“The Soldier’s Wife” was a rich tale of Vivienne’s struggle to get through WWII while living on Guernsey Island off the British coast. With her husband fighting in the war, she is left to care for her two children and mother-in-law, and must figure out some way to survive on Guernsey amidst food shortages and the invasion of the Germans. I thought the novel would focus mostly on Vivienne’s affair with the German officer who moves into the house next door to hers, but I was surprised at how the story was much more complex than that. The author focused on so many aspects of the war, that the story became a tapestry of the pain and struggles experienced by Guernsey’s inhabitants and was better than I expected.
At the very beginning of the story, it is clear that Vivienne’s decision to remain on Guernsey will challenge her family in ways she never imagined. Vivienne’s oldest daughter, is invited to attend a party thrown by young German officers, requiring that she be out past the curfew. Although Vivienne doesn’t want her to attend, she knows that her daughter cannot say no to the Germans. Vivienne finds herself in the same situation when she accepts help from a German officer, only to be ridiculed by the townspeople and branded a traitor. Vivienne’s youngest daughter, Millie, was a cute character who unknowingly subjects her entire family to something that could threaten their lives. The one character who did not add anything to the story was Vivienne’s mother-in-law. Her purpose was so limited that I would have preferred that she be eliminated from the book. The story really highlighted how even those who disagreed with the Germans had to work and interact with them in order to survive. There were also many heroic aspects of the novel that displayed the humanity of people during war.
I really liked this book, and would highly recommend it to those who enjoy strong female characters set against the WWII backdrop.