London, 1944. Two young nurses meet at a train station with a common purpose: to join the war effort. Scarlet longs for the chance to find her missing fiancé, Thomas, and to prove to her family—and to herself—that she’s stronger than everybody thinks. Nursing is in Ellie’s blood, but her humble background is vastly different from Scarlet’s privileged upbringing. Though Ellie puts on a brave face, she’s just as nervous as Scarlet about what awaits them in France.
In Normandy, the two friends soon encounter the seemingly unflappable Lucy. Scarlet and Ellie are in awe of her courage and competence, but the experienced nurse is well aware of the dangers of the job they’ve chosen—and even she is terrified they won’t make it home alive.
Pushed to their limits by the brutality of a world at war, Scarlet, Ellie and Lucy will need to rely on each other—and the power of their friendship—to survive.
Wives of War by Soraya Lane is a story of despair and of darkness in the trying times of 1940’s that test the faith and the courage of unsound heroes—of doctors and nurses on the battle field, caring for the injured, of soldiers fighting for freedom. The devastation described in this book clutched at my heart. It is stark and heartbreaking. I felt the deep pain of these characters. They are each strong and capable in their unique way yet their delicate emotions get rip to shreds with the demoralization of human life all around them. This emotional tearjerker will leave you breathless. It will stir your soul. It will wreck havoc with your mind. It is hilarious at times but the dreadful war taking place within the pages will bother you. I saw the brutal scenes through the eyes of each character stretch out before me in dramatic detail.
I loved Ellie and Scarlet. Though they come from different backgrounds—Ellie is a poor country girl and Scarlet is the belle of society girl—they connect and bond instantly. Sharing mutual sisterly respect for each other and keeping each other’s spirits up when everything around them fall apart.
Scarlet doesn’t act privileged in any way. I admired her. She showed how courageous she is by leaving her family to become a nurse with hopes of finding her dear Thomas, her fiancé. Her journey throughout the book is tough and eye opening. It is on the train, to her station as a nurse, where she meets Ellie and their friendship is sealed at that moment.
Ellie is charming and brave with always a ready smile to cheer the downtrodden. But behind her smile hides her fear. I wanted to reach out to her and tell her to keep being brave. Handsome Dr. Spencer takes her mind off things only if it’s just for a while.
Lucy. What can I say about her? She has seen death and injury up close. She’s seen a doctor take his life, seen soldiers die… I don’t think I have the guts like her to be where she is and see what she has and still be strong throughout it all.
James. James is tender, wise and sometimes he speaks his mind. I found his wisdom to be soothing. The passionate chaos that is his attraction to Scarlet is a bright light under a gloomy, horribly dank Sussex sky. On the ship while sailing to Normandy, he’s there too and without knowing that his presence gives Scarlet the strength to keep it together when all she wants is to fall apart. To flee. To return home. But she doesn’t.
What shocked me the most was that first plot twist! I literally gasped when I reached that part, because I never for one second saw it coming.
Now, I can go on and on about this book but I won’t. Not because I’m lazy (I’m not) but rather because I feel if I did continue I might slip up and reveal vital bits of the plot.
In summation, here are just a few reasons why Wives of War by Soraya Lane consumed me from the start and found a place in my heart:
1. It is a captivating, emotionally stirring, haunting and raw. Once you start reading you find yourself not wanting to put the book down!
‘War changes you, makes you realise the errors of the past sometimes,’ James replied.
2. The lush prose.
‘I think of that night so often – the way he kissed me when it was dark, when no one could see. Our teeth kind of bumped and his moustache was bristly against my lips, but it was amazing. I mean . . .’
3. The sometimes inspirational and raw dialogue.
“Smile and the world will see the woman you want them to see, no matter how you feel inside.”
“There was so little to look forward to, and so much sadness surrounding them. Was it so wrong to anticipate a night of fun?”
4. The courageous cast.
‘We’re going to be fine, I promise,’ Ellie said, patting her arm as a whistle blew.
5. The scenes literally burst to life in your mind.
“At least I know how the other side lives now. We all sat around our dinner table, my brothers and me, with Ma and Pa, and at night Pa’d read to us in front of the fire. We didn’t have a lot, but we had full bellies most of the time and there was plenty of laughter and hugs.’”
Overall, Wives of War is a sterling read from a writer who deserves every bit of praise for such an intense and absorbing tale.