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The Collaborator Loved it Something about books with an island setting always draw me in I've become greatly intrigued with The Channel Islands in particular ever since reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society This book only served to reinforce that fascinationThe Soldier's Wife had so much to say about human dignity and perseverance and the make do spirit and compassion and yes passion too Sure the inhabitants of Guernsey Island who survived the Nazi occupation between 1939 to 1945 provide a rich backdrop for a novel but it takes a talented writer to transport the reader to that time and place Margaret Leroy did just that for meIt seems to me that war disallows us to look at our enemy on an individual personal basis instead labeling an entire group as wrong andor evil And yet we know that each side is made up of human beings with homes and families and pets and talents much like each of us The Soldier's Wife gives us a glimpse into people forced through circumstances beyond their control to live side by side while technically remaining enemies I believe this story will linger with me a long time Ever read The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene It’s about a Jewish teenager named Patty whose town in Arkansas is to house a German prisoner of war camp Despite the ill will and fears regarding the German nation Patty befriends one of the young soldiers in the camp Her friendship with him is an escape from her hard home life and from loneliness but when their relationship is discovered Patty has to choose between popular opinion her family and this soldier who means so much to herIt is a wonderful novel It made a huge impression on me as a girl and now I think I’ve read the adult version It is The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy The basic bones in German Soldier and Soldier’s Wife are the same two women involved with the enemy during wartime much decide where their loyalties lie That is a good start to a drama rightThe soldier’s wife is Vivienne She and her young family live in Guernsey When the war begins Vivienne’s husband is off to fight and she is becomes a single parent and the caretaker to her husband’s mother Facing the threat of German invasion many of the inhabitants of the islands send their children away for safety’s sake but Vivienne feels compelled to keep hers with her in the islandThe German Invasion does come and with it a harsh occupation Normalcy is a thing of the past Vivienne’s life is uickly taken over by food fuel and every other thing shortages and the increasingly strict restrictions placed on the citizens of Guernsey by the German soldiers The kindness of one of the enemy soldiers occupying the house next door is the beginning of Vivienne’s affair or her collaboration depending on how you look at it Leroy is most successful and entertaining when writing about the day to day workings of Vivienne’s life and Guernsey itself She paints an evocative portrait of island life and a woman juggling multiple complex relationships in an extreme situation but never captures the desperation this existence would have to bring onHistorically The Soldier’s Wife is World War 2 lite The author breezes through all that hard war stuff and fails to take any advantage of some of the real horrors on Guernsey like the use of slave labor The heavy concentration on Vivienne's assignations that stay secret for years Really On and occupied island miss the intensity they could have had if Leroy brought of the war into the novel If you know nothing about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands not to worry you will finish The Soldier’s Wife just as knowledge free It’s too bad I like the setting and all of the ideas behind this novel but as it turns out The Soldier's Wife is no Summer Of My German Soldier This has to be one of my favourite books of the year so far; I enjoyed how the author shunned typical historical fiction patterns and chose to set her story on the isle of Guernsey during world war two Historically we are perhaps guilty of forgetting about the inhabitants of the small islands caught in the crossfire they were in 'no mans land' and felt the brunt of much of the Occupation Vivienne is a mother of two young daughters and a carer to her ailing mother in law maintaining her home while her husband is away fighting with the allied forces during the war Her island is gradually inhabited by German soldiers who commander the homes and possessions of the islanders Suddenly the life of her family is dominated by the rules and regulations of the Nazi's; curfews are put into place you cannot drive your own car and food is scarce Meanwhile a POW camp is set up on the island and Nazi's are committing such acts of cruelty to reinforce Hitler's agenda With such a sensitive subject I felt the author was respectful of the historical plot of her novel She shows humanity on both sides of the war; how kindness can be found even in the midst of wartime Vivienne is an amazing woman; I enjoyed the fact the novel was told from her point of view The reasons for her actions are not always immediately obvious but she is a kind and smart woman Her forbidden love for a German officer is perhaps not too far fetched; I'm sure there are untold stories of many similar events throughout the warFor fans of historical fiction this is a pure delight I particularly enjoy novels set in world war two with a romantic theme so this was just my cup of tea I look forward to reading of the authors work; she is my new favourite historical fictional author 25 stars but I rounded up because I feel nice today Also as a sort of atonement for this bit that I just have to get off my chestPLEASE DO NOT EVER NAME YOUR ROMANTIC INTEREST GUNTHER I am a child of the '90s and '00s when I hear Gunther I think this If you live under a rock and have never seen an episode of the hit sitcom Friends that is Gunther the comically creepy coffee shop worker who is obsessed with Rachel So yeah Gunther was supposed to be this intense attractive morally grey complex character and instead I couldn't help but picture him as creepy Friends Gunther But alas I guess I can't really get mad at the author for that It did make it hard to take the book seriously though This is like the fifth book I've read like this where the shy uiet yet somehow inexplicably entrancing young woman draws the attention of a gentlemanly yet morally confused and dashing yet wounded German soldierofficer It's not a bad story but I've grown a bit tired of that sort of plot While the story was interesting enough to keep me reading the characters weren't actually that original or well rendered and the pacing and focus of the story was inconsistent the first half is focused a bit too heavily on a romance which is then almost abandoned in the second half to focus on the forced labor workers The writing itself was decent though a bit heavy handed and preachy about the moral complexities of 1930s 1940s Europe I'm not exactly sorry I read this book but it made me realize I really need to stop reading these types of books I've just gone through too many of them at this point If you really liked this one I would recommend Sarah's Key Those Who Save Us The Things We Cherished The Postmistress and The Kommandant's Girl If you want a book with a similar setting and issues but a fresher takedifferent approach take a look at Postcards from No Man's Land The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Gone to Soldiers or Five uarters of the Orange Sorry for the lengthy book list but I'm always looking for WWII fiction recs so I like to try and return the favorSPOILERS BELOW Just one last note I swear to God enough with the cleverly disguised morning sickness written into books like these If a main character is having illicit sex and then throws up at any point for any purpose in the story I will immediately assume they are pregnant I wish authors would stop trying to have a surprise pregnancy as like a little plot twist We all see it coming like a mile off it has ceased to be a twist or interesting or original Just had to get that off my chest It really bugs me I loved Potato Peel Society when I read it a few years ago so when I saw that this novel was set on Guernsey during WWII I had to read it and I'm glad that I did It is a richly written novel with a bit serious narrative than Potato I did not want the book to end and it was worth every page Well drawn characters a believable plot and appealing setting description make this a memorable novel This story of a woman's Vivienne De La Mare bravery and fortitude during the German occupation ofGuernsey during WWII; a channel Island off the coast of EnglandHer husband Eugene was fighting for England in GermanyHer home was shared by her two daughters and her mother in lawShe could have fled to England but thought the boat already had too many people on boardThe German officers take up residence next door Then she falls in love with Gunther one of the officersHer life is never the way she expected it to beI love the grace and poetic style of the author's writing I want to read of her books We all have such richness in us the lives we have lived the people we have loved all the things we have longed for Wherever we go whatever happens we carry this ruchness within us Whatever is done to us Whatever is taken from us We should always be grateful for every gift life gives us and cherish what we haveWhen the island of Guernsey is taken over by German soldiers during WWII Vivienne worries that she will not be able to protect her mother in law and two daughters from the savage horrors of war But when a small group of soldiers move into the house next store and Vivienne and one of the officers begin to fall in love she learns that life is than just simple black and whiteI absolutely adored this book and for so many reasons First of all the writing was just to die for Such luscious and vivid depictions of the beauty of Guernsey which made me completely fall in love with the place and feel as if I was really there Here is one of my favorite passages; Blanche and I would cycle down the lane that leads to the shore a lane that is shadowed and secret with branches that meet overhead and musical with the singing the streams that run down to the water there; and then suddenly wewould come out into light at the end of the lane to the beach that is held between tall cliffs like a jewel cradled between cupped palms to thr sleek wet sand and the glistening jade green clarity of the seaI also loved how very honest this book was Despite the forbidden romance that took place it was not a book that showed the war through rose colored glasses as they say War is horrific and brutal and that fact is demonstrated uite accurately throughout this book But I honestly feel like the story was made even beautiful because of this Because this is a story about people and human nature and the way hope and love survives even in the darkest of times The thing is I'm not very practical I tell him It would be useful now with the shortages and everything if only I were practical if I were a different kind of person I suppose I wasn't really designed for such times He smiles slightly but I see a kind of sadness in his eyes There are few of us Vivienne who were designed for such timesAnd honestly this book really summed up for me in one conversation between two characters the stark reality of human nature during World War II or of any time really Not everyone who fought was an evil person In many cases they were people who were made to commit evil acts which is not the same thing I have to tell you he says haltingly We didn't know the things that were being done in our name Many of us who served in the army believing in our country that we had to restore our pride to recover the land we had lost when we saw what had been done we weptNot all of us but some of usHow could you not have known I struggle There are no words big enough I mean even here on Guernsey you could see the brutality You do your job he says You do what you have to do You don't always look around you You don't think about everything You may feel that is wrong and you would be right to feel that But that is how people behave Most of us most of the time People behave how they are told to behave as those around them behaveWhen you grow up you learn in history class that wars are black and white This side was good and that side was bad But then when you look closely at it you find that isn't the case at all It's just people acting as people do with all their varying shades of gray So basically this was a very human story And it made me empathize with many of the characters even ones I wouldn't have expected toThis was a book I absolutely loved The world is so full of terrible things All you can do is be kind I didn't love this book ended up being an ok read Usually I feel uite a bit of emotions when I read about WWII but this one didn't provoke any for me I never became involved in the characters I felt so distanced from them that it was hard to care about what happened to them The writing was ok but there were hardly any actual conversations all you got were little snippets And because of that you never really got to know anybody The main protagonist Vivienne was very weak Who allows their 56 year daughter run around on her own with another small child in a German occupied place The love affair between her and a German officer didn't make any sense They talked a couple times and next thing they're in bed together All you got from them were snippets of a couple conversations they had Hardly a grand love affair in my opinion I guess I never saw any love between them I just didn't get it Writing was decent but the story was very blah By the ending I was feeling that's itWhat did she do for her family She constantly put them in harm's way What did she do for love Nothing She had a lot of unprotected sex 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 loveAs 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 strangerIncludes a reading group guide for book clubs This story definitely makes you think and uestion what would you do for your family Riveting story set in WWII

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