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The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
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's review
Sep 11, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012

A beautifully-written and heart-breaking story. The Bungalow appealed to me for two reasons: the WWII backdrop (my favorite time period to read) and the Bora-Bora island setting. How unique and exotic! I ended up falling for the story for much more than these reasons, though.

It is a bittersweet love story with a bit of a murder mystery involved. Having read many WWII stories, I really appreciated the beautiful setting and the different perspective on the war. Rather than seeing the war from the front lines, I was taken to the behind the scenes efforts of the nurses. Less action, more peaceful but still meaningful. It's under these circumstances that Anne Calloway truly finds and loses love for the first time.

In the late Summer of 1942, Anne finds herself in Bora-Bora serving as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps. She is both ambitious and also naive. She leaves behind a comfortable home and a fiance. Soon she meets Westry Green and falls in love and together they share meetings at an abandoned bungalow - their own secret paradise.

Everything captured me about this story. Anne and Westry's love story, the murder mystery that takes seventy years to solve, and the camaraderie of the nurses. There is Kitty, who is Anne's childhood friend, Mary, Liz and Stella. They share a bond that allows them to share their heartbreaks, heartaches and dreams. There are also secrets and betrayals that break some of them apart.

In many instances I thought Anne was a bit too naive, but she's a character I really felt for. Some of the events were predictable. The mystery is a minor one but takes many decades to finally solve. At this point Anne has grown old but her story is not quite finished. Her story interested me from beginning to end and I liked how things turned out.

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