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The Soldier's Wife
Cover of The Soldier's Wife
The Soldier's Wife
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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.

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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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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 11, 2011
    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.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2011

    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.

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from May 15, 2011

    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

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    April 15, 2011
    It is 1940, and the Germans are occupying the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Vivienne de la Mare decides to stay on Guernsey with her daughters, ages 14 and 4, and her increasingly confused mother-in-law. With rumors of German atrocities running rampant, Vivienne is horrified when a group of Nazi officers moves into the vacant house next door. Curfews, food shortages, and talk of islanders being sent to work camps have everyone on edge. But Vivienne soon finds out that the officers are not so formidable. One, a doctor, helps when her younger daughter is ill. The other officer, Gunther, awakens feelings her philandering husband has buried, even though he represents everything she hates and fears. But when the starving POW her daughter has been feeding is caught and killed outside her house, her outrage takes over. Leroy has written a tender love story wrapped around a horrifying account of unspeakable cruelty. She brings to life the island and the characters that populate it. While a bit predictable, the novel does not disappoint.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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