The Soldier's Wife Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Reading this story gave me a lot of pause for thought so forgive me if I ramble but I'd like to make note of some of the things I took away from it, rather than give another synopsis.
Although I am aware of the many roles which women played during wartime, it's not often that you hear much about the roles which the women at home played, the myriad struggles they endured on a daily basis and their methods of coping...all of which were exacerbated by the fact that they were women, and thus subordinate.
I felt in awe of these women left behind to fight their own new wars while their men went off to battle.
The absence of their partners, their fear and longing, the not knowing, the sheer terror at the sight of the telegram boy heading in their direction, and the daily struggles to cope with what that all meant.
Apart from being a very compelling story about one particular soldier's wife, this book gives a thoroughly enlightening look at what were to become so many deviations from the social norms that arose with the onset of WW1, and the resultant effects to the status quo...much to the chagrin of many.
Few could have envisaged the long and short term effects of a war which thankfully didn't quite reach our shores, yet those effects would be many and radical all the same.
The huge toll to our population of young men alone almost brought this country to its knees, and was the major cause for immediate and necessary changes to the existing social system, such as training and employing women to do what was traditionally mens' work.
This proved to be a very liberating time for women but would later become problematic when the men returned and needed their jobs back, effectively making the women redundant from the workforce and committing them once again to such menial positions more befitting a woman. This would be a hard pill to swallow.
This story speaks about the relationships of women during this time...the camaraderie, the solidarity forged when the men went away to the war and the women held the fort at home.
How very little time young couples had to learn each other before he left for duty...and how suddenly alone and vulnerable many women now found themselves to be, once he did.
By necessity they now had to become independent and versatile in order to manage this new, even alien, lifestyle.
And yet, they were thwarted at every turn by dogged convention and propriety just the same, in spite of their newfound circumstances of needing to provide for themselves and any children or other dependents, they were still expected to conform to the social standards becoming of a woman.
Working women were continually frowned upon by the assumed superiority of the men in any workplace, their positions of employment always subordinate and their wages considerably lower than those of a man...regardless of her workload...with little, if any, opportunity for advancement.
This left them open to all kinds of exploitation from unscrupulous employers and male employees who chose to abuse their own positions.
Women were not expected to have career aspirations, and their futures were pretty much decided by established conventions, that is that they would automatically aspire to their future role of [house] wife and mother, conforming to accepted social standards.. the status quo.
All of that suddenly changed when the war broke out and women found themselves having to fulfill both roles, wife and mother as well as husband and breadwinner.
A soldiers' wage was not enough to cover the costs of paying rent and services, as well as putting food on the table, so women were obliged to seek employment.
Also the large void left in the workforce by enlisted men was having to be filled, by necessity, with women taking up the slack.
This gave women the skills to perform all manner of occupations outside of (but not excluding) their usual "women's work" roles, it also unwittingly gave them an independence they never imagined as it made them autonomous.
A sort of unexpected silver lining to their predicaments, they learned to enjoy this newfound freedom which came with being of independent means.
Before embarking on this journey into war, many young men made hasty marriage proposals to their girlfriends, many of whom were first loves...young budding loves.
These young couples made promises to be faithful to their commitments to one another and to resume their relationships where they left off, when the war was done.
Who knew what was afoot?
As soldiers returned, people reconnected and tried to cling to the "old" status quo, in an effort to return to "normal" by trying to enforce the previous established protocols. Perhaps in an effort to find some normalcy where things no longer made sense...but so much had changed.
Surely those earlier naive promises were now by virtue of experience rendered void?
How could things possibly go on in the same way as before?
When the soldier was so unalterably changed by the firsthand atrocities of war, and she was changed by the conditions, through the necessity to adjust to the evolving consequences of that war. Neither one is the same person that made those commitments.
So we see that the casualties of this war were far, far reaching and would prove to be many and varied.
This story tells how these combined conditions affected this particular soldier and his wife.
I have the utmost pride and respect for the men and women who served in the wars, and also for those who fought to maintain the home front.
They all paid a price, many paid the ultimate price. None were left unscathed in some way, their involvements cannot be compared or measured, they are all equally worthy of merit in their own rights.
Bless them all for their brave contributions towards a better future.
A highly recommended read 4★s
Ruby was boarding with Maree and her small son Edward in Sydney; Maree’s husband Theo was also away at war and the two women slowly became good friends. Ruby knew she needed to find a job as money was tight – there were many women working in men’s positions with the war on, and she was determined she would be the same. When she took the job as bookkeeper in Curry & Son’s timber yard in Sydney, a short walking distance from her residence, Ruby was nervous; unsure of what the future would bring. The men she worked with were resentful of her but she hoped in time they would come to accept her.
When Jimmy returned home a year after he’d left, he was terribly wounded; a changed man. His stay in the Army hospital was a long one but eventually he was able to leave, going to the home Ruby had made for them. But they had many and varied challenges to face – Ruby was an independent young woman, not the young girl Jimmy had married in Bourke; Jimmy was devastated and shell shocked. Would their fragile love be strong enough in the aftermath of a tragic war? What would happen to them; to their marriage?
Wow! What an absolutely brilliant historical fiction novel The Soldier’s Wife is! Based on the true story of the author Pamela Hart’s grandfather as told to her by her father, The Soldier’s Wife is heart wrenching, sad, uplifting and filled with hope. Beautifully written, the characters are so incredibly real. I loved little Eddie – the light hearted moments when the author adds a child’s comment – “He’ll have a head on him in the morning,” Maree said. Eddie frowned and told her, very seriously, “He already has a head, Mummy.”
The Soldier’s Wife by Aussie author Pamela Hart is one I have no hesitation in recommending highly.