Disclaimer: I was sent this Kindle edition of Gone to Soldiers from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I am grateful that this book is now in digital format as 760 pages can be difficult to hold.
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy is an epic novel filled with great prose. We are introduced to the ten main characters(6 women and 4 men) in the beginning chapters.Their voices continue throughout the novel and it is through their eyes that we see WW2 and its effects on an entire generation. There are other characters that are attached to the main characters so keeping them all straight can be a challenge. It wasn’t until I had read all the introductory chapters(about 9 in all) on the main characters that I had a sense of who they were and where the novel was taking us. My recommendation is to keep reading. You will not be disappointed. This book needs not only to be read but absorbed. In the novel you will travel from United States to France and to the European and Pacific Theaters. You will become attached to all the main characters. I began thinking about them even when not reading the book. One of the characters Duvey(a member of Coast Guard ) has a harrowing trip off the coast of Malta. I could not help but compare his journey to St Paul’s shipwreck off the same island of Malta.
What came alive in the telling of this novel was the strength and courage of the characters,most especially the women. They were the stars of this epic novel. The most difficult chapter was the reading of Jacqueline’s telling of the conditions in the concentration camp. It was a necessary telling though as we must never forget the past and man’s inhumanity to man. Since this is historical fiction I found myself looking up information about the WASP’s, WW2 and the French Resistance. Anytime a book increases my knowledge and sends me to Wikipedia I feel the author has completed her/his task.
One last thing that struck me was the bombing of Hiroshima. Two of the characters visit the site and the after effects of the visit are a powerful image as one of them says:”There is nothing left.Not an ant.Not a weed. Not a butterfly.Not a mouse. Nobody was lucky.It’s flat as a pane of glass.” That is indeed a powerful image that the author passes on to us.. This is a book that will stay with you for some time. Do not be intimidated by the size. It is a story that must be told and I am glad that Marge Piercy with her lovely prose was the one to tell it.
Welcome to Under The Shade TreeSit under a shade tree. Feel its branches encircle you. Wait for the cooling breeze. Read a good book.Feel the theme of that book encircle your mind. You are wanting more just as you want more breezes.
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