The Soldier’s Wife
When Guernsey is occupied in 1940, the islanders think it’s the beginning of the end. The Germans requisition houses for themselves, set up curfews, and cut off boats to the mainland. They bring in work gangs of Eastern European prisoners to build fortifications. Although a few islanders plot secret resistance, most just carry on, making do and mending.
Vivienne de la Mare is making do, caring for her two daughters and elderly mother-in-law, and wishing she missed her estranged husband. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with a German officer next door, and when the two start a tender affair, she has to go to great lengths to hide it from both her family and her neighbors. When Vivienne befriends a prisoner from a work gang and sees the grim conditions of the camps, she is torn. By following her conscience, she’s betraying her lover. But following her heart betrays her beloved island.
The Soldier’s Wife unfurls as leisurely as a summer on Guernsey. Leroy paints the island, all its flora and fauna, all its changeable weather, so beautifully that it almost becomes another character. Yes, I did root for Vivienne, but really, I was rooting for Guernsey to pull through in the end. And neither the island nor the author disappointed. Although the novel was predictable in places, it was well-written and the characters’ stories interesting. I enjoyed it very much.