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The Soldier's Wife

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,761 Ratings  ·  1,290 Reviews
Vivienne de la Mare lives at Le Colombier, an old farmhouse in a secluded valley on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, with her two daughters and her acerbic mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. Vivienne's husband is away in the army, and the marriage is an unhappy one, regardless. And then the Germans arrive. Vivienne does what she can to “keep up the side.” She rations ...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mandy Blair Crider
This book is simply beautiful. Beautifully written and such admirable characters that left such an imprint on my soul. Gorgeous story of love during WW2. Love this! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!
Jul 13, 2011 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne, Chrissie,
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 fascination.

The 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 p
Jul 24, 2011 Felice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 he ...more
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
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 have.

When 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
Meg Ulmes
Aug 03, 2011 Meg Ulmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 more 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.
Aug 25, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
2.5 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 chest:

PLEASE 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, mora
Emily Crowe
Margaret Leroy's The Soldier's Wife takes place during the Nazi occupation of the island of Guernsey during WWII, and its third person narrative follows Vivienne de la Mare, a woman who must daily walk the fine edge between patriotism and practicality. After her husband enlists, it falls to her to keep her daughters and her ailing mother-in-law safe in a world that has suddenly become alien to her. When German officers requisition the house next door and turn out to be rather neighborly, Vivienn ...more
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Recommended? Yes

Truthfully, I found it a bit difficult to get into the story in the beginning, but the prose is simple enough that I continued reading. This book was told in first person, but I honestly thought it could have been told in third person without detracting from the story. Many lines seemed like something you would read in a third person perspective novel, but then I'd see "I said" after a line of dialogue, reminding me that this book is indeed first person. Furthe
Apr 15, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My take: I had no idea there were these little cow islands between the British Isles and the continent until I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a few years ago. Now I just want to go visit them. But definitely not during a war. Even more definitely not during a time they are occupied by another country working on a little genocide. Just to summarize, there are a few little islands nobody really cared much about that happened to be strategically located between the European ...more
Emily Collins
Dec 16, 2011 Emily Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coming back into reality can be horribly startling at times. That's the best way to discern an excellent book from a simply okay book. It's the excellent books that make you forget where you are in time and space, entirely blocking out the clock, one could spend hours reading an excellent book and think it was only minutes. Perhaps, of course, in my particular office this may be a problem, but it's all worth it in the end.
I hadn't, in a very long while, read a book that made me forget myself, be
Mar 05, 2015 Holly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I didn't love this book, ended up being an ok read. Usually I feel quite 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 th ...more
Erika Robuck
Jul 04, 2011 Erika Robuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set on the English Channel Island of Guernsey during the Nazi occupation of WWII, The Soldier’s Wife is the story of Vivienne de la Mare, her affair with a German soldier, and her relationship with her family and neighbors. When we meet Vivienne she is caring for her mother-in-law and her two daughters while her husband is away fighting for the allied forces in London. From the onset, Vivienne is faced with agonizing decisions; the first of which is whether or not to get on the last boat to Lond ...more
Carol Brill
Aug 10, 2014 Carol Brill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing. Loved the voice and the finely drawn characters in this story of love, unlikely friendships, and impossible choices
Angel Royal
Because this book was set on the island of Guernsey, I thought I would love it. But I didn't. Ethically, the plot made me angry--very "Bridges of Madison County"-ish. I gave it 3 stars because there was good character development--even though I. Didn't like the main character. It's books like these that make us want to justify affairs and blame them on circumstances. They make us want to believe that the end justifies the means. But, wasn't that the thinking that got Germany into the mess it was ...more
Jul 15, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was glad I was on vacation when I started this book because I couldn't put it down. It is beautifully written. The descriptions of the sights and smells of the island make you want to visit, but it is easy to imagine what it is like. It also shows that not all German soldiers are monsters like are portrayed in most. WWII stories. Some are kind people who had normal lives and had no choise about serving. If you enjoyed Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you'll love this book.
Aug 04, 2011 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
A quick read, and WWII novels always provide such potential for melodrama. After reading the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I enjoyed getting another Guernsey point of view. Vivienne and her daughters were loveable and I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing whether Gunther was good or bad.
Elaine Dowling
This is very much the story of the narrator -- and I didn't like her. It was a slow read, and I almost put it down a couple of times. Some things were very well done, others not so much. The only reason I gave it three stars instead of two is that I think there are parts of the book that will stay with me. After a good night's sleep, it is back down to 2 stars. They can't get food on the island during the occupation (which is well documented), but cigarettes seemed plentiful with no explanation. ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably liked this book more than it deserved, but there are two very specific reasons for the four good stars I give it:

1. The author didn't take the easy way out with the ending. Of course, to a large degree, history itself determined the ending, but the author's choices for the paths the characters took were unexpected (I was expecting sappy) and interesting.

2. The author clearly has a talent for capturing the mother/child relationship within the pages of a novel. Fellow mothers will spot
Thank you Goodreads for letting me win this book!
I had never heard of Guernsey until I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which is a book I love. Like the Potato Peel Pie Society The Soldier's Wife also takes place in Guernsey during the German Occupation in WWII. Vivienne, who is a resident of Guernsey and has a husband who is a soldier fighting for Britain is left to care for her 2 daughters and mother-in-law while he is away. When Germany occupies Guernsey German soldiers
Apr 20, 2013 Mmars rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society opened my eyes to this Windward isle, but left me wanting more knowledge about Guernsey's role during World War II and what it's like today. Leroy deftly weaves that history into this story. She also presents a different social situation. Vivienne, the soldier's wife, is more affluent and not native to the island, but has lived there for about fifteen years when the story begins. She lives in a coastal center occupied by German soldiers. Her unfa ...more
Melanie Coombes
May 16, 2011 Melanie Coombes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what an amazing book. I didn't want to put this one down. The writing is so descriptive and the wartime plot often made for a suspenseful read.

This beautiful and moving story tells the story of Vivienne de la Mare. She lives on the island of Guernsey during WWII. Her husband is off fighting in the war and she is left behind to care for her 2 daughters and her ailing mother-in-law. Next door a group of German soldiers have taken up residence as part of the German occupation of the island. V
Lydia Laceby
Jul 18, 2012 Lydia Laceby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally Reviewed at Novel Escapes

I picked up The Soldier’s Wife a few weeks ago after the cover drew me in and the story had me adding to my pile. Having loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I had high hopes for this novel and wasn’t disappointed. The writing itself was stunning as was the depiction of Guernsey and the story stole a bit of my heart. The Soldier’s Wife will definitely sit on my shelf to be reread.

What stood out most for me was how astounded and left in awe
Apr 30, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic, wwii
3.75 Stars. Vivienne de la Mare lives in an old farmhouse with her two daughters on Guernsey in the Channel Islands during WWII. Her husband is away fighting in the English army, and it quickly becomes apparent to the reader that Vivienne's marriage is a loveless and unhappy one. The island suddenly becomes occupied by German troops, some moving in in the house beside her own. Even though Vivienne tries hard to remain aloof for the sake of loyalty (to her country and husband), she eventually ent ...more
Vanessa Fenn
Apr 09, 2012 Vanessa Fenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2011 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finishing
slow going so far. I want to like this.

Edited to Add....
I could not finish this book. The further into it I read, the more annoyed I became. I feel like I need to read the sparseness of Hemingway to cleanse myself. Way too many words used to tell this story.

The setting was lushly described. I was so intrigued, I looked up Guernsey on Google Earth. The author spends a lot of time and great detail on the food, flowers, and place.

However, too much is gauzy and ephemeral.

She barely develops char
I was disappointed by this novel, the story had potential, the problem I had was with the way it was written. The author sets up a story with a variety of good juicy conflicts and then fails to explore the character's feelings about them. The characters were not well developed and I had a difficult time viewing the relationship between Vivien and Gunther as believable. I didn't feel the love between them, honestly I didn't feel the lust very much either. And the ending was just like the rest of ...more
Oct 03, 2012 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book powerful and somewhat dark. Vivienne is an unhappy wife living on the channel island of Guernsey when the British forces abandon them and the Nazi occupying force arrives. She is a dedicated mother, devoted to caring for her two daughters and her ailing mother-in-law who is increasingly confused. She feels isolated from her estranged husband who had carried on an affair for many years before he joined the British forces. She finds herself deeply attracted to a German officer wh ...more
May 08, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In June 1940, the German army decided the island of Guernsey would be strategically important land to occupy for the war effort against England. This left Vivienne de la Mare with a significant decision to make. Should she stay on the island or flee to London’s supposed safety? Vivienne decides to stay on the island and protect her 2 daughters and mother-in-law from the war the best she can. Her husband was away fighting the war and Vivienne struggles to maintain a normal life and to shield her ...more
Jeannie Mancini
Margaret Leroy’s upcoming summer release of The Soldier’s Wife will surely be one to be read and discussed in many book club groups, as it is a story that offers a lot to contemplate.

Vivienne de la Mare, living on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands just off the coast of England, is a housewife raising two young daughters just after WWII breaks out and takes her husband away to war. Not thinking that their island will be affected, the islanders get a rude awakening one day as German p
(This review also appears on

I'm not going to summarise the plot of this novel as that has been done more than adequately many times already, but I have to say that whilst I found this book an interesting enough read, for me it just wasn't anywhere near as good as what I had been expecting. I perceived that this would be a book focusing on the impact the German occupation of Guernsey had on the islanders, intermingled with that of a romance between an islander and a German soldier;
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I grew up in the New Forest. As a child I wrote elaborate fantasy stories that I never showed to anyone. But around age 12 I stopped writing, and didn't start again till my mid-twenties.

(from the Biography page of her website)

I went to Oxford to study music, at St. Hilda's College. In my twenties I tried all sorts of things - music therapy, play-leading with children with disabilities, work in a
More about Margaret Leroy...

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“But life doesn't wait - it trickles between your fingers, trickles away....” 9 likes
“I learned in that moment that there are different darknesses. That there is ordinary darkness, like the night in the countryside, where, even on a night with no moon, as you stare things loom, take form; and there is another darkness, a darkness so profound you cannot begin to imagine it, cannot conjure it up in your mind. A darkness that blots out all you remember or hope for. A darkness that teaches that all that consoles you is false.” 7 likes
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