Note: I gratefully received and advance reader's copy of this novel from Net Galley and Gallery books. This novel will be available on May 21, 2013.
It is 1948 at Wauregan, an idyllic island summer community. Helen Wadsworth, whose husband has been declared mysteriously missing on an OSS operation in France, is seeking the truth about his disappearance.
The mystique—and the myth—at Wauregan is that “nothing ever changes here,” but that is mined with the traumas of husbands returned from the war, and wives who cannot imagine the horrors they experienced in combat. Scarred by battle, these men longed for their families and their island refuge, only to find themselves emotionally distant, and struggling to reenter society.
This insomniac's opinion:
Both the title and the cover of this novel leads the reader to believe that they are about to read a romance novel set in an idyllic setting. This is a bit true, as the setting is idyllic and there is a romance embedded into the story. The core of this novel, however, is anything but romantic. It is about those who return from war, but as different people. And, most of all, those who never come home, and the people whose lives are forever changed by the missing.
I was incredibly moved by the bravery of the women in this story. Their husbands may have perished in the war or came back as completely different people. These women bravely put on a happy face and held their families together even when it seemed as though the world was continuing to fall apart. I think that we minimize the life-long effects of war on both the soldiers and their families. We forget that it is not all wine and roses after the soldiers come home.
I found this novel to be beautifully written and really loved the characters. I did wish to get to know Helen a bit better. She is the focus of the novel, yet I felt that we never saw completely what was underneath her brave veneer. I also felt that the ending came suddenly and had a different tone from the rest of the novel. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and it made me think of the war in a different way than I ever had before.
Worth staying up all night to read?
Yes, it is a lovely novel. This would be a perfect summer read.
Rating: 4 stars