Carol T. (Ankeny, IA)
Daughters of Mars is excellent in so many ways. Not only has Keneally created an enthralling plot and interesting three-dimensional characters, but he managed to write in a way that captures 1915. I could be reading a diary written then, not a novel from nearly 100 years later.
Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally
I had a hard time getting used to the lack of commas and quotation marks in this tale of two sisters who nurse for Australia during World War I. Although slow and quite lengthy, the book held my interest with details of nursing under primitive conditions during war conditions. The most interesting parts for me were the descriptions of life aboard ship on the journey to Egypt from Australia and then in the war zone of Gallipoli. The horror of war was clearly indicated in the details of battle injuries and the care available both in the Dardanelles and later in France. The tragedy of the influenza epidemic of 1919 makes up the later part of the book.
The sisters, their nurse companions and the soldiers they work with and fall in love with comprise the characters in the novel. Book groups will find many topics to discuss including class distinctions, city versus farm life, Quakers and war, biological weaponry, courage under great duress, disfigurement and disability, and the roles of women.
Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
Women of World War 1
This novel, by the author of Schindler's List, Thomas Keneally, has something for everyone. It is World War l from a different perspective, that of two Australian nurses, sisters (Sally and Naomi), who are haunted by memories of a past deed. They travel to Egypt, France etc. aboard a hospital ship and later to other hospitals and the front lines. Throughout this story, with war always as a background, there is love and romance, bravery and death and we live it along with the heroes and heroines. I found one reference to Mars, the Roman God of war, in a letter written to one of the sisters, "And if not immediately required to spread myself ON THE ALTAR OF MARS------". Thought the book began a little slowly, but it came to a point where I couldn't put it down! Felt the few references to "Jewishness" were unnecessary. Maybe the author wanted to remind us of his other book? The story of the young man who was a Friend (Quaker) and his religious beliefs about bearing arms was very interesting. Quotation marks were not used in the book. Not sure why. And then there was the ending! I reread it several times to understand what actually happened. Will be thinking about it for some time to come!
David M. (Glendale, CA)
Battlefield Nurses – Valor on the Front Lines
Through the eyes of two dedicated nurses, Keneally's Daughters of Mars provides a first-hand journey through the horrors of Word War I. Overall, the novel offers a riveting account of romance, heartbreak, friendship, devastation, hope and humanity near the frontlines of some of the most horrendous battles of the 20th century. Along with packing in endless characters, events, and emotions, Keneally's smooth and easy writing style presents the reader with a very believable narrative.
Colleen L. (Casco, ME)
If you ever wondered what World War I was like....
Daughter of Mars is an exceptional novel. From the moment I received the novel, I just couldn't stop reading it. The story is about two sisters who are nurses from Australia who volunteer to travel to France during World War I and care for injured soldiers. The book opens at home, though, with the illness of their mother. Circumstances surrounding the illness impact the sisters and create an unresolved secret that impacts their closeness throughout most of the book.
Initially, I did not think that I would enjoy the novel. The author does not write it from either Naomi or Sally's perspective but rather from a third person perspective throughout. After a few chapters, however, this no longer bothered me and the author's view enabled me to 'see' the action from all character's view. The descriptions of the war, the injured, the sinking of ships and death of warriors were all so real and vivid. I felt tired when the nurses were tired and discouraged and scared when they were.
Today, we read more books about World War II and tend to forget how long and horrific World War I was. The medicine that was available at that time and the surgical practices at the time....all so primitive compared to what we have today.
The story of Naomi and Sally, though, is equally compelling as the story of War. The story of how they developed a closeness and of the men they meet and love. This was a very poignant story and a heart tugging one.
I believe that this book will appeal to a broad audience - both male and female. The details of World War I are historically accurate and portray the battles as they occurred year after year. The love stories in the midst of the battle lend hope to the incredible circumstances that the doctors and nurses faced in such difficult and challenging conditions. I believe this book should be made into a movie. It is a moving tribute to all those who placed their lives in jeopardy in World War I and a movie should be made to honor these brave men and woman. This was an awesome book and I believe Thomas Keneally has a huge bestseller on his hands.