Margaret Leroy wrote a very intriguing book that made me take a deeper look at the idea of war time relationships. “The Soldier’s Wife” tells the story of a woman living on the Channel Island of Guernsey off the coast of Great Britain. German soldiers invaded this peaceful island during WWII. Vivienne was caring for two young daughters and a mother-in-law while her husband is away fighting, when German soldiers move in as neighbors. At first she is terrified by what could happen but as she watches the men in their daily routines she becomes intrigued by one of them named Gunther. They meet, fall in love, and start a passionate affair. They agree that they must keep it a secret. Along the way Vivienne is forced to make decisions she is unprepared for. Is it ok to accept chocolate from a lover who is also the enemy? What about medical care? Chocolate rates right up there with medical care for me.
They spend time getting to know each other as people apart from guns, uniforms and war. They share a deep intimacy that is lacking in both of their marriages, but as atrocities surface near by, Vivienne can no longer ignore her doubts about her lover. Is he telling her the truth? She ultimately must decide if she should trust him with the safety of her family.
I was fascinated with that question. What if someone provides you with food, medical care, and pulls strings to protect you from the enemy? What if they don’t agree with what their country is doing and is following orders? What if they have your best interest at heart but are the enemy? And what if you love them? As a mother I know what I would do but the lines aren’t always drawn so clearly during war time. I liked this book a lot. First because it is a great British story, second because I can’t help but be intrigued by the island of Guernsey (which was such a mysterious backdrop) and thirdly the complicated relationships Ms. Leroy presents so well in this novel made it very enjoyable. I would love to visit there some time.
So, I’ll leave you with the question…How important is personal happiness?