Book number 38 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book 6 of my holiday reads) is Wives of War by Soraya M. Lane.
‘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.’ (Thanks Amazon!)
So I find myself back in my comfort zone reading historical fiction that is focussed on women in World War II. This novel follows Scarlett, Ellie and Lucy, three women who become military nurses to assist in the war effort and who find themselves on the frontline in Normandy. These three women come from very different backgrounds, and each have their own reasons for becoming military nurses. Scarlett comes from a very privileged family but finds herself undertaking her nursing training in the hope that she will be able to search for her lost fiancee Thomas whilst stationed on the frontline. Ellie is an Irish farmers daughter, seeking to play her part in the war effort. Scarlett and Ellie meet on their first day as they set out to train as nurses, and provide each other with much required support as they deal with unimaginable horror and heartbreak once they reach Normandy. Lucy is already an experienced military nurse when Scarlett and Ellie join, but no less vulnerable, and no less in need of good friends.
This novel explores the strong relationships between women during World War II, as they found themselves thrust into positions that had previously been out of reach to them. In order to survive the horrors of war they relied on each other for support and comfort, and this novel really highlights the sacrifices that they made alongside their men who were fighting for our freedom.
There is of course love strewn throughout this story, as we see how couples had to make quick decisions and choices, not knowing if they would ever be together again as they were separated by war.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as it is now known also plays a prominent role in this novel. It explores how this disorder affects not only the individual who is struggling to cope with the trauma that they have survived, but also how it affects their loved ones when life returns to ‘normal’. This is an important topic, as we learn more about the impact of war on our veterans and what we need to do to help them.
I really enjoyed this novel. Whilst the characters are fictional, they are set during real-life events from our recent history. It is vital that we remember what the generations before us had to do to ensure our freedom now, and novels such as this are a great way of doing that. Even if you are not usually into historical fiction, this is a great novel full of strong characters that focuses on love, but more importantly, hope.
Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖