Song for a Soldier follows two couples through World War I. Both start out with the promise of young love but find that war and separation can be cruel marital companions. While one couple survives, another does not. The fictionalization includes the Christmas truce of 1915 and highlights the power of friendship to end conflict.
This is a sweet yet tragic tale about the human cost of war. The characters and storytelling is heartfelt and well-constructed.
I enjoyed seeing a well-known story retold through fictional characters. The moment of the truce is as touching fictionalized as in any other representation I’ve seen. That said, it was a challenge to portray something so told and retold. Comparison occasionally pulled me out of the story and made it difficult to stay connected. However, I was tearful at the climax due to the gentle treatment given by the author.
I often struggle with “sweet” genres because the characters feel so false. I wish the characters had had more depth. They are so good that they were interchangeable. I wanted a touch more humanity beyond sadness in tragedy and happiness in love. The dialogue was also a bit stilted, largely due to a stylistic choice to sound poetic and old-fashioned. But it made it hard to connect to the characters and robbed me of another possible layer of complexity.
Fans of sweet genre won’t complain. The characters do grab your heart enough to sustain the story. I was saddened by the tragedies and I did want the best for each family. While it may lack the gut and grit of contemporary works, it has enough nostalgia to satisfy most readers of historical fiction.