The Soldier’s Wife is the story of Isabel, a young girl living in England with a father who is due to return from the war in Afghanistan. Her mother and siblings have problems of their own, and like any military family they work together to find solutions when it all begins to fall apart and unravel right under their eyes.
Isabel is not able to adjust to her boarding school and channels her frustrations into acting out and running away. One of Isabel’s siblings suffers from medical issues, and her mother cannot give up on dreams which will never be realized, even when opportunities for a better life fall right into her lap. Her father Dan does not cling to his family upon his return from duty, but rather finds any excuse to stay away from home. He uses the guise of helping others with their failing marriages, while ignoring his own problems at home. The family is dysfunctional on many levels, and so is the extended family and the friends mentioned in the book.
Isabel eventually provides the catalyst to try to get the family back on track. She learns to focus on what is important and finally understands what it means to be successful on some level. She strives to achieve her goals while her mother learns to find hope and a way to keep her family together. Her mother stands up on her own and lessens the influence of her husband’s attitude on her own perspective of life and family.
The characters in The Soldier’s Wife are realistic and they genuinely care for others. However, Joanna Trollope spends a lot of time developing the issues of all family members and in some ways there are too many people to keep track of. I would have much preferred a story line which focused on the transformation of Isabel and her mother and that showed how the two characters came together.
I recommend the book to anyone interested in learning more about the challenges many military families face.
After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.