book reviews

Book Review: The Soldier’s Wife

The soldier's wife review JF Gibson


Let me begin by saying that I have a long ‘want to read’ list, but I did move this one up as I was one of Pamela’s students at the time of the release. I hadn’t read any of Pamela’s work, which felt odd. I felt as though I should ‘know’ who is teaching me, so I read the book. And, over the space of three days.

The Soldier’s Wife is set in Sydney Australia during the First World War. Ruby has just seen her new husband Jimmy off to war and like many in her day, she sets out looking for work to support herself and help in any way possible with the war effort. I won’t go into the whole synopsis, there are plenty of other reviews here that do.

The main thing that struck me with the book was the way in which Pamela paints a full landscape of the story. The setting, the character, the historical elements – all beautifully illustrated in great detail, but not overdone at all. My first thoughts, when I began to read, was how colourful the words felt. It was as if I were watching a movie along with the words I was reading. The picture and the characters were perfectly clear.

Her characters come alive and gently seep into your thoughts. So many times I felt as if I were Ruby living through her story and seeing it with my own eyes.

As another fellow classmate said, it is a perfect novel for new writers as Pamela has got everything right – plot, storyline, pacing, characters, setting, backstory – all building seamlessly to a climactic and powerful ending.

Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I often choose, but in this case it is told beautifully.

Really, there isn’t much to fault in this novel (and I’m not only saying this because I was one of her students!) The only thing that I wasn’t entirely engaged in was the epilogue. The book could have finished well without it, but I can see how many readers would¬†feel more satisfied with its inclusion.

The Soldier’s Wife is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time, and one in which as an aspiring author has taught me so much.