Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

Hardback: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Even before her eyes were open, Isabel could tell that the house was awake.
Review Quote: 
'The Soldier's Wife is a cracking read and has clearly been thoroughly researched. All the little details which animate a novel ring true. ....compassionate, humourous and topical' --Spectator, Feb 2012
My Opinion: A sensitive portrayal of forces life and how families cope with the aftermath of deployment. 

I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is many years since I last read one, though I have a few reclining on my bookshelves, somehow they never got read whilst I was living abroad! Having now rectified this by reading this latest title, I now intend to catch up with her back catalogue just as soon as I can. Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Certainly 'The Soldier's Wife' is a sensitive portrayal of forces life and how families cope with the aftermath of deployment. 

Alexa Riley is married to Dan, a major in the British Army currently on a six month tour of Afghanistan. Coping alone with toddler twins and a teenager she is very much looking forward to his imminent return from deployment to have his support again with the trials and tribulations of family life. Dan though is a highly trained fighter and returning to domesticity is not an easy one, as he continues to focus on the problems faced by his unit rather than those of his own family. Failing to connect with Alexa, the couple seem to be heading for marital disaster as Dan continues to remain oblivious to family issues that need resolving. The 21C forces wife has changed and while Alexa is prepared to support her husband, unlike earlier generations who gave up everything to do so, she is determined to keep her own identity and lead a fulfilling life of her own. Will these issues be resolved?

Sadly the storyline in this novel is one that far too many forces families around the world face on a daily basis. It is impossible to fully understand the issues without personal experience but reading this will go some way to giving you an insight. Recommended to fans of contemporary fiction and anyone that wants to try to understand a little more about the difficulties of family life within the forces. 

I am including the link to a very interesting interview that Joanna Trollope gave to the BBC on the difficulties facing military families.  BBC Interview

Joanna Trollope introduces The Soldier's Wife.

Author Profile

Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   YouTube Video

BBC Interview   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website


  1. I read this book Linda, and I know how she felt . I do know and understand all the issues. My dad was in the Royal Air Force, I married (twice) to men in the Royal Air Force and my son is in the Royal Air Force. The only difference being is that Dan is an Officer in charge of a unit , and my men folk are or were all Airmen. .My son is the one who was deployed to Afghan and experienced the difficulties of a War Zone.

    I would say yes a good read , but you are right, it would be hard to understand the Forces if you do not have an insight . take care xx

    1. You would certainly understand the issues raised by this novel very well then Anne.

  2. The only experience I have had with life in the forces was when I stayed with friends at an air force base in Aviano. I can't imagine how a married couple can manage with so many obstacles.
    Sounds like a good read - thanks for posting.

    1. A forces marriage is definitely not an easy one.

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