I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on December 27th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII
Also by this author: The Violets of March, Blackberry Winter, The Last Camellia
A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.
In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.
A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.
A sorrowful tale of war and the effect it has on each and every life involved.
It is 1942 and WWII is being fought. Anne Calloway is engaged to marry Gerard Godfrey and there are just a few weeks till their wedding; their marriage being planned from birth.
“Calloways would marry Godfreys. It was as natural as coffee and cream.”
Their relationship is one lacking in passion and Anne wishes to be marrying someone that she can be proud of; rather than someone whose father simply had the funds to see that his son is never drafted. Anne has a personal desire to join in the war effort and to do her part and toys with the idea of joining the Army Nurse Corps. At her engagement party, her best friend Kitty tells Anne of her decision to join the Army Nurses and that she’s being shipped to the South Pacific in one weeks’ time. Anne makes the immediate decision to go with Kitty as well, that she needed to do something rather than simply playing a part.
Anne arrives at Bora Bora not anticipating that she would be giving her heart away to soldier Westry Green. Their time together is blissful inside an abandoned beach bungalow that they call their own.
”For now, this little slice of heaven is mine.” He looked at me. “Well, ours. I’ll let you have half.”
The continuing war and a brutal crime that the two witnessed threatens to put a wedge between them and they are separated seemingly forever as Westry is sent to Europe and Anne is sent back home to Seattle. Years later, Anne has never been able to keep Westry from her mind and when a letter arrives from Tahiti she dares to hope that the two can be brought together once again.
Before you decide to pick up this book I would suggest you have a free day to be able to completely dive in. Once I started this I simply could not stop; I was completely captivated. I found myself entirely enthralled in the romance of Anne and Westry but felt such sorrow at the impending separation between the two fearing the worst at what seemed inevitably to happen.
The brutal crime that Anne and Westry witnessed seemed at first like a disjointed piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit at first. As did the mysterious painting that they found in the Bungalow. I loved how it all came together in the end and how it was more integral to the entire story than one would originally think. All loose ends were tied up beautifully and I wasn’t left with a single lingering doubt that this was a fabulous novel that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This will make you smile, it will make you sad, and it may even produce a few tears (speaking from personal experience). But I must say, it was well worth it.
This is my second novel by Sarah Jio and I must say I’m just as amazed as I was the first time at how much I enjoy her books. This woman has a talent for writing and I’ve become a devoted fan of hers. I can’t wait to read more from her in the future.