Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy ... A Novel Review for July 2011

How well do you really know someone?

_"As the war draws closer and closer to Guernsey and her home, 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 know nor 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, dementia takes hold of her mother-in-law, and the restrictions place 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 her young daughter befriends a prisoner from a work camp she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.

_"A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier's Wife makes readers take pause and wonder: 'What would you do for your family?' ...'What should you do for a stranger?' ... and 'What would you do for love?'" (cover copy)

Writers Workshop (Details of Setting) - There is a lot to notice and like with Margaret Leroy's newest novel. The story opens with Vivienne reading a bedtime story to her daughters. Blanche is sprawled out on the sofa pretending to read an old copy of Vogue while Millie is pressed up against her mother's side. Vivienne (POV character/First person) looks around the room. "It 's so peaceful in my home tonight. The amber light of the setting sun falls on all the things in the room, all so friendly and familiar: my piano and heaps of sheet music, the Staffordshire dogs and silver eggcups, the many books on their shelves .... I look around and wonder if we will be here this time tomorrow ... I turn back to the story. I read how there was a solider coming home.... The ceiling creaks above us as Evelyn gets ready for bed...."

_Notice there is no separation between the activity of the characters and their surroundings. Later Vivienne walks with Evelyn to Angie's house and the description and characterization are flawless. The pace may seem gentle and slow, but make no mistake Ms. Leroy has us firmly in hand moving us ever forward into the story.

_Details of setting can be troublesome for many beginning writers. Some choose to completely ignore them, while others burden the reader with too many details. Reading books like The Soldier's Wife shows us how to employ the details effortlessly.

Notice - I am grateful to Hyperion New York for the review copy of this novel. My thoughts, are however, my own.

this is a novel about choices

1 comment:

Carol Bindel said...

Reading this review and writer's tips, I can't help but wonder if the weaving of scene and plot movement is a thing I have yet to properly master. Instructive. Thanks.