Marie A. (Warner, NH)
In The Daughters of Mars, Thomas Keneally aptly provides his readers with the horrors, pain and destruction of war, specifically World War I, on humanity and on the environment. Furthermore, we are privy to the relationship between the Durance sisters, both Australian nurses, and the interactions of the many characters involved with and changed by the circumstances of war.
The end results for many of the characters are not always uplifting thus mirroring the bleakness of war and its effects on those touched by it. Keneally shows the vastness of war as well as the details of it.
Interestingly, Keneally provides alternate endings for the protagonists--a great springboard for discussion among book club members
I enjoyed the novel and highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a long novel about relationships--both enduring and lost--heroism, and the details and casualties of war.
Kathryn K. (Oceanside, CA)
I had really looked forward to reading Thomas Kennelly's latest book, Daughters of Mars. It is a story about two sisters from Australia, who volunteer to become nurses during WWI. Not knowing much about WWI, it really appealed to me and I had visions of an early 20th century version of M.A.S.H. -- albeit about my grandfather's military. But it was a ponderous read and very disappointing. There were chapters that I found interesting, but without details about the war that would anchor the story, a lot of what I read just got lost in a narrative that didn't make a lot of sense. It was almost as if the writer took a bunch of "stories" and threw them together hoping readers would somehow get it. It was like trying to complete a puzzle with way too many pieces missing. When I finished the last page I just shook my head thinking – what?! It is not a book I would recommend to anyone - least of all, my book groups.
Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)
The sisters showed pure determination in dealing with all the situations they endured as volunteer nurses during World War I. As I plodded through the pages of this book, I felt like it was pure determination on my part to keep on going so that I could write a review. The writing style was very difficult to read. I often had to go back to get the meaning of a passage, or to be sure of which character the author was talking about. I am a reader who reads every word of a book, and "whoa", did I have my work cut out for me. If I had it to do over again I would have taken notes from the beginning to keep track of locations, characters, battles, etc. Maps and perhaps charts of the battles and locations, etc. would have been helpful, especially to readers who are unfamiliar with WWI.
I did give the book a rating of 4, because in the midst of the verbosity of the book, I do think this was an above average book. I came away with a awareness of this war that I didn't have before. There were many interesting issues raised that would be worthy of discussion. I feel that the book could have been improved by a style that would have been easier to read.
I am glad that I read The Daughters of Mars, but I am relieved to have reached the end of the book. And I would be happier if I knew how it really did end!
Anne (Austin, TX)
The Daughters of Mars
This is a huge book with a large cast of characters and a massive story to tell. Written from the point of view of nurses and other medical personnel who cared for those wounded on the front lines of WWI, it is unique. From sinking ships to mustard gas burns to shell shocked soldiers and nurses who love them, Keneally lives up to the reputation he gained from Schindler's List and others he has written. He tells the story in a way that makes you feel almost as though you can smell the rot and the fetid air the gassed soldiers are coughing up. I gravitate to books with a medical perspective and this one has the added benefit of being a story not often told.
Like others, I'm not sure I understand the twist at the end but think it would make a great discussion topic. Plenty of topics for a book club to dissect and discuss.
Diane S. (Batavia, IL)
Daughters of Mars
I love historical fiction and I really admired Schindler's list. This is an epic novel that seemed to go on and on. Loved the historical facts, loved the two sisters and the closeness they at times shared. So why didn't I love this novel? There is a fine line, between adding details to keep the reader interested in the story and adding details in such a quantity that it overwhelms the reader. That is what I felt happened in this story. Every time I felt myself melding into the story it would go wandering off on some detail or tidbit that would interrupt the narrative flow. The lack of punctuation did not bother me half as much as the endless details. Yet, I cannot deny the amount of research that went into this novel. Just wish I could have enjoyed it more.
Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)
Daughters of Mars
Daughters of Mars was an interesting perspective of WWI through the eyes of Naomi and Sally. I did have a bit of trouble getting used to the way it was written. Once I did, I had a hard time putting the book down. I liked the way the sisters became friends during the hardships that they endured. I also liked how their love lives developed out of friendship. Naomi and Sally both got into nursing to get away from the family farm and found their true calling. It seems as if they truly enjoyed nursing the wounded. I think it's always interesting to read about medical practices so different from what we're used to today and I am horrified at the arcane medical techniques and surprised to learn many survived. I did have to read the end a couple of times to discern who actually died and I don't think I understand where the author got the name of the book. All in all, it was a very enjoyable book and I would highly recommend it.
Gary R. (Bolingbrook, IL)
The war to end all wars!
Another great book by a master.a tale of two Aussie sisters who volunteer as nurses during the great war.really enjoyed this book,the descriptions of the conditions that existed and the horrors everyone endured we're written as if Keneally was there.read this this book,it will make you realize that our methods of killing may have changed but in the end it's always the endurance and heroics of the people that matter!