Carol J. (Isle, MN)
Daughters of Mars
Must admit it took me a few pages to get into this book, but once I was grabbed I enjoyed it completely. It was a very detailed accounting of WWI's casualties and the nurses and doctors who took care of them.
As a nurse who served in the Army, I found this book even more intriguing. The detail was amazing.
The characters were very well developed, so that I felt I knew them well and did not want any harm to come to them. There was always that sense that anything could happen to any of the characters.
And of course the ending was jaw dropping. So frequently the ending of a book is a let down. Definitely not in this book.
I would highly recommend the book. Although one needs to devote plenty of time to read it in all its detail,
Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
Daughters of Mars is Mesmerizing
I would like to thank BookBrowse for giving me the opportunity to read this exceptional novel. It tells the story of some of the unsung heroines of World War 1: the volunteer nurses. Through the lives of the Durance sisters and the other members of their Australian nurses corps, Keneally does a terrific job of conveying their courage and fortitude in the face of unimaginable horror and privation. The book was absorbing from start to finish, but I have to confess the ending took me completely by surprise and I am still thinking about it--a week after finishing the book. Put this book on your must read list.
Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
Keneally is back!
I love this book. How could I not? A favorite author who has written, besides Schindler's List, a string of novels of life in Australia . . . a favorite setting for fiction, WWI. Think Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy, Sebastien Japrisot's "A Very Long Engagement". Hallelujah!
Dee H. (Greenfield, CA)
War is Grim
This was a very good book with excellent character development and what I believe was an accurate picture of what went on in the field hospitals of WWI. The view of the war through the eyes of two Australian nurses who are sisters stretches from Egypt, where the sisters deal with the aftermath of the battles at Gallipoli, to France, where the casualties of the Somme relentlessly fill the hospitals. Along the way love and loss find the sisters and bring some variety to the daily struggle to help combatants survive.
I put off finishing this book because I feared that it wasn't going to end well, but I did finish it and I heartily recommend Daughters of Mars to anyone who enjoys historical novels. Be warned that the descriptions of war wounds are pretty graphic, but don't let that dissuade you from reading this great book from a great author.
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.
Marjorie H. (Woodstock, GA)
Every now and then a book comes along that is extraordinary and "Daughters of Mars" is in that category for me.
The book begins with two Australian sisters who sign on to serve halfway around the world in the medical units of WWI. They are the center of the circle that is ever widening as the story unfolds. They are marvelous characters who share a family secret, a dislike for one another and also the abiding love that two women share as occupiers of the same womb.
The graphic descriptions of wounded soldiers - both physically and mentally may be hard for some to read. However, Kenneally's gift of prose is a 'come hither' invitation. You cannot put it down. The backdrop of the war brings all into focus. The war is a character in the book bringing sick, wounded and dying to suffer their horrors. The realism Kenneally brings to every circumstance puts the reader right in the middle. Each character is carefully drawn - rich and real.
Some may find the ending not to their liking. I haven't decided whether I liked the ending - may have to re-read.
Don't miss it!!
Charles T. (Asheville, NC)
A different view of the First World War
Thomas Keneally has written an epic novel of the First World War and made it unique by telling the story from the viewpoint of Australian nurses and soldiers instead of the traditional viewpoint of the French and the English and the Americans. The Australian insistence on non conscription forces and volunteers, gives that country a place in the horrible fighting that sets them apart and supports the indefatigable efforts of the country's nurses and soldiers. The book is magnificent in it's characters, plot and language.
The author uses dialogue with no punctuation so it is completely unobtrusive and effective in moving the action and at the same time adds dimension to the characters.
The plot revolves around the Durrance sisters and their nursing work close to the front lines that tells the story of the brutality of the fighting better than blow-by-blow descriptions of the actual combat.
One of the main points of the book is the age old question of the morality of pacifists who participate in war. A primary character is a Quaker (Friends) who is found guilty of treason because of his refusal to be transferred from a medical support unit to a weapon carrying unit.
I'm not sure what the author is trying to do by confusing the reader with two endings but It didn't do justice to the bulk of the book.