Release Date: May 2015.
Publisher: Hachette Australia.
Source: From publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Challenge: It was the 10th book I have read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
World War One brings tragedy and loss and sweeping change for those left at home.
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.
The Soldier’s Wife was an incredible story of love and devotion, but it was also much more. It was so brilliantly written that I was drawn into the lives of Ruby and Jimmy from the first page and was left holding my breath as I devoured the rest of it, hardly able to put it down.
Jimmy has been sent off to fight in the war, but for Ruby, the wife he has left behind, she has her own battles to face. She is only 22 but has to endure a lot, from the men finding it hard to accept her in their workforce, to the snotty women who think women shouldn’t work. Ruby charged on through it all, doing what she needed with her head high. She was hard working, tough and persistent. She showed everyone she could do just as good a job as any man, and she grew to love what she did, grew to love working.
One of the things I loved about this book was the friendship Ruby developed with the woman she was renting a room from, Maree, whose husband was also at war. They understood each other and support each other through the ups and downs. I also loved the heartfelt letters dispersed throughout the novel. Not only did we get to see the letters Jimmy sent to Ruby, but the ones he wrote her but kept to himself, ones that were too personal and that he didn’t want the censors to see.
Hart has done such an incredible job of capturing life in 1915. I felt like I was transported back through time. The characters felt so real, so alive, it was if I was reading a diary of a woman from that time rather than a piece of fiction.
The Soldier’s wife was heartbreaking and uplifting, and will have you on the edge of your seat with its many twists and turns. It is an outstanding piece of historical fiction that I cannot recommend highly enough. Even if you don’t usually read historical fiction but are looking for an intense story of love, this book is for you. This was an amazing book and I urge everyone to read it ASAP.
You can add it to your Goodreads HERE.