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 laborer 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 sustains her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.
Dance the Moon Down is an epic tale of historical fiction. The reader is given a slice of times in the past and how those moments helped furrow Victoria's life. Raised as a middle class young lady, Victoria longs to further her education and it is at the university that she meets the first two people who will change her life. One is Beryl, an outspoken, opinionated woman who speaks out for women's rights. The other is Gerald, the man that Victoria falls in love with and yearns to spend the rest of her life with.
While the two get married, war has just broken out between Germany and Gerald wastes no time in signing up. But before long, he becomes one of the missing, even though Victoria is adamant that he is alive. She spends much time looking for him and yearning for him, whilst trying to stay true to herself and her vows. But life has a way of throwing challenges at us without warning, and Victoria does her best to dance the dance of life.
Dance the Moon Down is very easy to read and the authenticity of the factual points really gives the story believability. Victoria is a strong character, who remains human and matures even as she faces adversity repeatedly. Bartram has created very unique characters that seem realistic in such a war-torn setting. Highly recommended if you enjoy seamless writing and historical fiction!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.