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The War Bride

par Pamela Hart

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January, 1920. Young Englishwoman Margaret Dalton is full of excitement as she arrives in Sydney to begin a new life in the warm, golden land of Australia. She leaves behind the horrors of WWI and can't wait to see her husband, Frank, after two years of separation. But when Margaret's ship docks, Frank isn't there to greet her and Margaret is informed that he already has a wife ? Devastated, Margaret must swap her hopes and dreams for the reality of living and working in a strange new city. A growing friendship with army sergeant Tom McBride gives her a steady person to rely on. But just as Margaret and Tom begin to grow closer, news arrives that Frank may not have abandoned her. Where should Margaret's loyalties lie: with the old life or with the new? Inspired by the true stories of war wives who arrived in Australia.… (plus d'informations)

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The war has ended and the English brides of Australian soldiers are now arriving in Australia. But what happens if the man you married isn’t waiting when the ship arrives? This is exactly what happens to Margaret Dalton.
Sergeant Tom McBride is in charge of checking everyone off the ship and takes Margaret to a hostel while the Army sorts out the whereabouts of her husband, Frank.
They find Frank is no longer at his stated residence and his papers also mention a wife and child.
Margaret feels like a fool but must now put on a brave face and come to terms with the idea that Frank deceived her.

”She’d been gullible, tricked by a warm smile and nice brown eyes. No. Forget him. She would wear her lovely nighties and use those embroidered tablecloths and be damned with him. But it was a hollow kind of defiance, a thin shell over pain and humiliation.”

I found this not only a captivating read it was also a sentimental journey as it was set in the area and time of my Grandmother’s early twenties and through Hart’s descriptions I could clearly see Sydney as my Grandmother would have seen and lived it.

I loved the Australian colloquialisms in the story. Well researched, the story comes across as real and natural.

The War Bride is a stand alone however I would recommend The Soldier’s Wife is read first. Not only because it is a moving read but it’s where the character of Tom McBride is first introduced. It will give you a whole new perspective on Tom’s heartbreak.

There is a lot of angst in this story as the characters rebel, with much soul searching, against the morals of the time.

Hart brings in relevant issues such as divorce, unemployment, religion, fear of being ostracized, dressing and doing what is considered proper. However these are all set around a changing country and Hart integrates the push for acceptance and change on a lot of levels.

My thanks to Hachette Aus via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.
I loved this book so much I have bought myself a paperback copy. ( )
  Ronnie293 | Sep 11, 2016 |
Pamela Hart is an author whose writing I just ‘click’ with. I can pick up her novels anywhere, anytime and be whisked away to an Australia long gone. Her historical fiction pulses with the life of early twentieth century Australia, bringing not only the characters to life but giving noise to the streets and landscape. I loved The Soldier’s Wife and I staked my claim on The War Bride late last year when I first heard about it. It doesn’t disappoint, bringing post WWI Sydney alive with some lesser known history in Margaret, the protagonist.

Margaret is English and married Frank during the war in a whirlwind romance centred around Reading train station. Frank, an Aussie, was injured and sent home to Australia. Now after the war and the Spanish flu, Margaret is ready to leave on a ship for war brides to be reunited with their partners. Margaret can’t wait to start her new life, but when the ship docks, Frank isn’t there. The kind army sergeant (who just happens to be Tom McBride, who readers of The Soldier’s Wife will be familiar with) makes enquiries for her, but it isn’t good. Frank has upped sticks and moved to be with his wife. The wife that isn’t Margaret.

Naturally, Margaret is devastated. But she’s not giving in – she’ll stay in Australia and make her own life. (After all, there’s very little left for her in England). Thanks to Tom, she finds a lovely place to stay and new friends in Jane and Burnsie. She finds a job she enjoys and finally, a new romance with Tom. But then Margaret finds out that Frank didn’t intentionally abandon her and life gets incredibly complicated. Does she lose all the ground she’s made in Australia to return to being Frank’s wife? Or does she face the wrath of society?

Even though it’s historical fiction, The War Bride contains a lot of modern thoughts and feelings, particularly in relation to how women were treated. Margaret and Tom have become a couple, which flies in the face of convention as Margaret is pretending to be a widow. How she can possibly think of another man while she’s dressed in black is beyond society’s wildest dreams. But as it’s preferable to be a widow rather than announce desertion, what choice does Margaret have? She pushes the boundaries of convention as best she can but it’s only a matter of time before society pushes back. For example, she is wracked with guilt after having sex with Tom because not only are they not married, Margaret is married to the absent Frank. Perhaps this is one of the reasons she decides to divorce Frank – to free herself of some of the guilt and allow herself happiness (not something that 1920s Sydney was all that keen on…the Bright Young Things hadn’t quite made it Down Under yet). Margaret is an early bastion of rights for women – jobs, love and the ability to change one’s destiny. Yet she’s not gung-ho, but has doubts and guilt. This only made me like her all the more.

I was so pleased to see Tom back in this book, as he’s so sweet and he deserved better after being unlucky in love in The Soldier’s Wife. Compared to Frank, Tom was even more heroic. Frank just didn’t seem suited to Margaret in my opinion. Perhaps it was the war that brought them together or perhaps it was because we only really got to know Margaret’s character after she was forced to make a new life but…Frank was weak. The reality of him didn’t meet Margaret’s memories and he seemed mixed up, even pathetic at times. I’d consider him to be very lucky to have had Margaret in his life!

The book also reflects on other topics of the time, such as shell shock and returning to home life after the war (there’s a scene where none of the men can stomach the smell of mustard). There’s some mention of what the ramifications are for gay men and how much of a role religion played in day to day lives. I could discuss this book for pages, but what I’d really like you to do is read The War Bride. It’s a captivating story that covers so much ground of Aussie life in the 1920s.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Apr 24, 2016 |
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January, 1920. Young Englishwoman Margaret Dalton is full of excitement as she arrives in Sydney to begin a new life in the warm, golden land of Australia. She leaves behind the horrors of WWI and can't wait to see her husband, Frank, after two years of separation. But when Margaret's ship docks, Frank isn't there to greet her and Margaret is informed that he already has a wife ? Devastated, Margaret must swap her hopes and dreams for the reality of living and working in a strange new city. A growing friendship with army sergeant Tom McBride gives her a steady person to rely on. But just as Margaret and Tom begin to grow closer, news arrives that Frank may not have abandoned her. Where should Margaret's loyalties lie: with the old life or with the new? Inspired by the true stories of war wives who arrived in Australia.

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