January, 1920. Young Englishwoman Margaret Dalton is full of excitement as she arrives 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’ 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. And just as a growing friendship with army sergeant Tom McBride gives her a steady person to rely on, news arrives that Frank may not have abandoned her. Where should Margaret’s loyalties lie: with the old life or with the new?
The War Bride by Pamela Hart turned out to be a delightful and really absorbing read. I loved the time it was set in – just at the end of World War. I also loved the geographical setting – Sydney, Australia. Margaret finds herself in Sydney with no one to meet her. Fortunately Tom a local soldier, helps her out and eventually she finds herself at a boarding house with the delightful landlady – Burnsie and her daughter Jane.
It is quite a culture shock for Margaret, Australia is really a different country to England, already by that time the Australian culture was evolving rapidly. Women had the vote and went swimming with gusto. The language was English but of course there are many sayings that were new to her and words she hadn’t ever heard before.
The book explores what it is like for those who are returning from war and settling back into ordinary life again. After all that’s what they fought for – so that ordinary life might go on. Many of them are still dealing with the inner and outer wounds of war. Tom was relatively unscathed physically but he still has nightmares. Tom is a Catholic though and Margaret a Methodist. In those days, never the two should meet. I really enjoyed seeing the characters and their thoughts and feelings about religion. The attitudes of people towards various events too was interesting. Society has changed, however I grew up in the 1950’s and things were pretty similar to the book’s era I have to say.
Tom and Margaret begin to form a relationship and it is really going somewhere when Margaret hears that her husband Frank didn’t desert her, he is living with Gladys and his daughter Violet. This throws Margaret into a quandary. What should she do?
The characters are very real, I liked them all, the dilemma that faced Margaret was really difficult. I liked too that the story is based on what actually happened to some real life brides. It opened up a small window for me on that era.