The Soldier's Wife

A Novel

The Soldier's Wife

The “brilliant, mesmerizing storyteller” (The Washington Post) Joanna Trollope illuminates an experience shared by millions of people:  a soldier’s return to family life causes three generations of a family to struggle with the impact of war on their relationships.


DAN RILEY IS A MAJOR IN THE BRITISH ARMY. After a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, he is coming home to the wife and young daughters he adores. He’s up for promotion and his ex-Army grandfather and father couldn’t be prouder. The Rileys are united in support of Dan’s passion for his career.

But are they really? His wife, Alexa, has been offered a good teaching job she can’t take because the Army may move the family at any time. Her daughter Isabel hates her boarding school—the only good educational option for Army families—and starts running away. And Dan spends all his time on the base, unable to break the strong bonds forged with his friends in battle. Soon everyone who knows the Rileys is trying to help them save their marriage, but it’s up to Alexa to decide if she can sacrifice her needs and those of her family to support Dan’s commitment to his work.

With her trademark intelligence and grace, Joanna Trollope illuminates the complexities of modern life in this story of a family striving to balance duty and ambition.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451672510 | 
  • June 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Soldier's Wife includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Joanna Trollope. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Alexa Riley eagerly awaits the return of her husband Dan, a major in the British Army, after a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. But the long-awaited reunion isn’t as perfect as she imagined, as her husband struggles to put the horrors of war behind him and readjust to family life. But for Alexa—who has been putting her own career dreams on hold while raising their three girls—the distance between them, both while Dan is away and at home, is unbearable. This poignant look at the inner workings of a modern military family questions just how much one is willing to compromise for family and what happens when love and vocation collide. 

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Although Dan has returned home to England, in what ways is he still in Afghanistan? What are some of the biggest adjustments he has to face at home?

2. How do Dan and Alexa both contribute to the breakdown of communication in their marriage? What is the most vi see more

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About the Author

Joanna Trollope
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Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years.  Some of her best known works include Daughters-in-LawThe Other Family, The Rector's Wife, A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress.  She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature.  She lives in England.