Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recent Read: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

I was back from Christmas break with all of New Year's weekend to relax, so I started a book I borrowed from a friend and have been excited about reading: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy. This book continues on with the theme of World War II, but this time the book's setting is all Guernsey, the same island I first read about in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This, too, was fiction, but I liked that Leroy listed some of the sources she used to help her recreate life on this island in the forties.

The narrator and main character is Vivienne de la Mare, your average wife, mother, homemaker and friend. She became so real to me. I liked her so much because she was complex, as are many of us. She did the things that so many of us do: struggle with making decisions when neither choice is very appealing, how to parent and parent at the same time to children in different life stages, and in the face of strict authority, how much protest should one make, and how much should one go along with the rules even if the rules are wrong.

The contradictions that made Vivienne who she was are the things about her I liked the most. Not letting her daughter socialize with the occupying Germans but befriending the soldiers who took over the house next door both seemed like the right thing to do. Then later, lying to the Germans seemed like the right thing too.

I can't say too much about all of Vivienne's internal conflicts without giving away things about the book that you'll want to be surprised about if you're planning to read it for yourself. Just know that she, like so many people in wartime and at peacetime, manage just the best they can, and decisions made during wartime might not be the same decisions made during a peaceful time, and the other way around.

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