Meanwhile, the squire's fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming... and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne's past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.
For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry's return disrupts the village quiet and it's not long before gossip spreads.
The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.
*May Contain Spoilers*
After WWII, England was in a time of rebuilding and her citizens were trying to move on with their lives. The Married Girls, the second in the series by Diney Costeloe, presents interwoven stories that explore marriage, love, family, finances, and loss after the war had ended focusing on members of a small village in Somerset.
Charlotte is the main character of the book and it seems that all other story lines revolve around her. She was a German refugee during the war and was taken in by foster parents during it. In this book, Charlotte (whose German name was Lisa) is married with two children. She's a strong character whose two main qualities are beauty and kindness. Many of the villagers like Charlotte and her sweet, caring nature are demonstrated with how she treats those around her. Through the novel, Charlotte has to face a few difficult situations and how she reacts to and handles these events define her strength and highlight her resolve. Readers will connect with Charlotte through her personality first and her reaction to events second. As the life she built seems to crumble in the second half of the book, readers will not only be cheering for Charlotte's emotional survival, they'll be hoping for a happy ending.
Billy, Felix, Harry, and Daphne are the main supporting cast of characters. Billy is Charlotte's husband and is an amazing father to their children. Though he does present a bit of jealousy when Harry returns to visit Charlotte. Harry Black (also known as Victor) is a member of the criminal world. He's been hiding in Australia for a few years, hoping the England Police have forgotten him. He returns to finish up a bit of business for his dying boss and is emotionally pushed to find Charlotte again. This creates a cloud of gossip around Charlotte and marks the beginning of her struggles.
Felix and Daphne are engaged (and married in the later parts of the book), but their relationship is one built on lies. Daphne wants to be happily married to a rich man that can provide her every wish. She sets her eyes on Felix and does everything she can to marry him. Yet, Daphne doesn't get the life she thought she would and starts to resent Felix. Her biggest secret, the fact that she has a daughter, threatens to come out and Daphne does everything in her power to keep it under wraps. Daphne is not a likeable character and readers will hope that Felix somehow escapes from her grasp. Felix is a good, kindhearted, caring, and dependable man. When his father dies unexpectedly, he moves back to Wynsdown to care for his mother and restore the family estate. Though his married life is full of unhappiness, he tries to make it work. I think readers will feel a strong connection to Felix, as he certainly doesn't deserve the kind of treatment Daphne provides.
The Married Girls follows the relationships of these characters as they rebuild their lives after the ending of the war. By focusing on the character's lives, this book provides readers with strong connections to its characters. There are several side plots that build the action and evoke emotional responses from readers. Yet, the main focus of the story is love. By the end, readers will see that this whole novel has really only been about two characters who find happiness and peace with each other. However, the ending is a bit abrupt and I felt like I didn't get a sense of closure for all the characters. As this is the second in the series, I can't help but wonder if there will be a third installment. With Costeloe's writing style and her power to bring the past to life, accurately and thoroughly evoking the emotional and lifestyle struggles of the time period, I would definitely recommend this book as well as be excited to read anything else by this author.
Rating: 3.5/5 Cups