this is the best book Marge Piercey has written in her long history.
her charachters are so lifelike and the way she brings it all together at the end is amazing. this author has been around a very long time and she just gets better
Fascinating account of (fictional) ordinary lives during WWII. Mostly centered around Jewish women's lives, covers the range from a resistance fighter in France trying to find her way through the violence to a preteen in New York facing anti-semitism and abuse but too young to understand the causes. Each character is deeply individual with no sterotypes, and has unexpected strengths and weaknesses.
This long, sweeping novel covers the years approaching World War II for many people in the spread out Balaban family. Starting in Kozoniece, Poland, the family had scattered to France, USA, Shanghai China, all over the world. Each chapter tells the story from a different character's point of view. There are so many chapters and so many characters, that I kept forgetting who was whom, and how they were related. I am only 1/4 way through the book at this point. I had extremely high hopes at the beginning, but I feel that the author was too ambitious and gives too many divergent story lines that cover too many subjects.
I was totally caught up in this story. It gave me views into living through WWII that are not usually represented elsewhere. I believed all of the characters. It's a long book, with a lot of characters to remember, but after a while you start to wonder what's happening to someone you haven't heard from in a while. I recommend this book, but I can't repost my copy because I gave it to a friend.
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. Ms. Piercy is a talented writer and in this she brings the WW II era alive. I admit that the beginning can be a bit confusing as she is introducing so many characters, but if the reader stays with it, you will be awarded with a spell-binding novel. There are hundreds of fictional books on battles and the men who fought them, but this will give the reader not only another perspective of the American Home Front, but of the Resistance in France and how it connects with people in the U.S. In addition, there is a woman who becomes a Women's Air Force Pilot, aka WASP, and a Merchant Mariner on a Liberty Ship (too often ignored in most accounts). All in all, a gripping novel.
Of the many WWII novels Ive read, this is one of the best possibly because it encompasses whats going on from multiple narrative points of view and covers the war from many angles. The novel intertwines the stories of at least eight major characters all of whom are dealing with the uncertainty and danger of the war but in different places and from different perspectives. Because the action continually shifts back and forth from one location to the other - the War in the Pacific, the fate of the Jews in Amsterdam, the tension mounting in Great Britain, the atrocities taking place at the concentration camps throughout Germany, the plan for the invasion of Europe, as well as what it was like for those back home who were working in factories and coping with shortages, rationing, etc. - the reader is often left in suspense, waiting to find out the fate of one set of characters, while engrossed in whats happening somewhere else. While Piercy has invented her fictional characters and the kinds of situations in which they find themselves, she clearly has done a great deal of research about the Second World War and so the novel is filled with historical details that provide the reader with information about the war itself. But like most historical novels, its the human element the suffering, the courage, the sorrow and heartbreak -- that makes this book so hard to put down. Its hard to imagine what it must have been like to live through the period from 1939 -1945. But GONE TO SOLDIERS makes it quite clear that were it not for the sacrifices and the pain thousands and thousands of people endured our lives today would be very different.
Strong females-a French resistance fighter, a pilot, an OSS agent, a Jewish child shipped to the US, a fiction writer turned journalist, Rosie the Riveter and somewhat more typical males-a cryptocanalyst, an artist turned spy, a merchant marine, a marine fighting through the Pacific-tell separate stories of WWII all recounting tales of death, life, love, pain, suffering, redemption.
This book is split into chapters following 8 peoples lives during WWII. The characters are vast, from an intelligence officer to the families left at home to "carry on" and a Jewish resistance fighter. The book is authentically somber and spares no detail. It is a must for anyone interested in the time of war. Even though it is a long book, the chapter transitions make it an easier read.
"Piercy follows the lives of ten ordinary people - six women and four men - as they move through the dizzying atmosphere of the world's wartime capitals: the impulsive couplings and bittersweet partings, the stultifying deprivations and the once-in-a-lifetime chances. Most of all, she shows how World War II became a crucible, where unformed young people were hardened into men and women, charged with saving civilization as no generation had before or has since." (from back cover)