The Widow and Her Hero by Thomas Keneally

About the book

In 1943, when Grace and Leo Waterhouse married in Australia, they were part of a young generation ready to sacrifice themselves to win the war, while being confident they would survive. Sixty years on, as Grace recounts what happened to her doomed hero, she can say what she suspected then: that for many men, bravery is its own end. The tale she tells is one of great love, lost innocence, a charismatic but unstable Irish commander, dashing undercover missions against the Japanese in Singapore, and – in her eyes – reckless, foolhardy exploits. As fresh details continue to emerge, Grace is forced to keep revising her picture of what happened to Leo and his fellow commandoes – until she learns about the final piece in the jigsaw, and an ultimate betrayal.

Reviewed by King’s Somborne Reading Group

Part Boys Own Adventure and part a study of futility of war and heroism for its own sake. It has two narrators and an understated an unsentimental style. Themes of war, heroism, the foolhardy bravery of young men, the danger of delving too deeply into the past and betrayal come out strongly. A truly haunting and compelling novel, quite short for such complexity.
Star rating ***

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1 thought on “The Widow and Her Hero by Thomas Keneally”

  1. Review by Alton Library – Thursday group
    We learnt a bit about Australia and the operations during the war. We found the start slow and the island hopping rather tedious but the revelations disturbing. Close to historical accuracy but fictionalised. Mixed responses to this novel.
    ** 2 stars


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