In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father's decision to enroll her at university that began to change all that. There she befriendes the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighbouring university that sets the seal on her future. After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteeres but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria's initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery. Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustaines her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life .
This book follows protagonist, Victoria, as she enters college at 16 years of age in the year 1910. She is a strong-willed and intelligent young woman from a family that has never suffered from poverty. Once she enters college, however, life drastically changes for Victoria. She gains independence, meets her future husband, loses her father, and, of course, World War 1 begins. Don't think that this is a dry historical novel. This book is the complete opposite! Similar to Forest Gump, Victoria has her hand in many historical events: the first military tank, moving pictures, automobiles, mustard gas, the suffrage movement, women gaining the right to vote, etc. Unlike Forest Gump, though, author Bartram spins a story that is believable and very moving. Throughout this plot there also runs a mystery--Victoria's beloved poet husband has been missing in action. Will he be found? If anyone can succeed, it's Victoria. Even if she is labelled a spy, a traitor, an anti-war sympathizer, she will move Heaven and Earth to find out what happened to him. Beautifully written, well-researched, enjoyable, entertaining, and emotional, this book is an absolute five star. A MUST-READ!
Reviewer Rating: 5 STARS!!!
Thank you to the author for the donation of this book to the Read for your Future book program in exchage for a honest review!