Dance the Moon Down by R.L. Bartram
Synopsis from Amazon UK:
In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours 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 neighbouring 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 rundown farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will someday return that sustains her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.
As a fan of historical dramas, the WWI era setting of Dance the Moon Down was right up my alley! This novel is full of stories of love and loss in a time of war, it is unique because it presents a look at a woman’s struggle to persevere during war time, after her husband goes missing. The main character, Victoria, is presented with challenges that I imagine were quite typical during WWI. She grew up during a time when women were not allowed many of the liberties the women of today enjoy, so after her husband goes missing necessity forces her to go job hunting. Victoria’s choices are limited because her upbringing did not exactly prepare her to have to join the work force. The war changed a lot of the traditional notions of what a woman’s role should be within society, and as the war progresses Victoria begins to see just how capable she is.
Admittedly, even though I was a history major in college, WWI history is not my strong suite, so there were all kinds of little tidbits about the war that I found fascinating. For example, color me shocked when I came across a mention about a zeppelin attack! First off, I didn’t even know the use of aircraft was possible during this war. I mean, yes, I know about the Wright brothers and all that, but I had no idea that flight technology at the time was sound enough for it to have been used in combat! This war was only 50 years after the Civil War…! Imagine if the North and South had had flight capabilities. That would’ve been a whole ‘nother kind of war! Secondly, the mental image I had of the zeppelin creeping across the sky was laughable because of how slowly they move, but I will grant that at the time it must have been a terrifying sight to behold.
My fascination with the technology of the time aside, this book has another element that I enjoy, mystery. The whole time I was reading I kept being drawn in, because I wanted to know if Victoria’s hopes for her husband’s survival was in vain or if he was indeed still alive. If you like historical dramas and share my interest in things of yesteryear then I recommend you check out Dance the Moon Down!