Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary (from the publisher): A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.
In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.
A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.
Review: This is a hard book to review; while I read it quickly and enjoyed the reading, I had a few complaints. Most of the story is set on the island of Bora Bora during World War II, so the descriptions of the setting were beautiful and unique among the World War II books that I've read recently. I was hoping for a little more information about the war in the Pacific, or the challenges a nurse might experience in that arena, but the story mainly revolved around friendships between the nurses and servicemen, the romance between the main characters, and the very light mystery. This book was definitely more of a beach read and less of a serious historical novel.
While Anne was a likable character, she didn't have enough depth for me to truly understand or empathize with her. She made a rash decision to abandon her charming, wealthy, understanding fiancee to join her friend as an army nurse, then she spontaneously fell in love with a soldier, and then she refused to have a real conversation with her best friend, her lover, or the native girl she tried to help. Instead, she jumped to conclusions and made decisions about her life without trying to discover the truth. The ending wrapped things up nicely, but a little too neatly, especially considering the age of the main characters.
Rating: 3.5 stars