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‘Margaret From Maine’ intriguing tale of life after war

Soldiers return from our current wars every day. Some are whole, some are injured. None will be the same. Their families are overjoyed to have them home, but sometimes they can’t understand the pain, the nightmares or the stress.

In the novel “Margaret From Maine,” Joseph Monninger looks at what happens with the families of soldiers when unexpected tragedy occurs and lives are changed forever.

Margaret Kennedy’s husband, Sgt. Thomas Kennedy, returned home from his tour in Afghanistan in an irreversible coma with no hope of recovery. While he is cared for in a veteran’s hospital in Bangor, Maine, Margaret continues to run the family farm and care for her young son. It’s hard, but it’s something Margaret knows she must do.

Margaret is loyal to her husband and their marriage, but there are times when the loneliness is overwhelming. While her friends and family try to understand her pain, only Margaret knows the darkness of the nights spent alone.

As the wife of a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Margaret is invited to attend a special bill-signing ceremony for a wounded warriors bill in Washington, D.C., and her friends and father-in-law urge her to attend, looking at the time as an opportunity to get away from the stress of everyday life. After much thought, she agrees to go, and is assigned an escort to help her navigate the ins and outs of Washington.

Charlie King is a wounded former solider himself, having lost a leg in the line of duty. He is now a new Foreign Service officer awaiting his first assignment. It is his honor to be an escort for the young wife from Maine, and he knows something of what she is going through, as his brother was also in a vegetative coma for many years.

Margaret and Charlie hit it off immediately, commiserating with each other and finding common ground. It looked to become a fascinating weekend, but neither of them expected to find themselves in a situation where romantic sparks would begin to fly.

In “Margaret From Maine,” Monninger does an exceptional job of presenting this intriguing story through the eyes of both the woman and man. He captures Margaret’s struggle with being loyal to her husband, her family and her life at home while yearning for just a taste of how it would be to be the center of someone’s life again.

Monninger also presents Charlie as a sympathetic character who doesn’t plan to romance the beautiful Margaret, but is also gentle, considerate and understanding of their circumstances. The outcome of the story is surprising, and the entire tale brings light to the anguish and turmoil that so many families face today.

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