Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Book Review~ The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
December 27, 2011 by Plume
Paperback, 290 Pages
A respectable woman in the 1940's always did the right thing, she married well, came from an esteemed family, had the makings for high society and never second guessed her mama's love advice....at least if she were to be taken seriously as an upper class lady. This is where we find Anne Callaway, living a quiet life in the midst of WWII and getting ready to marry her childhood friend Gerard. Life has been kind to the family, Anne comes from well to do parents and Gerard is the son of the wealthiest family in town, so high class that even strings to keep him out of the war have worked. Anne is happy in the relationship, yet at the same time lacks the passion and spark shes always thought romance and love should be. In the corner of her mind she second guesses what her life is going to be with Gerard, he's loving, kind and certainly handsome, but there is no chemistry. She wonders if he's less than a man because he won't enlist in the war, but quickly chastises herself for thinking so poorly of him, she knows he's a good man who can't help where he came from and while life with him is comfortable the only real hope she has to cling to is the fact that shes a nurse who loves helping those in need.
When Anne's best friend Kitty (a nurse too) decides to enlist in the nurse corps and finds out she's leaving the country, Anne doesn't hesitate to join her. Putting off her marriage, disappointing her mother and even hurting Gerard can't stop the overwhelming desire to help in the war effort. Determined to do something she feels is right, Anne packs her bags, buys her ticket and is off with Kitty to Bora, Bora.
When the women step off the plane its entire new world, men are everywhere and its not like the nice men at home, they both were warned that the war tends to change people, but can't help but be shocked at the way of life. The shock wears off though and Anne becomes accustomed to the Islanders and the soldiers who shape her everyday life very quickly. Working takes up most of her time, but in the free moments her and the other women there form relationships with each other and the men they take care of. While Kitty go's back and forth between a few of the men, Anne winds up catching the eye of Westry, a quiet good-looking soldier who loves art and loves the island. Of course Anne never planned on falling in love with another man but quickly becomes consumed with her deep feelings for Westry. This is what love feels like, its explosive and heated and all consuming, its everything Anne thought it could be. During the days that Westry and Anne fall deeply in love they find an old abandoned bungalow on the beach of Bora, Bora. When time allows between the fighting, the wounded and the struggles of the war, Anne and Westry meet at the bungalow and share precious moments together. If one can't get away, they leave each other love letters addressed to their code names and communicate by poems, terms of endearment and the excitement of hidden gifts. Caught in the madness of WWII, both of them know every second counts and at any time the war could change things. Even with the chance of facing consequences with her family Anne has given her whole heart to Westry, she can't help but feel guilty for leaving Gerard behind, but knows Westry is the man shes always been looking for.
In the midst of her own feelings, Anne doesn't catch some of things going in Kitty's life. Her once best friend is distant, sneaky and harboring secrets about her love life and about the circumstances shes been facing. Chaos is all around them and one night as everything comes barreling to a head, Anne is a witness to a murder in front of her bungalow, one that will shatter her life in the now, one that will change her course and one that will follow her to old age. Misunderstandings and unsaid words leave these characters broken, with futures destroyed and a lifetime of what could of been.
Im so in love with this book, I can still smell the water crashing into the island of Bora, Bora, hear the wind as it ripples the roof of the bungalow and hear Anne and Westry laughing as they share a private moment. Sarah's writing was so exquisite in its sheer talent to transport me to a different time and place that I felt alive in that moment. The eagerness of love, the passions and desires seeped of the pages and I truly enjoyed the experience. While I was easily riveted to the story by Anne, a few of the characters like Westry, Kitty and mainly Gerard played most of their time in the background, I know this was Anne's story, but I would have loved to have seen behind the scenes of Gerard's journey, I think it could have given the book an extra layer of depth (this is me asking Ms. Jio to write a version just about Gerard) perhaps though this would have thrown off the murder mystery, or soured readers from the turn out, but I just can't help longing to know what he must of went through...oh well, I am just the reader, perhaps he didn't have a story to tell, or perhaps I already know deep down what it must have been. All in all an excellent tale of love, sorrow and betrayals mixed with eerie superstitions from a time long ago.
The Bungalow is recommended to adult readers and contains: Violence, murder, sexual situations, war, and infidelity.
5/5- Contemporary-Historical Fiction
A special thanks to Plume and Sarah Jio for Finished Copy