The Soldier's Wife by Pamela Hart
|The Soldier's Wife by Pamela Hart|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A newly-married couple are forced apart by war. Ruby takes a job and discovers the joys and freedoms of independence. Can she ever go back to life as a housewife when her husband returns?|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2015|
...none of it was real, until the last moment when his hand, the tips of his fingers, left the tips of hers and he was gone.
Turned into just another soldier.
Ruby and Jimmy are newly-weds full of big dreams and plans for the future, but all of that will have to wait. It is 1915 and the world is in the grip Great War, sweeping Jimmy away to fight battles in far-off Gallipoli. Ruby feels like she's in limbo; no longer an innocent child but not quite a fully-fledged married lady. Not wanting to return home, she decides to stay in Sydney, to keep herself occupied as she waits out the war, longing for the return of her beloved husband. She rents a room from a local landlady and finds a job as a bookkeeper at a Timber Merchant. Although she initially takes the job to keep herself occupied and earn a little money, she soon falls into a comfortable routine and starts to enjoy her new-found independence and responsibility.
In the meantime, Jimmy is thrown headlong into the full horrors of war. He keeps his spirits up by sending regular letters to Ruby, assuring of her of his love and fidelity. The battlefield leaves scars, both physical and mental, so soon neither Ruby nor Jimmy are the people they once were. Will they be able to reconcile their differences once the war is over?
The Soldier's Wife is a moving love story about independence, compromise and reconciliation. When we are introduced to newly-weds Ruby and Jimmy, they are so deeply in love that they seem invincible and it feels like nothing than ever come between them. As the war takes its toll, both of them change so much that their original dreams for the future no longer seem compatible and yet there is still such a strong bond between them that deep-down, we know that their relationship is worth fighting for.
One thing that really impressed me about this book was the strict attention to detail and amount of research that must have gone into producing it. Every aspect of life in 1915 Sydney has been painstakingly reconstructed, from the mainstream to the mundane, giving the story the weight of authenticity. Hart also manages to accurately convey the prevailing attitude to women at the time and the fact that they were looked down upon as second-class citizens and had much lower pay than a man in the same job. Ruby had to bow to convention (even showing an ankle was considered shameful) whilst inwardly seething at the prejudice she faced. I liked the fact that the story was set in wartime Australia rather than Britain, as it gave a refreshing slant on the traditional wartime novel.
The pace of the story is slow at the beginning, but it builds up to the point that the reader is unable to put the book down. I really enjoyed reading Ruby and Jimmy's love story and hoped throughout that the strength of their love would keep them together despite the difficulties they faced. It seems particularly poignant to be reading the book in November, when we traditionally take time to reflect on the hardships that these soldiers faced. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.
For more tales of the power of love against the harsh backdrop of war, try Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Soldier's Wife by Pamela Hart at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Soldier's Wife by Pamela Hart at Amazon.com.
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