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on 25 June 2013
Review
****.5 Rating 4.5
A Pledge of Silence is a superb fictional novel relating to the experiences of military nurses caught up in the fall of the Philippines during WW II to Japanese forces.
In 2000, Little River, Michigan, Margie Porter, nee Bauer, 81 years old, has just been to the funeral of her only daughter Barbara. Upset and grieving, she returns alone to the old family home to retrieve her mementos from the 1940s and is transported back in time to the memories of when she was a seventeen year old, going out with her childhood sweetheart, Abe.
Always yearning to be a fashion designer, instead she follows her Father's wishes to study nursing; a career, which ends up disastrously. On completing her course, she is unable to follow her friend, Evelyn into Naval Nursing and she signs up as a Reserve Nurse; one of 22,000 nurses who apply. She is accepted and finds herself in the enchanting Philippines, where the hours are short and the free time is spent, now single, socialising with friends, including Evelyn, and the military doctors. There she meets Surgeon Royce Sherman, and falls in love.
On first meeting Evelyn's boyfriend Max Renaldo, Margie takes an instant dislike to him; little knowing how much he will feature in her life and the consequences she then endures. Although he is an excellent surgeon, he is egotistical, arrogant and has a flawed character.
All too quickly, the luxurious life ceases when the Japanese forces invade. Warning signs of the impending invasion were ignored and death and destruction are now everywhere. The survivors feel abandoned by General McArthur; left without military cover and supplies. The trials and experiences suffered by the American forces, including the nurses, medical staff and civilians are horrifying. Being moved from one medical facility to another and operating under horrendous conditions until at last there is only the stronghold of Corregidor, but even that eventually won't stand the bombardment of the enemy guns. Taken prisoner with the other survivors in 1942 they are tortured, beaten and raped by Japanese guards, who largely do not hold POW lives of value. Loved one, friends and many, many patients do not survive and their loss is felt keenly. I won't give away the plot as A Pledge of Silence is a "must read".
Although slow paced at first, whilst Flora J. Solomon cleverly introduces the young, immature and naive Margie it soon picks up pace, contrasting the luxurious lifestyle to the depredation, which takes place almost overnight. It is a nightmare, where quick decisions have an everlasting impact on lives. Solomon takes the difficult subject of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, not recognised or understood in WW 11, and gives a sympathetic account of its effects on the individuals, families and friends. The situation made worse by the treatment of the American military and the signing of "The Pledge of Silence" for POWs.
I really enjoyed The Pledge of Silence and the developing characters by Flora J. Solomon, it brought me a history that I did not know much about and the effects it had on the survivors and families. The characters are handled with empathy and although you may not agree with some of the individual's actions, on most occasions you can understand why. "An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour". I will remember the novel and this adage for a long, long time.
I received a copy of The Pledge of Silence from NetGalley, for an honest review. Thank you.
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on 29 April 2014
This story made me cry from the very first chapter. Margie is eighty one years old and attending the funeral of her daughter Barbara Ann who is has passed away suddenly. She is there with her son Gary and his wife for support but is finding it all too difficult to cope with as she feels she did not show her daughter enough love during her life.
After Margie is left safely in her new house she decides to go back to the house where she raised her family in order to feel closer to the memory of Barbara Ann. We are then told the story of her life from her childhood in Little Michigan to a wartime career in nursing,a career she did not want and only took that path to please her father.
I always enjoy books set during the war but I didn't expect this book to take me to a Japanese prison camp and move me so much, it was like watching a film where you are perched on the end of your seat never knowing what might happen next.
Although this is a fiction story it is based on true events. The thought of all those women going through absolute hell on earth is just unbelievable. There are so many twists in this book and quite a few shocks that I found it hard to put it down even for a minute.
Margie is a lovey girl,very naive having been brought up in a small town with doting parents. She makes good lifelong friendship while in Japan and some which turn to betrayal. She falls in love, but in the midst of war sometimes love can be fleeting. My heart broke for what she and the other women had to suffer.
I had never heard of the Malinta underground tunnel hospital where the nurses and cilvillians hid from the Japanese soldiers and can only imagine what it felt like to have to live there while being bombarded and with fear of capture. As if that wasn't enough Margie had the dreadful Max Renaldo to contend with and the conclusion to that is beyond belief.
I don't think this is a book you will find easy to forget, it was in my head days after I read it and is definitely one of the best books I have read this year.
If you enjoy books set during wars then you'll love this one.
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on 23 March 2013
This is an excellent novel, based on true happenings, which makes it a real page turner. Set in the 1940's around the time of America's involvement in WW2 it tells the story of Margie, a nurse. I don't want to say too much more, for fear of spoiling the plot, but this is one that I for one, couldn't put down. I have no hesitation in recommending it wholeheartedly and I look forward to reading more by this author.
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on 19 March 2013
A Pledge of Silence was on the best books I have read in a long while. Gripping from start to finish. I couldnt put the book down. A Real page turner. You will live Margie's life and experience with her, sharing her civilian life and war time service and the hardships and torment that she endured. An excellent first novel by Flora J Solomon, and I look foward to reading her next novel.
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on 11 March 2016
I am glad I read this book which shows the part some women played in the
Second World War in the Far East, something that has not been publicised.
There was silence over what all those involved suffered for many years, both male
and female and very little known about the women. I would happily have given
more stars (5) to this book, but could not say I loved this book. It was shocking
in places but very well written and the contrast for the heroine Margie between
her pre-war life, her war life where she met incredible challenges with such courage,
and the impact on her post war were very clear and real.
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on 14 March 2016
I really did enjoy this. The story of Margie and her experiences as an American nurse held prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines is sad, brutal and ultimately uplifting. Occasionally a little confusing for readers like me who were not previously fully informed with regard to the intricacies of WW2 in this particular part of the world. Nevertheless, this book is well written and absorbing.
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on 7 October 2015
Very well written and great descriptive powers. I felt like I was watching a drama the writing was that vivid. This book gives a great insight into the role played by the women in the war, while it describes the horrors it is done in such a way that there also seems to be a positive side too. I would highly recommend book.
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on 13 October 2015
To me it was faultless. Couldn't wait to pick up and didn't want to put down. Not always a pleasant thing because of the subject, but very evocative. I learned quite a lot from this novel that had been unaware of before (probably because British)
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on 6 March 2016
I loved this from start to finish. Taught me a lot about the war that I had no idea about. Told in an honest yet sympathetic style, the brutalities of war and how the aftermath can live on in the mind. Loved it and totally recommend.
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on 22 February 2016
Even before I finished this book I looked to see what else the author had written so I could buy it in readiness and discovered it was her first. That's a pity, but let's hope the writer does not stop with the one book.
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