The Soldier's Wife
By Margaret Leroy
(Hyperion, Paperback, 9781401341701, 416pp.)
Publication Date: June 2011
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A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier's Wife asks "What would you do for your family?", "What should you do for a stranger?", and "What would you do for love?" As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, 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 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, and the restrictions placed 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 she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger. Includes a reading group guide for book clubs.
Margaret Leroy studied music at Oxford and has been a music therapist, play leader, shop assistant, and social worker. For fifteen years she has worked as a social worker and counselor, specializing in marital therapy and child protection. Her books have been published in nine languages, and her first novel, Trust, has been translated into five languages and was broadcast in February 2003 as a Granada TV drama.
- The book opens with Vivienne reading fairy tales to her younger daughter, Millie. Discuss the ways in which The Soldier’s Wife is like a fairy tale, as well as the important ways in which it is not. Discuss, too, the running motif of fairy tales throughout the book, including what Vivienne reads to Millie out of Angie’s book of Guernsey stories. Is Leroy using the fairy tales as symbols, or metaphors, or as a way of constructing a thematic statement for the book? (Or, perhaps, all three?)
"With its stunning and evocative description of the Guernsey landscape, its subtle and astute depiction of a woman's relationship with her children, her lover, and her husband, this absorbing novel is utterly beguiling."—Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister