The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre. It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country? But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.
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Interestingly enough, though the book may have some political undertones, it certainly is not about politics. Instead, the story is about humanity, and the way Leech decides to portray her characters feels so utterly relatable. Lorna’s internal battle over Paul, John Jo’s attitude when he visits home, Jock’s silent acceptance of his daughter’s choice, Iris’ decision to date William; all of these moments add up to create a vibrant, realistic world. Additionally, Leech constantly reminds the audience to empathize with these people rather than judge them, which is a message that could be applied to real life.
I especially enjoyed the romantic parts of this novel as they made me remember what falling in love for the first time feels like. Leech writes so beautifully and really builds up the tension between Lorna and Paul, which culminates in a gratifying pay off for the emotional investment in these characters. I was honestly terrified that the story would have a sad ending, as most books like this do, but I was relieved that Leech chose to go a different route.
Overall, WAIT FOR ME is a dynamically written tale of love, heartbreak, friendship, and life. It is one of those books that will grab you by the soul and never let go. Caroline Leech has certainly set the bar high for herself with this debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what she will do next.