Dear Tesco Books blog readers,
20 years ago, I wrote a book which was really the turning point in my career. It was called The Rector’s Wife, and it was about what it’s like being married to, and trying to live with, someone else’s vocation.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to look at the subject again, to see if any of the social upheavals we have all been through have made any difference to our ideas about one partner feeling it was expected that they should subsume their lives into the Great Calling of the other…I didn’t want to use the Church as a background again, and it occurred to me that the modern Army is not dissimilar to the way that the Church used to be seen, as something that the general public reveres and admires, but which is, privately, close to impossible to live with.
So, I approached a real live regiment for research. I always research my novels because I want them to reflect areas of modern life that may be more familiar to readers than to me, as accurately as I can. And, after much form filling and exchange of e-mails in this weird, brusque Army jargon, I got MOD clearance (I think they had a bit of trouble understanding that a novelist is not the same thing as a journalist…) and went off to Wiltshire for the first session of my interviews.
They were, I have to say, some of the most fascinating interviews that I have ever done, and because of the stiff upper lip tradition, some of the most touching. I talked to officers and to squaddies. I talked to their wives and girlfriends and teenage children and little children. I saw their quarters and their offices and their sports halls and their shopping parades. I heard their language (filthy at times, yes, and peppered with acronyms) and I heard, very clearly, what a lot of them, women and children particularly, were not telling me.
Everyone was surprisingly open, and the soldiers were sweetly anxious that I should understand how well they do what they do – which, my goodness, they do. After Salisbury Plain, I flew up to Newcastle to see them all on exercise at Otterburn. I have never seen men dirtier or happier. But. There were so many many buts, and most of them unspoken, because the level of loyalty in everyone, to what the soldiers are trying to do, is profound.
I talked to a lot of people after that initial burst. I talked to soldiers who had left the Army, and asked why. I talked to women who had been married to soldiers and couldn’t bear it, and those who were still married to soldiers and were only just bearing it. I talked to people whose fathers had been soldiers and girls who were in love with soldiers or who wanted to be one.
And then, and only then, with my head ringing with all these stories and emotions and conflicts and anxieties, I sat down to write the book which became ‘The Soldier’s Wife’. The characters are all invented. But none of the situations are. This novel is what it feels like to be married to the modern Army.
Joanna Trollope x
Do you have a question for Joanna?
Well, for a chance to win a luxurious pamper hamper or one of 10 signed copies of the Soldier’s Wife, simply post your question for her in the comments section below!
Buy The Solider’s Wife by Joanna Trollope online and in store now!
Terms and Conditions
1. By entering this competition, you agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions. All entry instructions form part of the terms & conditions of this competition.
2. This competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over who is a resident of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, except for employees of The Random House Group Limited (promoter), its subsidiary companies, their families and any other company connected with the competition.
3. The closing date is midnight on the 15th February 2013 (closing date). Entries received after the closing date will not be considered. Responsibility will not be accepted for lost or damaged entries, whether due to system error or otherwise. Proof of entering the competition via booksblog.tesco.com is not proof of the promoter’s receipt of entry.
4. The first prize is 1x signed hardback edition of The Soldier’s Wife plus a Luxury Pamper Hamper. The runner-up prize is 9x signed hardback editions of The Soldier’s Wife. (the prize).
5. Events may occur which render the awarding of the prize impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the promoter and the promoter may, at its absolute discretion, vary, amend or suspend with or without notice.
6. The competition will be judged by the promoter within 5 working days of the closing date (i.e. by the 20th February 2013) and winners will be notified by email within 7 working days of the closing date. the). Failure to accept the prize within 48 hours will result in a redraw and the prize going to a runner up. Tesco and The Random House Group Limited reserve the right to offer the prize to a sulaurbstitute winner. No cash alternative will be offered and no substitute prize will be provided to the original winner.
7. The winner agrees to the promoter’s use of their name, town of residence and photograph in relation to the promoter’s publicity material.
8. The promoter will use your personal information only for the purposes of this competition. Your personal details will not be kept on file by the promoter and will not be passed on to any third parties.
9. The winner’s names, along with the answered questions, will be available on the Tesco Book Blog from the 25th February.
10. The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to the competition.
11. These terms and conditions are subject to English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
12. The promoter’s contact details are: The Random House Group Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA.