The Soldier's Wife

The Soldier's Wife

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401341701
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 06/28/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 204,111
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Margaret Leroy studied music at Oxford and has been a music therapist, play leader, shop assistant, and social worker. For fifteen years she has worked as a social worker and counselor, specializing in marital therapy and child protection. Her books have been published in nine languages, and her first novel, Trust, has been translated into five languages and was broadcast in February 2003 as a Granada TV drama.

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The Soldier's Wife 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
MichiganBlue More than 1 year ago
**Review of Advanced Reading Edition** Husband off to war, caring for two girls and an addled mother-in-law, our heroine, Vivienne, must quickly decide if she should evacuate to the mainland from Guernsey and the Channel Islands. Each choice is fraught with potential problems. It's early in World War II and England herself is being bombed. London, where Vivienne has connections, is perilous. An impending invasion by the Nazis carries unknown risks, but rumors are rife. Surely the War won't last long? At the last, she packs up her daughters and trundles granny to a neighbor. Waiting to board the last boat out, she belatedly opts for perceived safety once she sees the tiny boat and the numbers of refugees queuing to board her. And this only takes us through the first 25 pages! Vivenne must live with this decision, despite bombings, deprivation and the stationing of Nazi officers at the house next door. Where does compromise to survive bleed into complicity with the enemy? How does one raise teenagers in wartime? How far does one go to protect a stranger? I truly enjoyed this book. The description of the bombing of the harbor was particularly harrowing. Leroy's portrayal of the daughters, one in grade school, the other a teenager were spot on. So believable. Also ringing true was the relationship with the mother-in-law whose mind is starting to wander. These are true, fleshed out characterizations. The story is fast paced - the pages just kept on turning. I wish the love story with Gunther was equally compelling. Yes, it is forbidden, yes, it was alive with danger, but no, it didn't work for me. Because the other story lines were so involving, I kept with it to the end, although I would have been quite happy without the epilogue.
lisajjb More than 1 year ago
Good story of civilian life during WWII in occupied channel island Guernsey. She is torn between caring for her daughters and mother-in-law, embarking on a love affair with a German captain and trying not to ignore the suffering of the Todt workers on her island. Very good story and writing.
Morgie More than 1 year ago
"writing ruins recreational reading ... but it can't be helped." I was immediately captured by Margaret Leroy's storytelling ability. One minute I was sitting poolside, the next, I was in Guernsey during World War II and following Vivienne de la Mare as she copes with life and family, love and responsibility, and an uncertain future for all. Ms. Leroy is an excellent writer who knows how to draw the reader into the story, and she does so efforlessly. Writers pay attention to how she writes description ... and introduces the characters. She never drops the ball. Readers this is the perfect summer read. You would be selfish not to share this story with your friends. Patricia Punt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book comes out later this month and I was able to get an advance copy. When I read the synopsis and found out this story takes place in Guernsey during WWII, I was a little irritated because it seemed a repeat of the book Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I ended up liking it better than Guernsey partially because Guernsey is told in a series of letters the main characters write to each other which doesn't seem to delve deeply enough into the story. The main character is Vivienne, a soldier's wife left to take care of her two children and ailing mother in law. After she fails to leave Guernsey, she is forced to deal with the Nazi Occupation of their island. Soon she finds herself in a love affair with the German Officer living next door. Hiding her affair from her family and community, she is forced to make a choice when her daughter befriends a prisoner in one of the Nazi work camps. Vivienne is not a strong person. She doesn't marry her husband for love, which results in a marriage only in name and not emotion. She is plagued with indecision when faced with the choice to take her children to London before the Occupation, or to stay. After the German's occupy Guernsey, she finds herself fumbling with how she should behave. She tries to harden herself against the Germans they are at war with but finds herself lusting over the Officer next door. In spite of the attitudes of her family and community, she continues her secret love affair because of the need and lack of physical intimacy she has had in her life. Only after helping a prisoner in the Nazi work camp, is she able to question how well she knows the man she is falling in love with. The reality of the War is that not everyone was able to take a hard, strong stance. Vivienne behaves very selfishly in her affair but then makes up for it by risking her life to help someone else. She ends up being a very reluctant heroine. I felt the story was slow progressing and then the ending was rushed compared to the speed of the rest book. I really enjoyed the the author's imagery and descriptive writing.
Saamm_ More than 1 year ago
Veryy good story ive never read anything like it. Buy it. Read it. You'll love it.
lioness2001 More than 1 year ago
First few pages won me over. Wonderfully descriptive without being overly so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed all the characters especially her younger daughter's key part in the story. Very interesting and also sad at times. You learned how people at a tough time worked and helped each other and used everything they had and wasted nothing. Good read. I would like to look for more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I especially loved Millie, the youngest daughter of the main character, Vivienne. The story was heartbreaking in parts. I really felt for Vivienne, and all she had to endure. She grew and changed in many ways as the story progressed and the war and occupation continued. There were harrowing moments as well as tender oned that kept me reading and interested in the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm having problems getting through this book. It's really slow reading and shallow. I'm not connecting with the characters either. I've enjoyed reading other books about war, occupation and interaction with the enemy, so it's not the topic. I don't think I would read another book by this authori.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters. Very entertaining.
sneps More than 1 year ago
This is a story that will evoke emotions from you and you will either love this book or hate it. While there are many issues that can get nit-picked, I overall loved this story. True, there are situations in this book that are not very believable and will certainly cause a reader or two to really question the authenticity of this storyline. However, I really fell in love with Vivienne and her daughters. While the love affair between Vivienne and Gunther didn¿t seem very plausible and the ending had me re-reading chapters, I did love the relationship between her and her daughters. This is a story with WWII and the Nazi invasion of this beautiful as a backdrop, but it really is about the strength and perseverance of a woman and the love she has for her daughters. I did love Gunther and wished the relationship between both of them would have been further explored, as well as the deplorable conditions that they really were living in, however felt that it would also have taken away from the primary story in some way. I found myself crying in some parts, laughing in others, and wanting more in the end. I read this book over the course of 2 nights, which goes to show that even though there are some gaps in the book, this book was amazing and it left me wishing there were more chapters! Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that loves a good love story, reading about the relationships and dynamics between mother and daughter, and the ways in which WWII changed and impacted lives.
llamamia More than 1 year ago
The Soldier's Wife is a touching story of love and survival and what it takes to endure when life is turned upside down by war. Leroy's lyrical writing brings to life the island of Guernsey and the inhabitants during WWII. The characters are nicely developed, especially Vivienne and her spunky daughter, Millie, and the reader feels tremendous empathy for the difficult choices that need to be made. A warm, sad tale with a bitter sweet ending...I loved it!
Christmasmom More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful, emotional, and thought provoking. I loved the rich description of Guernsey landscape and the historical background of the time.
EeKY More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend! Great story!
julie10reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While her husband is away in the army, Vivienne de la Mare, living in a farmhouse on World War II-occupied Guernsey in the Channel Island with her two daughters and mother-in-law, falls in love with a German officer and must make a difficult decision that could tear her family apart. From BPL websiteMs Leroy writes with period charm: the reader could easily mistake this for a book written shortly after World War II. Her characters seem real¿except for Eugene, the husband away at war¿and we feel their impotence and confusion under occupying German forces (Guernsey is roughly 30 square miles!). Ms Leroy said it was important for the characters to be unsure about the outcome of the war. Should they accommodate the German troops in, as it seemed then¿the likely event that Hitler would win? Too many WWII novels forget that the Allies¿ victory was definitely not a forgone conclusion. The Soldier¿s Wife challenges our ideas of ¿enemy¿ and ¿stranger¿.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an absorbing story written in beautiful, evocative prose with characters that are occasionally frustrating but all the more realistic for it. Set during World War II, the story takes us from the last day that Guernsey Islanders can evacuate for London before the arrival of the Germans in June, 1940, through all of the war, to an epilogue in 1946. Vivienne de la Mare lives with her two children, Blanche, 14, and Millie, 4, in a lovely isolated home on the island. Her widowed mother-in-law Evelyn lives with them also. Vivienne¿s husband Eugene has gone to war, but he had been gone in most senses before that; they had never truly been in love, and in any event had not had any sexual relations since Millie was conceived. Vivienne knows that Eugene has had a mistress.When the Germans come, four German soldiers move into the deserted house next door. After a long struggle against her needs and her obvious attraction, Vivienne begins a relationship with one of them, Gunther Lehmann. Gunther too has a marriage back home in Germany that is inadequate in many ways, and Vivienne can sense his loneliness before they even speak. Gunther finds in Vivienne the love he never expected to have, and releases in her a passion that she only dreamed about. But it is an awkward situation. Vivienne feels like a traitor, and comes to loathe the behavior of the Germans wearing Nazi uniforms who supervise the slave laborers on the island. She never knows how much Gunther participates or knows about it; he prefers to leave all talk of the war outside of her door. She doesn¿t understand how so much good and evil can coexist in the same universe.Somewhat by accident and reluctantly, Vivienne becomes involved in the underground resistance on the island. She does this during the day, and makes love to a German at night. It is tearing Vivienne apart, and something has to give. It finally does, in the senseless way that so often happens in wartime.Discussion: Complex issues raised by this story dilute the black and white of war with shades of gray that muddy any obvious judgments. The most salient issue is the tendency to lump all persons from an enemy nation into one category, refusing to consider that individuals vary, even in wartime. Part of the tragedy in this story is not only what war does to both the victims and the perpetrators, but that it leads to classifying all sorts of human beings with different interests and pasts and presents into only either victims or perpetrators. The inability to communicate is another big problem for Vivienne and Gunther, and it is compounded by the fact that they are on two different sides of the war. Does love supplant loyalty to one¿s country when under occupation? Is love even real in such circumstances, or is it a response to the fear and adrenaline and heightened senses of wartime?But the biggest issue has nothing really to do with war at all, although the war affects it, and it is about trusting someone you love. Vivienne found she could not trust the love of her mother, who died when she was three, nor that of her husband, and she never learned how to give that trust to anyone else. Trust, trust is harder for Vivienne than questions of war and peace, or of good and evil. Ultimately, she must decide if she can take a chance on love. Her decision will haunt you long after you close the last page of this memorable book.Evaluation: This book is really an excellent exposé of both the overt, obvious horrors of war, and the little everyday ones, that can rip up peoples¿ hearts and lives, or make them stronger from the unexpected dawns that always come even after the darkest nights.
marient7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As WW11 draws closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows their will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the German officers who move in next door.
dgmlrhodes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is definitely a great pick for a book club. It is a story that will spur excellent discussions within that setting. The book is set in Guernsey during World War II. It focuses on a woman who falls in love with a German soldier and begins an affair. The book is somewhat balanced - so many books written about the German's during this timeframe portray them all as monsters. While it does show the terrible side, it does also show that there were some good German's as well. The book explores many issues. Who should you trust? What would you do for a stranger? What are you willing to do for your beliefs? Who should you love? Overall a beautiful and hard to put down book. Reader received a complimentary copy through the Good Reads First Reads program. Thank you to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book early!
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book that left me with somewhat mixed feelings. I liked the details of everyday life in World War II Guernsey, a setting I fell in love with after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. There is some beautiful, lyrical language, and then there are some parts that seem overly detailed. It took me a long time to finish this book, and I am usually a fast reader, because there are some sections that really drag.I liked the narrator, Vivienne, and her small family of her two daughters and mother-in-law. I was less interested in her relationship with German soldier Gunther, although it does bring up interesting ideas of who the "enemy" is. I just didn't feel the connection between them, although the author tried to show me over and over that they were in love.I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, especially set during World War II. I would add, however, that for me the book never seemed to really fulfill its potential and that the pacing is somewhat off.
jo-jo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading a previous novel that took place during the German Occupation on the Island of Guernsey, I couldn't wait to return there through the pages of The Soldier's Wife. We follow Vivienne's life during this hard time after making a life-changing decision to stay on the Island when so many others are fleeing.Vivienne lives in a more rural area of Guernsey, but not far from a village that contains all of their basic needs. Since her husband has joined the army and has left to fight against the Germans, she finds herself having to spend all of her energy and strength over the next couple of years to care for her aging mother-in-law and her two young daughters. I found admiration in my heart for Vivienne as she raises these girls, one on the verge of becoming a young lady, during such turbulent times. Raising children is a hard job and I can only imagine what it would be like without the support of a husband and father by your side. Not only for emotional needs, but for basic survival needs as well.The Germans take over the Island in such a brutal and swift manner that leaves many fatalities including some of her close friends. Once the Germans have control Vivienne seems to be unsure of the intentions of this enemy, as she sees many of them shopping in the same stores that she shops, and some even dating friends of her teenage daughter. This seems to send a mixed message to Vivienne and as she has problems understanding where her loyalty actually lies.Since many of the Island residents have deserted their homes in a search for safety, it is easy for the Germans to find random houses to occupy during this period of time. It just so happens that the home right next to Vivienne's becomes occupied by a squad of German soldiers. As she catches glimpses of these soldiers from time to time she seems to let down her guard against them as she is able to see that they are actually human just like her. Before you know it she develops a special friendship with Gunther, a German captain, and they begin to count on each other for companionship.I must admit to you that when I first started this book I was not appreciating the story that was unfolding before me. But then I realized that although I didn't enjoy the premise of the novel, I couldn't put it down! I let my mind explore what this situation would be like for a young woman caring for an elderly woman and two young children. A person does what one needs to do in order to survive, even if it is seeking solitude and comfort from the most unlikely of strangers.This novel turned out to be so much more than I expected it to be. Vivienne must find the strength and courage to do things that put both her reputation and her life at risk. Some readers may find that many of her actions were wrong, but when it counted, she did what needed to be done. I found myself enjoying this novel, although it did leave me a bit unsettled, but I feel that good books will do that to you from time to time. With themes of love, courage, war, and perseverance I believe that this book would be great for a book club discussion or for personal leisure.
melaniehope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, what an amazing book. I didn't want to put this one down. The writing is so descriptive and the wartime plot often made for a suspenseful read.This beautiful and moving story tells the story of Vivienne de la Mare. She lives on the island of Guernsey during WWII. Her husband is off fighting in the war and she is left behind to care for her 2 daughters and her ailing mother-in-law. Next door a group of German soldiers have taken up residence as part of the German occupation of the island. Vivienne quietly cares for her family all the while wondering how she can keep her family safe while German soldiers occupy the island. But then the unexpected happens. Vivienne finds herself falling in love with one of the German soldiers. What follows is a tale of hope, sacrifice, yearning and learning to trust.Margaret Leroy is a talented writer. Her descriptive images stayed with me long after I had put away my book for the day. The storyline moves along slowly, but beautifully. I was immediately pulled into Vivienne's day to day life and I found myself riveted by her fears, her dreams, her romance with Gunther.I have to admit, I even shed a few tears at the end of this bittersweet novel. There is an epilogue and so Leroy takes us from the beginning of this tale to the very end. I think the story ended perfectly and I can't recommend this book highly enough.
JGoto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first heard about the release of Margaret Leroy's The Soldier's Wife, I had a suspician that it might be a mediocre WWll story, trying to capitalize on the recent popularity of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Happily, I couldn't have been more wrong. The Soldier's Wife is thoughtful and well written, clearly portaying life in Nazi occupied Guernsey. The characters, including both the islanders and the Germans, are believable and well defined, and Ms. Leroy makes the setting come alive. The story is much more than just a love story between Vivienne de la Mare and the German officer in the house nextdoor. Vivienne's relationships with her neighbors, daughters, ailing mother-in-law, and prisoners of war are lyrically described and add to the complexity of the story. Juxtaposed to Vivienne's wartime existance are the fairytales she reads aloud to her young daughter. I enjoyed this book very much.
Renz0808 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to receive a copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer¿s program. The reason this book caught my attention was because the setting of the book takes place during the German occupation of island of Guernsey. I have been very interested in this island recently largely due to the book The Guernsey Potato Peel and Literary Society, which was the first book I have read about this particular area of the Chanel Islands and some of the things these people went through during occupation. I found the stories in Potato Peel and Literary Society to be intense and I was looking forward to reading more about this island and the brave men and women who lived there. This story is told through the perspective of Vivienne de la Mare whose husband is off fighting in the war while she is left behind to take care of her two young daughters and her ailing mother-in-law. Vivienne has to make a lot of sacrifices in order for her family to survive and when a group of German soldiers move into the house next to hers she feels a certain amount of anger in this intrusion of her privacy. Slowly a relationship between one of the soldiers leads into a passionate love affair and Vivienne finds herself trying to keep this affair secret so that her family can be kept safe. Vivienne is put into a desperate situation when her youngest daughter befriends a prisoner from one of the work camps on the island and Vivienne must decide if she is going to sacrifice her intense relationship to help save and protect this prisoner. I really enjoyed this book even more than I expected. I admit the love story can be a bit predictable but I thought that the author handled it well because her writing was so honest, touching and poetic. I don¿t think I would have enjoyed this book half as much if it had been written in a different way. All of her characters are honest, intense and gritty. She makes them real and I can almost imagine what Gunther looks like she paints such an accurate portrait of him. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is all of the supplemental information about Guernsey from the island fairy tales to the wonderful descriptions of the landscape, I really felt like I was there with the characters, everything felt so real. I can¿t say enough how much I enjoyed reading this book it is truly a story about family survival, making the best of a bad situation and how much love can conquer all, I would gladly recommend this to anyone interested in the time period.
Electablue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. The story of Vivienne and her life on Guernsey Island was full of well written characters and showed how difficult the war was for everyone, not just the Islanders, but the German soldiers as well. The book focuses more on the everyday life of Vivienne and how she was able to take care of her children and mother-in-law than on her romance with a German soldier. So often historical novels make everything look black and white, but when you are living those times the choices are never as clear cut and easy.
arielfl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Hyperion and Library Thing for providing me an advance copy of this book to review.Library Thing predicted that I would love this book and it was right! It is a great historical fiction love story. Vivienne de La Mare is a mother living on the island of Guernsey. She is raising two young daughters and taking care of her mother in law who is suffering from dementia while her husband is away fighting in World War Two. Vivienne reveals that she has never loved her husband so she is ripe for an affair when German officers start occupying the house next door. She meets lost soul Gunther and very quickly she finds herself literally sleeping with the enemy even though she knows that won't go over too well with her friends and neighbors. She chooses to focus on Gunther as human being being while she does her best to block out what he may be doing during the day when he is away from her. When I think about World War Two, I always wonder how the Germans lost any sense of humanity. They were killing millions of civilians including women and children who were not even putting up a fight without seeming to have second thought about it. I think this author did a good job of trying to explain the German point of view. The German people were starving from their loss in World War I. When Hitler came to power the people had food for their families but now they had to follow a mad man. It seemed like the German characters in this book were afraid of what would happen to their own families if they tried to go against Hitler. Gunther acknowledges that what was going on might not be right but he seems to compartmentalize it. He and the other Germans try to do what they were assigned without thinking to much about it or looking at the bigger picture. When Vivienne tries to ask Gunther questions about what is going on he tries to block it out. Eventually things reach the point where they can no longer be ignored and Vivienne has to make a choice about where her loyalties lie. You get the feeling that if the war had not occurred Vivienne and Gunther would have had the perfect love story. Everyone had an occupation before the war and they are thrust into new parts that they don't necessarily want to play. The architect and the violin maker become guard and prisoner. As a mother I especially sympathize with Vivienne's desire to protect her daughters even when the cost to her is so high. I also loved her mother in law. She is just with it enough to keep reminding Vivienne that she is doing things she shouldn't be. The other Guernsey islanders add to the richness of the story. My only quibble wit the story is how the ending plays out through a misunderstanding. I hate when major plot points occur because a character won't ask a question or say what they mean the way people would in real life. Aside from that I did think the ending was appropriate and the epilogue ties everything up neatly. I did not read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society though I do own it and is on my to be read shelf. I can't wait to see how it adds to my picture of Guernsey during this time period. I have been reading the Maisie Dobbs series and fans of that will enjoy this book as will anyone who like historical fiction and love stories.