Let me be honest. For about the first half of the book, I wasn’t sure I would want to finish it. It dragged, but something about the way the author used the language kept me hanging in there. There was blatant foretelling (Victoria’s world would never be the same, telling about the future of characters she meets with after they’re out of the story, etc.), which bothered me for a while, but then it was lost to the rhythm of the story itself.
Victoria is a proper young woman who finds herself in situations she never could have imagined. She defies her mother to fall in love, then watches her beloved husband march off to war just weeks after they got married. Even when all the evidence told her he was dead (including the British Armed Services itself), she refused to believe he could be gone. She struggles to survive, her determination to find out what happened to Gerald running her along the knife’s edge of accusations of treason against the Crown. When money runs out, she doesn’t just become destitute, she strikes out to find a job among the limited ones available in Staunton Gifford because she doesn’t want to be far away when Gerald finds his way home.
There are some gut-wrenching moments and after about the halfway point, I seriously had trouble putting the book down as I wanted to see where Victoria’s path left her. She grew enormously over the course of the book and got what she deserved in the end (and I mean that in the best possible way).
If you like a somewhat old world rhythm to your tales and are at all interested in World War One told by a non-combatant in an age when information was so severely restricted thanks to the limits of technology of the day, then I recommend this unreservedly. Just don’t give up if the first part seems...not so great. It pays off in the end!