The Soldier’s Wife

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The Soldier's Wife (Doubleday) Joanna Trollope, book reviewJoanna Trollope is one of my favourite writers and her latest novel, The Soldier’s Wife, is just as good as, if not better than, as all of her other books. This story is a keen observation and fascinating insight into what it is like to be an army wife.

Dan Riley is a major in the British army and is returning home from a six month tour serving in Afghanistan. This should be an exciting time for his wife, Alexa, but she can’t help viewing his return with a certain amount of trepidation. She has been in this position before and knows that she will need to be patient while Dan readjusts to life back home but she also knows that it will be hard. Especially as she is worried about her daughter, Isabel, and she also has young twin daughters who are a bit of a handful!

This time though, things seem even worse than usual. Dan is so remote and will not share any of his experiences in Afghanistan. This is so frustrating for Alexa even though she knows that he is only trying to protect her. Also, Dan is like an impenetrable wall every time Alexa tries to talk to him about her own concerns – the fact that Isabel is so unhappy at boarding school and what she should do about the teaching job that she has just been offered. The couple only seem to succeed in making each other unhappy causing friends and family members to watch with dismay and hope that Dan and Alexa will find a way through this difficult period.

“…there are actually three people in this marriage – the third one being the army!”

The Soldier’s Wife is an excellent read and I was hooked from the very first page. Joanna Trollope is so very good at portraying the relationships between her characters and this book in particular is fascinating as it has the constraints and expectations of army life as a backdrop. Alexa is just expected to get on with things and except Dan’s actions with out questioning them. More than once she is reminded that she knew what she was signing up to when she married him but that does not make things any easier for her. Also, living on the army base means that everyone seems to know what is going on with everyone else and well intentioned concerns often seem like interference. I found that Alexa was a character who was very easy to sympathise with especially when she realises just how unhappy her daughter is at school but feels powerless to help.

I thought that all of the characters in The Soldier’s Wife were excellent and all contributed to the making of a really good story. Sometimes it is the minor characters that really make a good read, and in this book, the characters of George and Eric, Dan’s father and grandfather, are delightful. Both ex-soldiers themselves, they know exactly what Dan and Alexa are going through and make some wonderful kind hearted gestures in an attempt to help.

The Soldier’s Wife is absorbing and easy to read and I hardly wanted to put it down. It is moving in places but also has some lighter moments too. It is definitely an exploration of a very complicated relationship between Alexa, Dan and the army. At one point, like that very famous quote, one of the characters points out that there are actually three people in this marriage – the third one being the army!

Overall, I really loved this book and totally recommend it. I am very grateful to the publishers for sending me a review copy.

The Soldier’s Wife by Joanna Trollope
Published by Doubleday, February 3rd, 2012

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Soldier's Wife, The
by Joanna Trollope

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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