The de la Mare household, filled entirely with women, is not unlike many households on the tiny British island of Guernsey during World War II, where most men have left to join the army in its fight against the encroaching German forces. Vivienne feels little difference, however, in her husband Eugene's absence from the life they lived when he resided at home as she raises their two daughters and cares for her ailing mother-in-law. He may have slept in the same bed, but the distance between them, then, was just as great.
Her life does change, though, when the Germans bomb their island and then occupy it, building work camps for prisoners of war and taking up residence in the homes abandoned by Guernsey citizens who fled. The house next door to Vivienne's becomes one such German residence, and when several soldiers of the German army begin living there, including one tall, intriguing man with a long pink scar on his face, Vivienne is forced to negotiate a new life fraught with new rules, new faces, and a dangerous but fulfilling new love.
An intricate historical novel that moves deftly between mystery and romance, The Soldier's Wife depicts domestic and military life—and the horrors of war—with poetic, evocative prose. Margaret Leroy's book about a woman whose unassuming life is irrevocably changed by war is a quiet meditation on bravery, compassion, and the resilience of human nature.