The Soldier's Wife
by Joanna Trollope
published by Simon & Schuster
Why Read?: Review
Challenges: British Books, 100 Books in a Year
I have never read anything by Joanna Trollope before, but if The Soldier’s Wife is any indication of her work, I will definitely be reading more. Told with heart and realistic detail, The Soldier’s Wife puts the reader right in the middle of a modern British Army family.
Alexa Riley has been looking forward to her husband Dan’s return from six months in Afghanistan. She knows things might be rough at first as Dan adjusts back to normal life, but she does not think it would be as bad as it actually is. Dan would rather spend time with the guys than at home, and when he is at home, he would rather deal with saying goodnight to their twin toddlers than talk to Alexa about what is going on in her life. Alexa would love to take a steady teaching job, but that is hard to do with a husband who is a Major in the Army and looking for a promotion. But what is really bothering her is the behavior of her eldest daughter, Isabel, who seems to be acting out at her boarding school ever since her stepdad returned. Dan might need time to mentally come home from war, but Alexa is not sure how much longer she can hold on.
Now I have never been in a situation that even remotely compares to Alexa’s, but Trollope’s writing really put me in not only Alexa’s shoes, but the whole Riley family’s. Trollope’s expert characterization, especially emotional characterization, is what carries The Soldier’s Wife. The alternating viewpoints really help the reader empathize with Alexa, Isabel, Dan, Dan’s father, and the rest of the characters. And it is this emotional buy-in that keeps the reader fully engaged page after page.
The Soldier’s Wife is a wonderfully realistic work of fiction. Joanna Trollope shows remarkable prowess as really getting the reader into the minds of her characters— a feat that is truly commendable.