I loved Soldiers’ Wives, Fiona Field’s first book about army life, so I was thrilled to get my hands on the second.
And I’m pleased to report that Soldiers’ Daughters is every bit as good as its predecessor.
This time round Fiona Field focuses on two young army officers who on the face of it seem to have an awful lot in common. Samantha and Michelle are both motherless, were best friends at boarding school and have tricky relationships with their army officer dads. But that’s where the similarities end. While Samantha is responsible, reliable and ambitious, Michelle is the total opposite – flaky, unreliable and too impulsive by half. Perhaps not surprisingly, her headstrong nature soon gets her into very hot water with the army, especially when she becomes obsessed (in a Fatal Attraction sort of way) with another woman’s husband.
Like Soldiers’ Wives, Field’s second novel spins along at high speed. It’s pacy, enthralling and Field’s detailed knowledge of the army shines through without ever getting in the way of the story.
Field was in the army herself for eight years, is married to a bomb disposal expert and her soldier son recently returned from Afghanistan. As I said last time round, when she writes about IEDs (improvised explosive devices), MERT teams (medical emergency response teams), regimental sergeant majors and barrack blocks she knows exactly what she’s talking about. She’s just as good on life on the army base, complete with serial moving, magnolia painted walls and rules outlawing relationships between soldiers and officers (which, incidentally, leads to a heartbreaking decision for Samantha).
Soldiers’ Daughters introduces readers to a host of new characters but I enjoyed catching up with a clutch of familiar faces from the first book too. Hairdresser Jenna, my favourite character, makes a welcome return and so does Maddy, an Oxford graduate who’s given up her own career for her officer husband Seb. Maddy definitely deserves better than the selfish, chauvinistic Seb, so I hope he gets his comeuppance in a future book.
Soldiers’ Daughters by Fiona Field (Head of Zeus, £7.99)