I read Soldiers’ Wives in one delicious go, barely even pausing to take a sip of tea or check my Twitter feed.
The tale of three women who are all trying to get to grips with army life, it’s pacy, entertaining and utterly authentic.
Fiona Field (a successful novelist who has written 16 books under the names of Kate Lace, Catherine Jones and Annie Jones) is more clued up about the army than most people.
She joined the army straight out of school, married a bomb disposal expert and their soldier son recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. 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.
But aside from all that, Soldiers’ Wives is a cracking story – with three very different lead characters.
Chrissie, who signs up as an army medic after losing her mother to multiple sclerosis, is bright and go-getting but in love with a married man. New mum Maddy is a superstar Oxford graduate, married to ultra-ambitious officer Seb (the couple both appeared in Cox by Kate Lace) and worried that her degree is going to waste. Meanwhile Jenna is glamorous, wilful and no way is she going to kowtow to army regulations. Jenna is a gem of a character, stealing every scene she appears in. I don’t want to give the game away but the scenes where she decides to set up a hair salon in her married quarter are hilarious.
Forces life is a great backdrop for a novel and Soldiers’ Wives is way more convincing that Joanna Trollope’s The Soldier’s Wife, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. I can’t wait to read Fiona Field’s next book. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Jenna makes a return appearance.
Soldiers’ Wives by Fiona Field (Head of Zeus, £7.99)