I think I would have given this book 4 stars had I not watched the PBS adaptation of it before I read it. The movie cuts out some secondary characters. So whenever I began a chapter that involved those characters I had to focus and keep reminding myself that just because the character was superfluous in the movie, doesn't mean it won't add to the tone of the book.
That said, what a gruesome, lovely novel. Good to read the occasional book whose love story doesn't pump itself up with hyperbole. They just don't always work out. They fizzle. Their legs get pulled out from under them. This is making me sound bitter. I'm not. Happily married for years now. And I can tell you that my courtship with my husband did not involve birds flying in through windows whenever I needed to dress myself. It was a bit bumpier than that, but thankfully did not involve one of us going to war.
In both versions, I did miss hearing from Jeanne's perspective. How did she justify her pining for her sister's old boyfriend for decades? Was she sitting in her cute little French cottage for decades waiting for Stephen to walk through the door. How did she justify remaining with a man who loved his sister?
What I think this book does very well is show the reader how war can change a young man. It also made me simultaneously appreciate that I did not grow up during a draft and the people who did/do.