The Soldier's Daughter by Rosie Goodwin
|The Soldier's Daughter by Rosie Goodwin|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: Briony and her siblings are evacuated to their Grandmother's house in Cornwall, in this Cookson-style wartime saga.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 448||Date: August 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Briony Valentine lives a contented life with her mum, dad and younger siblings in a close-knit community in Nuneaton. She doesn't have much to worry about, other than the fact that she and her best friend both have a crush on the same boy, Ernie. However, the clouds of war are gathering and threaten to turn Briony's peaceful world upside down. Dad and Ernie enlist in the army and Briony has her own war to fight when she and her siblings are evacuated to Cornwall to stay with their stern Grandmother. The black sheep of the family, the unsavoury uncle Seb, clearly wants Briony out of his way, but how far will he go to make sure that she does not interfere with his sinister plans?
The Soldier's Daughter is firmly set in the Catherine Cookson mould and will appeal to anyone who enjoys her books. As can be expected, this is a family saga, with a strong resilient heroine who has to battle all manner of tragedy and adversity in order to reach her happy ending. She faces trials aplenty, including an awkward love triangle, a murderous uncle, an alcoholic mother, a sickly younger sister and of course, more than a few tragic deaths. Thankfully, Goodwin manages to strike a good balance by including plenty of light-hearted moments, ensuring that the storyline never feels too heavy, in spite of the subject matter.
The story takes a fairly predictable route and holds no real shocks or surprises. The pace can feel slow at times, although the story does gain momentum in the last few chapters, which are full of action and excitement. Briony is a likeable heroine, although perhaps a little too perfect. She is hard-working, patient and remarkably stoic in the face of unrelenting cruelty from her Grandmother and Uncle. Likewise, Uncle Seb comes across as a bit of a caricature; a pantomime villain with no redeemable qualities whatsoever. There are no shades of subtlety here; the man is pure evil, through and through. In between these two extremes, we have some well-drawn and perhaps more realistic, secondary characters. My favourite was Lois, Briony's mother, who has an interesting back-story of giving up a life of privilege to marry the man she loves. Her efforts to acclimatise herself to the duties of a housewife are quite comical to read and it is interesting to see how she copes when her husband is sent to war and her children evacuated.
The Cornish setting is particularly appealing and stands in stark contrast to the bombed-out, cramped conditions in Nuneaton. Goodwin's descriptions of the delicious local fayre cooked up by the housekeeper had me salivating as I read.
Having worked in a library, I know how popular this type of book is and I am sure that The Soldier's Daughter will be as successful as Goodwin's earlier books. It may be a little formulaic, and dare I say, a little silly in places, but offers just the right dose of escapism, romance and drama to appeal to its target audience.
I'd like to point out that the blurb on the book is misleading. It reads: “For as long as Briony Valentine can remember she has been soft on Eddie, the boy next door.” This is not true. First of all the name of the boy is Ernie, not Eddie. Secondly, the story makes it clear that Briony and Ernie had been friends since childhood, but she only developed a crush on him very recently. It seemed a little unprofessional that the blurb was not representative of the book's content.
If you enjoyed this book, you may like Little Girl Lost by Katie Flynn, which is written in a similar style.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Soldier's Daughter by Rosie Goodwin at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Soldier's Daughter by Rosie Goodwin at Amazon.com.
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