of motherhood.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Leroy (Postcards from Berlin) continues to explore motherhood and marital infidelity, now in the context of the German occupation of the British Channel Islands during WWII. Vivienne de la Mare loves her young daughters Blanche and Millie, but not her marriage, so when her husband is called up to the front, for her it's almost a relief. Then the German army occupies her town, and Vivienne is increasingly torn between her sympathies for the POWs and her budding feelings for Gunther, a German officer who has moved in next door. She and Gunther begin an affair, but she remains committed to protecting and nurturing her daughters as they grow up in this tense, dangerous environment, with waning hope of their father's return. Leroy lovingly portrays the era and the isolated Guernsey landscape while simultaneously offering an unsparing view of the specific horrors of war. Colorful, rich descriptions, particularly regarding food, are more affecting than depictions of Vivienne and her love affair, which is almost entirely devoid of warmth or passion. More compelling are Vivienne's interactions with the preteen Millie, who becomes complicit in her mother's actions even as Vivienne tries to safeguard her innocence. (July)
Rosamund Lupton
"With its stunning and evocative description of the Guernsey landscape, its subtle and astute depiction of a woman's relationship with her children, her lover, and her husband, this absorbing novel is utterly beguiling."
From the Publisher
"With its stunning and evocative description of the Guernsey landscape, its subtle and astute depiction of a woman's relationship with her children, her lover, and her husband, this absorbing novel is utterly beguiling."—Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister
Library Journal
Vivienne de la Mare lives with her daughters Blanche, 14, and Millie, four, and her mother-in-law on the British island of Guernsey. It's 1940, and they had the chance to go to London, where her husband, Eugene, is already with the army. But Vivienne hesitated, and now the Germans have come marching into their peaceful existence. Four German soldiers have taken over the house next door, and Vivienne enters into a stilted conversation with one of them when she happens upon him in her orchard. Capt. Gunther Lehmann makes her nervous, but it has been too long since a man, since anyone, has taken an interest in her. From one shared cigarette begins a three-year love affair. Initially, Vivienne fears discovery and reprisals from her neighbors. Her friend's son suggests she could do more to thwart the enemy, but, she thinks, what can one person do? When Millie talks about a ghost she encounters at play, Vivienne dismisses these imaginings until she herself sees the man, a prisoner working for the Germans. Maybe one person can do something. VERDICT Leroy's (Yes, My Darling Daughter) beautifully rendered tale demonstrates how the longing for normalcy during wartime can vanquish, even briefly, distrust and uncover common ground. Highly recommended, especially for readers who appreciated Michael Wallner's April in Paris. [Library marketing; online reading group guide.]—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews

Leroy, whose fiction specializes in prickly mothers, turns from the paranormal (Yes, My Darling Daughter, 2009, etc.) to the historical in this story of torn loyalties during the World War II German occupation of the isle of Guernsey.

Originally from London, Vivienne has lived in Guernsey since she married Eugene, with whom she has had a loveless marriage. In 1940, with Eugene away in the military, Vivienne lives with her increasingly senile mother-in-law and her daughters, 4-year-old Millie and 14-year-old Blanche. Beset by indecision, Vivienne misses the chance to leave Guernsey with the girls before the Germans take over the island. Her anxiety, already high after German bombing kills a friend's husband, rises when German soldiers move into the vacant house next door. But she also finds herself attracted to one of the captains, Gunther Lehmann, who offers her small favors like chocolate candy and a ride home in the rain. She rather quickly succumbs, and soon he is sneaking into her arms every night at 10 sharp. Vivienne compartmentalizes her passion for Gunther, her protectiveness toward her girls and her patriotic anger at the Germans. The lovers discuss their pasts but avoid the reality of their situation; it helps that Gunther evinces no respect for Hitler. When gossip spreads about her fraternizing, Vivienne skillfully defuses suspicion. Harder to ignore is the information she discovers about inhumane labor camps on Guernsey. By the third winter, the Germans begin to deport and incarcerate non-natives like Vivienne, but Gunther keeps her safe. Meanwhile, through Millie, Vivienne meets and helps an escapee from the labor camp. She is preparing the escapee's breakfast one morning when Gunther shows up unexpectedly. She is not sure how much he knows or suspects, but shortly afterward, the escapee is tracked down and shot. Assuming he turned her in, she breaks with Gunther, only to learn the truth too late, after he has been transferred to the Eastern front.

Vivienne's measured, astringent voice is riveting and her moral ambiguity deliciously disturbing until the disappointingly maudlin ending.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401342722
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
06/28/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
27,041
File size:
12 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
18 Years

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