Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review ~ DANCE THE MOON DOWN by R. L. Bartram

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 becomes a battle of faith against adversity.

This was a very good book.  The only criticism I have is that it had more description-type details that I didn't feel were necessary in the telling of the story, but just to fill pages so I skipped those parts.  Other than that, the book was very, very good.  
Victoria is a very young woman who gets caught up in the early European War of 1913.  When it wasn't typical for women to be educated, her father overruled her mother and allowed Victoria a university education.  There she met and fell in love with a poet, Gerald.  Victoria's mother forbid them to wed until her twenty-first birthday but when her mother dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, they wed immediately.  Soon thereafter Gerald volunteers to go to war for England.  She promises to wait for him no matter how long it takes as they thought the war would be over in a matter of months.  It lasted four years.  
Victoria and Gerald wrote each other regularly until one day Gerald's letters stopped.  Victoria didn't believe him to be dead, so she goes about trying to find out any information she can on his whereabouts but no one knows.
After six months, Victoria runs out of money and must seek work on a farm since no one will hire her without experience in her own social circles.  She is befriended by three young, uneducated women also working on the farm and they take Victoria under their wing.  In return, Victoria teaches them to read and write, so hopefully one day they can better their own station in life.
Victoria nearly gives up hope on Gerald returning from war when she receives a telegram that they believe Gerald was killed in action.  She attempts to commit suicide but one of her friends, a farm co-worker, stops her. Eventually, the Germans give up and the war is over.  Victoria is given a position for the Women's Institute and her three friends go on to better lives thanks to Victoria.  
Victoria has vowed to never leave her little village in the event that Gerald comes home.  This was her promise and she never felt in her heart that he was dead. Gerald comes home.  He was not dead but was seriously wounded and saved by a German doctor.  It was a long, slow recovery in which he was not allowed any outside communication. Victoria and Gerald have a slow reunion, they learn to love again and eventually have children.
I looked forward to picking up this book each day and discovering where Victoria's life would take her in her wait for Gerald.  She could have fallen for and committed adultery with Alan, an officer in the war office helping her to find Gerald but she didn't succumb.  She could have given up on the farm since it was such hard work but the girls there really helped her adapt.  She's a strong woman and I admired her greatly.
Rating: 4
Release Date:  November 27, 2011
Book Length:  300 pages
Source: Author
Reviewed by: Julie
Reading format: Available only in eBook

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