The Bravest Soldiers
by Elaine Schroller
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Pub Date 03 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 03 Nov 2023
A mother's love. A new love. As the Pacific War looms ever closer to Australia, will waiting and wondering break their hearts?
September 1939. Sophie Parker nursed wounded soldiers in France during the Great War. She knows the physical and mental devastation war can wreak on hearts, minds, and bodies. When WWII breaks out, and Australia is called to join the effort, Sophie knows all too well what her sons will face when they enlist to fly and fight.
Marianne Ryan grew up in a French town battered by the Germans during the Great War. But while she spends WWII in Sydney, far from her home and family in occupied France, the new love she never expected to find could break her heart beyond repair.
With the war looming ever closer to Australia, Sophie and Marianne must watch and wait as the Japanese cut a swath through the Pacific. Can the two women be as courageous as the men they love?
As they are in all wars, the women who wait at home must be the bravest soldiers.
The Bravest Soldiers, Book 2 in The Immense Sky Saga, is the next chapter in the Parker – Ryan family story begun in Dare Not Tell, but can be read as a standalone.
Average rating from 16 members
Schroller shares with us the next chapter in The Immense Sky Saga, Sophie and Joe’s story set in Australia and the South West Pacific Area during WWII. Readers will be swept away by an emotional look at how war affects the hearts of the bravest soldiers.
“God knows the grief they suffer,
So keep it in your mind,
They are the bravest soldiers,
The womenfolk we’ve left behind.”
Historical fiction author Elaine Schroller spotlights what life was like for those left behind - the military spouses and mothers, fiances and girlfriends- the bravest soldiers. Those left waiting and wondering. Those who’ve made this journey before.
She shows us the pressure the bravest soldiers experienced in:
✔️ keeping their remaining family together
✔️ learning to rely on others for help
✔️ allowing their children to head off to war, knowing what’s ahead
✔️ enduring long waits
✔️ knowing when to and when not to talk about the war
✔️ celebrating small victories
✔️ raising her spouse’s morale
✔️ writing letters
✔️ fending off feelings of guilt at not providing a safe and loving home for children
✔️ living a temporary life, sometimes in another country
✔️ experiencing the reality of being at war with no end in sight
✔️ scanning newspapers for tidbits of information
✔️ learning to compartmentalize
I appreciated a fresh perspective of the war - War in the Pacific and those in the Austrailian homefront. I learned about the anti-Japanese sentiment, the sinking of the HMAS Sydney, the Cowra internment camp, ‘Australian Dunkirk’, Wirraway boys, atabrine tablets, the political frustrations impeding aid, orphaned children, and more. I’ve often read about anxious wives waiting for letters that never come or are few and far between, but Schroller gave us insight into WHY those letters weren’t as forthcoming as expected and WHY some soldiers didn’t want to enter into a relationship during wartime. It was eye-opening to read about human nature under dire circumstances. It certainly made me appreciate those military mothers, wives, fiancees, and girlfriends who faced their own battles and learned to gain strength from family and community - in the past and present.
“When will my daddy come home?”
The toughest question to answer.
I can’t wait for a sequel! Historical fiction lovers need to source out this saga - I’m confident they’ll enjoy the Parker-Ryan family story - a book stuffed with secrets, intrigue, feelings of hopelessness, and desperation. This wonderful piece of historical fiction spotlights those who were forced to make decisions they wouldn’t have made if they’d lived in another time and space. I certainly appreciated a story with a keen sense of the rich diversity of wartime experiences.
I was gifted this copy by BooksGoSocial and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
A wonderful historical fiction narrative of love and service for Australians and the good of humanity during WWII. I really enjoyed learning more of how the Aussies did their bit for the wold, defending their own country but also in the general Pacific region, as well as in littler known areas of combat and conflict in other parts of the world during that time. I especially liked the part about the parachutes, and the French lady Marianne's hand in it. I suspect readers will come to love the Parker family, as did I. Mercifully, there is a glossary of Aussie terms and slang to aid the readers' understanding. It is such a great story that I savor it still. A 5-Star rating from me.
~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~
Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the complimentary review copy sent by NetGalley and the publisher.
Sophie and Joe Parker return home to Sydney, accompanying them is Sophie’s widowed other Lily Holt and Marianne Ryan a French seamstress and aspiring fashion designer. Marianne grew up in Villers-Bretonneux, her father Will stayed in France after the end of The Great War and married Helene and is in charge of the war memorial.Marianne and her brother Chris went to a school rebuilt by donations from Australia, her parents want her to be safe and Chris is determined to fight.
Sophie was a nurse and Joe a soldier in The Great War, they both know the devastation a war causes and it’s only a matter of time before Australia becomes involved and their adult sons Sam and Jean-Luc. Sam is an aerial surveyor, Jean-Luc a winemaker and Joe is the head inspector of forensics in New South Wales.
Four days after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour they attack Darwin and the war in the South Pacific ramps up. The Japanese have already invaded Ambon, Borneo and Celebes, they have their sights set on Timor and Java and the American’s use Darwin as an air ferry route and they want to disrupt this. Sam joins the 4th Squadron of the RAAF, he trains new pilots and then guides American bombers through the New Guinea jungle. Jean-Luc joins the 7th Division of the Australian army, he sees action in, Syria, Lebanon and the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea.
Joe's handling the public’s retaliation towards Australian’s of Japanese heritage, illegal alcohol being brewed and making sure American troops understand the language differences and order is kept. Sophie is busy helping the Red Cross and looking after three young children Teddy, Katie and Cora O’Brien. The Australia public is giving their all to help fight the Germans and Japanese, sending care packages overseas, knitting and making Anzac biscuits, collecting scrap metal and digging vegetable gardens for victory. Marianne starts sewing parachutes in a factory, she and the other girls add notes of encouragement, and she makes over dresses for her friends and writes to Sam.
I received a digital copy of The Bravest Soldiers the second book in The Immense Sky Saga by Elaine Schroller from BooksGoSocial and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It carries on from the first book Dare Not Tell and I enjoyed catching up with the Parkers, Kelly’s and the other memorable characters like Moira and Thomas Kelly, and American military journalist Edmund Stone. During a war, women step up and shoulder the burden on the home front, Sophie, Marianne, her mother Lily, aunt Flora and Sophie’s housekeeper Moira all do this and so much more.
Despite Ms. Schroller being American, she does an outstanding job writing about The Second World War in Australia, from understand the language and slang, attitudes towards people of Japanese decent, enforcing the black out and building trenches in backyards, rationing, role of the women’s land army, coast watchers and native messengers, Aussie soldiers fighting in the jungles of New Guinea and the physical and mental toll it took on them. Marianne was the stand out character in this narrative, she's beautiful, funny, thoughtful, independent and forthright, and Sam certainly notices, four stars from me and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
This poignant Australian historical novel (and love story) deftly captures the panicky tension of oncoming–and then ongoing–war. Told through former nurse Sophie Parker (introduced in Schroller’s first book), she is settled in Sydney after marrying Joe, the soldier and now police investigator she fell in love with in France during World War I. As news of Hitler’s advance darkens the airwaves, Sophie and Joe tense. Their wartime experiences are still barely healed. This time they face impossible stakes for both their sons enlist. As the day-to-day edges of life fray–lawns are torn up into victory gardens, the police force is thinned out by men enlisting–the nervous dread mixed with wartime resilience amplifies. Schroller’s concentration on the jittery uncertainty of those off the battlefield and left at home is heartbreaking and tender. Through it all, Sophie and Joe’s classic love affair deepens and a new love story begins. Thoroughly satisfying read!
Outstanding, I was so sad to be finishing it and now eagerly await the next instalment!
The characters in this book are so likeable and the way Elaine brings them to life makes you want to meet them in person. Their characters and emotional feelings are all described so well and emphasise that whilst mental health struggles have only recently been highlighted they have existed for decades.
The storyline is very strong (following on from the first book in the series) and whilst I knew the Australians fought in the Pacific Islands during the war this book had me looking up places and researching myself parts of the battle.
Thank you to NetGalley and of course Elaine for writing such a brilliant series, I cant wait for book three!
This was a strong sequel in the Immense Sky Saga series, it had a great historical feel to it and worked with everything that I was hoping for. The world worked well overall and thought it had a great feel to it. The characters worked well overall and does everything that I was looking for. Elaine Schroller does a great job in writing this and left me wanting to read more.
Loved this second book in Elaine Scholler’s series! Watching Joe & Sophie worry as their sons went off to fight in World War II was a lesson in the many families that endured the same. Their parental love made the war real and I learned so much about the different fronts on which battles were fought. These characters made me laugh and cry and I couldn’t put this down until I finished it. Loved the delicate, sweet romance that blossomed between Marianne & Sam. Looking forward to reading more in this series!
The Bravest Soldiers provides a worthy sequel to Dare Not Tell, illuminating the post-war marriage of Sophie and Joe as their family sadly embroils in WWII. I very much enjoyed catching up with the compelling couple, who are settled in sweet domesticity, while additional characters also take a mainstage role. Elaine Aucoin Schroller has a gift for creating relatable, affable characters, no matter how much time they spend in the spotlight of the story. Besides the fostering children plotline, I was especially taken with the story of Joe’s grown son, Sam, and French refugee Marianne. The letters they exchange poignantly highlight their growing relationship within the framework of Australia’s wartime involvement and contributions. Perhaps their lovely story will highlight the next chapter in the Immense Sky Saga?
The Bravest Soldiers is my first book by Elaine Schroller. While it wasn't a super fast read for me, I enjoyed it and looked forward to reading another chapter or two each day. I didn't read book one in this series, Dare Not Tell, but was able to follow this story so I feel it can be read & enjoyed as a stand-alone. I definitely want to read book one now though, to learn more of Joe & Sophie's story, and will be looking for future books in this series as well.
I loved learning about the Australian experience of WWII, it's not something I know much about, so this was a very educational journey for me, and a clear glimpse at the dire conditions so many were faced with. I loved the use of Australian slang, and I feel that the language and behaviour were accurate for the era. I felt a connection with each character, particularly Sophie and Marianne, and I felt all of their emotions - love, joy, hope, pain, and their desire to do something useful, to help those in need, and assist with the war effort in some way. I particulàrly enjoyed the letters between Sam & Marianne - such a sweet touch.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an advance digital copy to review.
I adored this novel. I read Schroller’s début, Dare Not Tell, and was looking forward to this sequel to her The Immense Sky Saga. While the first novel was set in Europe during WWI and the lead-up to WWII, this novel takes place in Australia during WWII.
I loved the couple at the heart of the first novel, Australian soldier Joe and American-British nurse Sophie. In this sequel, I was pleased to pick up on their lives, years later, as they are living in Sydney, Australia, contemplating the outbreak of another World War, and confronting the enthusiasm of their own sons to join the war effort.
The Australian setting and attention to details of the Pacific campaign and the women and families left behind on the homefront set this novel apart from many WWII novels. I loved how Schroller worked in details of lives suspended in Australia as sons, husbands and lovers are away at war. This novel introduces a new generation of characters and the story weaves in Australia’s wartime rations, victory gardens, animosity towards Japanese-Australians and the devastation of children left war orphans, masterfully told alongside epistolary narration of Pacific war efforts.
This was a fully engaging wartime story that placed me alongside the unsung heroes of the war – the wives, mothers and fiancées who shouldered the courage needed to confront daily life and to assist the war efforts, while longing for its end and the return of the soldiers. A poignant, beautifully written story with engaging characters and rich details, The Bravest Soldiers is a must-read novel – can’t wait for the next installment!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy - all thoughts are my own.
The setting is Australia during WWII, the continuation of the first book Dare Not Tell. It is the second book in The Immense Sky Saga by Elaine Schroller In this book I enjoyed catching up with the Parkers, Kelly’s and the other memorable characters like Moira and Thomas Kelly, and military journalist Edmund Stone. During a war, women step up and shoulder the burden on the home front, Sophie, Marianne, her mother Lily, aunt Flora and Sophie’s housekeeper Moira all do this and so much more. They are the "bravest soldiers" taking on these responsibilities all the while waiting for their loved ones who are at war doing battle! My thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Bravest Soldiers is Book 2 of The Immense Sky Saga and what an amazing contribution to the series it is. It follows the same pattern of writing as Book 1 where the love story is told via the letters written to and from the ones that stay at home and the ones that go to fight the war.
Where Book 1 we find Sophie and Joe in Europe during WWI in this book we find them, and their kids, who now are young men, living in Australia during WWII, and now the ones fighting are the next generation.
I have to confess that I didn't really know much about the Australian involvement in and during WWII and what the Australian and New Zealand population went thru during the war, and this book allowed me to learn more about this subject.
With great characters, very detailed description of places and situations, amazing focused on details and very good writing, this book is one that grabbed me from beginning to end and left me wanting to know what will happen in Book 3, if the author decides to write a continuation of the series.
I am a slow reader, and that was all the better for absorbing the rich details and subsequent feelings about the lives of the myriad cast of characters in The Bravest Soldiers. Aucoin deftly shares the impact of the Blue Mountains and Sydney coast watchers and raising vegetables, sewing parachutes, and fostering children abandoned by death and the war on those who have stayed home and wait, and wait, for news of their loved ones. She takes her time to really see them. And that gave me the chance to see and to thank her for being such a wonderful writer. I received my copy from NetGalley, but all these thoughts are my own.
Heartbreaking and vivid, this historical fiction brings the stories of two women, fighting the war on two very different emotional planes.
One who'd personally witness the casualties and consequences while working in an European military hospital during WWI and the other, witnessed the war as a child and now finds herself watching another world war brewing.
As the two navigate heartache and the stress of not knowing the day to day status of loved ones, they have to find strength together in this family saga about how wars can destroy and what it takes to stay brave and keep up hope.
This book is the second in The Immense Sky Saga.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.