This is a wonderful, intelligent, evocative and mesmerising 5 star read!
The Soldier’s Wife
Ruby and Jimmy Hawkins are sure their love will last forever, despite Jimmy being sent to Gallipoli only weeks after their marriage. Amid the desperate battles of the Dardanelles, Jimmy dreams of the future they planned together and writes Ruby letters full of love and longing.
Back in Sydney, Ruby must face challenges she never could have imagined as a young country bride. Finding a place in the city and taking a job as a bookkeeper in a timber merchant’s yard, she discovers that working in a man’s world is fraught with complications, especially when her employer suffers a devastating loss and she is expected to take the reins.
When Jimmy returns wounded in both body and spirit, he and Ruby come close to losing everything in the aftermath of war. They must find a new way to live and to love if their marriage is to survive.
This war time novel brings unique voice to this work of historical fiction – it is unusual to see the war depicted from this view point – the view of a woman, a multifaceted view; the view of a wife, facing an uncertain future in her new home in Sydney, NSW, while her husband is overseas deployed in the war, the view of a compassionate friend who is a great support when the Death Knock Telegrams are delivered, the view of a woman bravely entering the realms of a male dominated workplace where her opportunity to work is regarded as a privilege not a right by her male colleagues, and the view of a daughter discovering adult married life and responsibilities outside of the community of her childhood. And a very interesting view point – of the partner of a returned, injured soldier dealing with the physical and invisible injuries that war bestows on him. War leaves its stain on all that it comes in contact with.
This book was a joy to read – it had bold, wonderful, engaging transforming female protagonists on the cusp of emancipation and the narrative was filed with the tension, uncertainties, fear and the drama of war – both on the battlefield and off although most of the setting and action takes place is in inner city Sydney. The First World War is a backdrop that provides the tension and influences the characters life choices and destinies in this narrative. Ruby’s personal story is one that is engaging, positive and realistic of that time and provides a little slice of history for us all to understand: war affects us all, changes everyone and everything.
I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book – historical fiction is not one I usually embrace but my view of historical fiction is rapidly changing, what a gifted writer you are Pamela Hart, thank you.