Dance the Moon Down by R. L. Bartram: A Book Review

Dance the Moon Down
Author: R.L. Bartram
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Authors OnLine
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 300
Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumors held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father's decision to enroll her at university that began to change all that. There, she befriends the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighboring university that sets the seal on her future.

     After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteers but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria's initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery.

      Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustained her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.

     My Review: Dance the Moon Down focuses on the women who were left behind in England in WWI. The protagonist of the story is Victoria, a newlywed whose husband left to fight in the war. When there is no word from her husband, she begins to fear that something bad has happened to him. Months later, there is still no word from her husband, and the English army believes that her husband is dead. Victoria still has hope that he may be alive, and continues to search for him. When her money is depleted for the resources of her husband’s search, the only job available is working at a farm. There, Victoria makes friends and experiences the value of friendship, while at the same time keeping a vigil for her husband’s return, who is believed by all but her to be dead.

     Victoria is a strong heroine. At first she is naive, but eventually grows wiser. She has an epic and passionate love for her husband, Gerald. She is very obstinate, but her obstinance and determination is the driving force in the novel. Another driving force is her faith and hope that Gerald is alive. There are times throughout the novel that she does doubt her faith, but her friends help encourage and renew her hope, faith, and belief that her husband will return to her. Her friends help Victoria during her darkest moments, and they help give her the strength she needs during her trials. 

     The author captures the setting of the story very beautifully. He portrays the political and social issues of England during WWI, such as the lower working class and the militant women in the suffragette movement. He also captures the women’s fears and worries as their husbands leave them behind and they await for their husbands return, and most of them never return. Some women believed that their husbands were dead, and they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives and remarry only to find the return of their husbands that were assumed dead. The author also paints a vivid description of the battleground in the frontlines.

     Overall, this novel is beautifully written. It is about love, friendship, hope, and faith. It is also about one woman’s neverending belief that her husband will one day return. The author paints a vivid portrait of WWI. This novel is a great tribute to the soldiers who fought in WWI, and the women who loved them.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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