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Margaret from Maine: A Novel by Joseph…

Margaret from Maine: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Joseph Monninger

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5218225,591 (3.6)6
Title:Margaret from Maine: A Novel
Authors:Joseph Monninger
Info:Plume (2012), Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Collections:Your library

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Margaret From Maine by Joseph Monninger



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Review:Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger.

This is not my everyday type of book but it was well written and I enjoyed the sentiment behind the story. When things around us are so involved with the Military and Veterans a story of this magnitude hits home. It’s a based on romance but also it reflects on what happens to our military and their families. The strength of the main character, Margaret Kennedy is overpowering.

Margaret Kennedy’s husband, Thomas was considered a war hero. When he left his comfortable farm life to serve for his country he was an energetic happy farmer living on his father’s farm with Margaret and their baby boy, Gordon. Margaret loved the farm and all the animals too. She helped with all the farm work and continued milking cows and feeding livestock even after Thomas went to Afghanistan.

Tom was back home in Maine now and his son was six years old but he never got to remember his father. His father came home in a coma and never woke up. He only knows his father by visiting him in a Veterans home a few miles from their farm. Margaret went and visited Tom about every other day but thought is was better if their son went less. At that time Thomas had been in the Veterans Home for about four years in a vegetated state lying on a bed that was made to turn him in a rotating position to prevent bed sores.

That was only a brief incident to the story but never forgotten. The author kept Thomas’s character within the book throughout. The story is about Margaret and how she remained devoted to her husband after falling in love with another Foreign Service officer, Charlie King. She was invited to an award ceremony in the nation’s capitol for her husband and Charlie King was her escort. He was still in the military but had also been injured and had one leg amputated. Charlie had gone through a tragedy himself and had to learn how to walk all over again with a prosthetic leg and go through the emotions of finding how to stay in the military and to do something he would enjoy. Soon Charlie would be leaving the States for a diplomatic post in Africa that he was excited to do and had been waiting for.

One thing leads to another and Charlie and Margaret fall in love. Hesitant but after being lonely for years she surrenders to a few days of romance. Now Margaret has a major decision to make and it torments her to no end. Will Margaret of Maine find a solution to the love and devotion she feels for her husband Thomas or the love and happiness she has for Charlie…..A great story with tears among the pages and love for Margaret’s strength and happiness….
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  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
A sadly "sweet" story with the emphasis on sweet. I liked The World As We Know It better. The last "chapter" in this audio version, read by Tavia Gilbert, easily brings tears to one's eyes. I really liked the author's effort to show war from the injured family's point of view---how can it ever be worth it once you're in their shoes but so often, as shown, people get into situations for all kinds of reasons, not realizing what could happen as that situation evolves....a tragedy in so many directions. ( )
  nyiper | Mar 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger; an ARC/ER; thank you

Margaret is widowed in almost every sense of the word. Her husband lies in a nursing home in a vegetative state after having been injured in Afghanistan. She remains a very loyal wife and feels responsible for him and to him. She cares for their young son and works the family dairy farm along with her father-in-law.
In the meanwhile, she falls in love with another man but does not permit herself to pursue this relationship because her husband is still technically 'alive'. The story highlights the grief that many military families experience. Grief in all forms and not just that reserved for death. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Feb 7, 2014 |
Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger
This book is about Margaret and it starts out with the injury of her husband in the war. He was told the dairy farm would receive help from the government if he went to fight for his country. He's now in a coma.
6 years later we find Margaret at the farm milking the cows, doing daily chores.
her father in law Benjamin runs the farm with help from her and her and Thomas' son, Gordon.
Story also follows Charlie who is an amputee and he is to escort Margaret to DC to be with the president when he signs a law.
Love they read a book to Gordon nightly! Listening to the evening at the ball sounds so luscious.
Love the travel and locations they travel to as I've never been to DC.
The book also follows Donny and Blake and their problems with life. Gordon also has nightmares and tries to figure things out.
This book was recommended from another author and I love how the flowers are related to the chapters and the story that are being told.
Nods to this book as not many can bring tears and very hidden feelings out.
Loved the travel, story line and the things I learned, and I will seek out other books by this author, like they style of writing. ( )
  jbarr5 | Mar 15, 2013 |
Literati_lit's review Mar 02, 13 · edit

My Private Notes:

Author: Joseph Monninger

Title: Margaret from Maine

Publisher: Plume (Penguin)

Release date: December 24, 2012

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Description:

The end of Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy’s conscious life is ushered in by a flash of light on a plain in Afghanistan. While he languishes in a veterans’ hospital, Thomas’s devoted wife, Margaret, is raising their son on a dairy farm in rural Maine. She receives an invitation to Washington, DC, to meet the President of the United States as he signs a bill in support of wounded veterans with war veteran and West Point graduate Charlie King as her appointed escort. Charlie and Margaret’s shared circumstances inspire them to confide in one another. Suddenly, the pair creates a private world all their own, leaving the effects of war behind them. Margaret’s vows to her husband linger, raising a series of harrowing choices.


Rating: 3.5/5

In this story we are given a woman living her day to day life on a dairy farm in Maine with her son Gordon and father-in-law Ben, keeping herself together and poised as ever. She’s a simple woman, not wanting for much, and considering which direction her life has taken, that says a lot about her character and strength. Unfortunately we never really get to “meet” her husband, Thomas, because he’s now just a shadow of the man he once was. He joined the Reserves, just like countless others do, to help support their life and possibly do something bigger. But, life had a different plan for him. He is now considered an injured veteran and with that label comes a very tricky and sometimes treacherous path to be on. Being married to an injured veteran with Tom’s specific condition, Margaret is invited to attend a bill signing in Washington D.C. that is meant to improve the lives and care options for these tattered soldiers. With that invitation came Charlie King, her assigned escort. It’s when Charlie and Margaret are together that we see just what she is missing in her life and I felt empathy for her. Yes she is a married woman, and those vows I do not take lightly, but I could also see her daily sacrifices slowly destroying her and I knew deep down that embracing her feelings and thoughts towards Charlie was the right choice for her. Charlie opens a door to a world Margaret knew little of and with that he also awakened something inside her she did not realize had been dormant. She is not just Margaret the dairy farmer/mother/caretaker…she is a woman with needs and yearns for the things taken from her before she had time to really enjoy them. There were times I found myself wishing there was a bit more internal conflict from each character considering certain situations that they were presented with but I was satisfied it wasn’t all sweetness and roses. The subjects dealt with between them deserve an honest light and in order to feel connected with the characters, I need to be able to feel their feelings but also place myself in their shoes. I struggled at times to do that but I never found myself bothered or annoyed with the situations completely.

Charlie is a very honorable and giving man to me and I never once considered him aggressive or opportunistic, which could have been easily done given his particular role in Margaret’s life. He showed true compassion and never failed to put everyone before himself which is a must in my yes column. He has ties to the Army as well as a unique connection to the situation Margaret finds herself in. I won’t spoil the story here, but I will say that the way Mr. Monninger connected Margaret and Charlie was thoughtful, respectful, and never once did I find myself questioning the purpose.

Margaret and Charlie embark on a journey together and the style of descriptive writing used here both enhanced it and overshadowed it at times. It took me a moment or two to really get into the story at the beginning and I did find myself wondering why certain elements of the background were included the way they were. By the time I reached the end of the book I realized that although they weren’t necessary to push the story forward, they were elements that added to my overall experience within the story.

“For the last three sunsets the prism had caught fire and it did not disappoint her this night. It sparkled bright white for just an instant, and she thought of Thomas, and she thought of good grace falling over the farm, and she hugged Gordon as the prism accepted light, bent it, and sent it on its way. She felt a lesson rested in its performance, that she, too, must accept what came toward her and pass it on its journey, but that seemed too grand an idea for the moment.”

Although Margaret and Charlie are mean to be modern day people they did speak and have thoughts that seemed slightly outdated but it did not detract too much from the story for me. If anything I considered them polite and proper, with maybe even a touch of southern style.

I was drawn to this book for one reason…Margaret is a military spouse. As one myself, I am always interested to see how authors handle this very different life we live. Which aspects are covered and which are barely touched out of fear of the unknown are typically the first thoughts I have when I read a synopsis that includes any mention of military married life. Most people have ideas of what military spouses face but I can say, without a doubt, their ideas don’t even scratch the surface. Regardless of the branch of service their spouses serve, they all have had to face the same trials and tribulations in some form or another. Long separations, the worry of unknown dangers, and carrying the responsibilities alone that most share with others are a constant presence in a military spouse’s daily life. There are sacrifices made by both the active duty member as well as his/her spouse but the focus and point of discussion is typically only on the soldier’s side of the spectrum. I’m not implying that a soldier’s sacrifice is in any way lessened because it’s their sacrifices that keep our country safe from harm, and that in itself is the biggest one a person can make. Even after these troops return safely to their families, there are even more obstacles and worries that must be overcome in order to find peace with what each has experienced during a deployment. It’s a very tricky situation to be in and their inner strengths are tested again and again long after the battle has been fought. War changes people regardless of the uniform or responsibilities held during it. It forces us to accept a reality that most would like to ignore and pushes our strength and resolve beyond every limit we felt existed.

This story highlights just a fraction of what our troops and their families face upon their return but it was done with tastefulness that I respect. I will say that Mr. Monninger handled the role of a military spouse with class and dignity, never once casting Margaret, or other military spouses, in a poor or weak manner and I certainly appreciated it. I enjoyed this book and felt that it ended appropriately leaving the imagination to do what it was designed to do. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to step into the delicate but muck covered shoes of a military spouse.


“She did, in fact, believe her husband Tom had acted bravely, but she did not see it in quite the same light as others wanted to see it…..She knew her husband—saw him bracketed by his son on one side, his father on the other—and she did not believe he would have acted courageously for a concept as vague as patriotism. No, it made perfect sense that he would raise his arms and try to protect a fellow soldier, but that had nothing to do with God and Country and flag waving.”


“Did you believe in the war, Charlie?” Margaret asked softly, her eyes studying the statue.

“Which one?”

“Is there a difference really? I suppose there is. I’m cynical. After Thomas, I don’t have much faith in any of it. I imagine I did at one point. We were told so many lies and I believed them.”

“I think a lot of my friends still believe in the cause,” Charlie said, not sure of himself where he was heading with it, “because to go back on it now makes us…what? Murderers? Professional assassins? I’ve had trouble with it.”
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  LiteratiLit | Mar 2, 2013 |
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When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd

And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd -- and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

-- Walt Whitman
This novel is dedicated in loving memory of my mother, Mary Deborah Brennan Monninger.
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The last sound Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy heard was the whine of a mosquito.
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Brought together by war, separated by duty, a love story for the ages.

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