The Soldier's Wife

Margaret Leroy. Hyperion/Voice, $14.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-1-4013-4170-1

Leroy (Postcards from Berlin) continues to explore motherhood and marital infidelity, now in the context of the German occupation of the British Channel Islands during WWII. Vivienne de la Mare loves her young daughters Blanche and Millie, but not her marriage, so when her husband is called up to the front, for her it's almost a relief. Then the German army occupies her town, and Vivienne is increasingly torn between her sympathies for the POWs and her budding feelings for Gunther, a German officer who has moved in next door. She and Gunther begin an affair, but she remains committed to protecting and nurturing her daughters as they grow up in this tense, dangerous environment, with waning hope of their father's return. Leroy lovingly portrays the era and the isolated Guernsey landscape while simultaneously offering an unsparing view of the specific horrors of war. Colorful, rich descriptions, particularly regarding food, are more affecting than depictions of Vivienne and her love affair, which is almost entirely devoid of warmth or passion. More compelling are Vivienne's interactions with the preteen Millie, who becomes complicit in her mother's actions even as Vivienne tries to safeguard her innocence. (July)