The Pull of the Stars
In Dublin, 1918, a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu is a small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, in "Donoghue's best novel since Room" (Kirkus Reviews)In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders -- Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work. In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

The Pull of the Stars Details

TitleThe Pull of the Stars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 21st, 2020
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316499019
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Ireland, LGBT, Adult, Adult Fiction, Audiobook, Literary Fiction, European Literature, Irish Literature

The Pull of the Stars Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Here we are in the golden age of medicine— making such great strides against rabies, typhoid fever, diphtheria— and a common or garden influenza is beating us hollow. Serious question: were there always this many books about pandemics? Is this like one of those things where you learn about something you'd never heard of before and then, suddenly, it's EVERYWHERE. Because I keep reading these books that were written pre-COVID and pandemics seem to be stalking me.Anyway, I really liked this und Here we are in the golden age of medicine— making such great strides against rabies, typhoid fever, diphtheria— and a common or garden influenza is beating us hollow. Serious question: were there always this many books about pandemics? Is this like one of those things where you learn about something you'd never heard of before and then, suddenly, it's EVERYWHERE. Because I keep reading these books that were written pre-COVID and pandemics seem to be stalking me.Anyway, I really liked this understated exploration of healthcare, illness, maternity, and all kinds of power abuses. The Pull of the Stars is set in Ireland in 1918. It's a book that goes a lot deeper than you may first expect. It takes place over only a few days and barely moves outside of the single room in which Nurse Julia Power cares for those who are pregnant and in quarantine. It was a surprisingly emotional journey following Julia through her day as a nurse, trying to keep fevers down and despair at bay. Trying, against horrendous odds, to deliver healthy living babies.The 1918 influenza was a devastating pandemic. Even as people were killing each other on the battlefields of the First World War, an even more deadly killer was spreading from person to person through love, kindness, touch. Here Donaghue brings a uniquely Irish perspective to the time. With the combination of aversion to contraception, the social pressure to churn out babies (upwards of ten was the norm), sexual abuses in religious institutions and Magdalene laundries, a maternal mortality rate of 15%, AND the pandemic, this was a terrible time and place to be a woman and pregnant.Nurse Power sees mothers trying and failing to give birth to their twelfth child because their bodies can't take any more. She sees young victims of sexual abuse terrified as they are forced to give birth to the babies of the male relatives who raped them. She sees the "fallen women" of Magdalene laundries forced to give up their babies. She sees abuse victims who are afraid to get better and leave the hospital. I found myself wondering who'd put us all in the hands of these old men in the first place. It may seem like the whole story takes place in one small room, but much of the horror that happens there is rooted in far-reaching abuses of power, religious hypocrisy, and social policy. In the early twentieth century, many people really did believe that class was genetic and passed from parent to child, so the doctors in this book dismiss the infants of poor working class people literally from the minute they are born.I would definitely recommend it if you can stomach the gore and the mentions of abuse/incest (all off-page). I liked that the author wove a lot of historical fact with her fiction, including the character of Kathleen Lynn, who I was unfamiliar with. The only thing I didn't love is how the romantic subplot seemed to come flying in out of nowhere with no romantic chemistry suggested beforehand, but it was such a small part of what's going on in this book that I didn't mind very much.Facebook | Instagram
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Dublin, 1918, the world is being ravaged by the Spanish flu, influenza. Men are returning from the war, damaged, changed. Julia is an almost thirty, single woman, living with her brother who cannot or will not speak. She is also a nurse, which is one of the only decent employment available to women. Her hospital is beseiged by flu cases and her ward is one that handles the flu in those that are also pregnant. Staff so short, she is alone, in charge, handling what can only be described as our pre Dublin, 1918, the world is being ravaged by the Spanish flu, influenza. Men are returning from the war, damaged, changed. Julia is an almost thirty, single woman, living with her brother who cannot or will not speak. She is also a nurse, which is one of the only decent employment available to women. Her hospital is beseiged by flu cases and her ward is one that handles the flu in those that are also pregnant. Staff so short, she is alone, in charge, handling what can only be described as our present ICU. Supplies snd medicines are scarce. Sound familiar?Since she is alone, Julia is assigned a young untrained girl to be her runner. Bridie lives with the sisters, nuns who have little mercy for orphans or so called fallen women. Few available doctor's has the hospital allowing a woman doctor, Kathleen Lynn, who is wanted by the police for taking part in protests. Over three days these women will come to mean alot to each other.Medicine was so primitive, there was little that could be done. The accuracy in the writing, the details pull one right in and immerses them in this desperate time frame. Reminded me of a darker, Call if the Midwives, though these sisters were not the kind ones of Nautilus House. Dr. Katherine Lynn was a real person, as is detailed in the authors note, as are many of the historical details.A sad time chronicling the terrible times in the past, parallel to the time happening now. Our medicines and capabilities are better, but still we are at present held hostage by a virus.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    5 Stars, one of the best of 2020Talk about timing. Emma Donoghue became interested in the Great Influenza in 2018 because of the 100 year anniversary. But as she put the final touches on her draft, the corona virus reared its ugly head. Emma Donoghue has always been a master at putting us smack dab in a time and place. Here, it’s Ireland in 1918. WWI is still ongoing and the Influenza has Dublin in its grasp. Nurse Julia Powers is acting matron of the Maternity/Fever Ward. Into her ward comes Br 5 Stars, one of the best of 2020Talk about timing. Emma Donoghue became interested in the Great Influenza in 2018 because of the 100 year anniversary. But as she put the final touches on her draft, the corona virus reared its ugly head. Emma Donoghue has always been a master at putting us smack dab in a time and place. Here, it’s Ireland in 1918. WWI is still ongoing and the Influenza has Dublin in its grasp. Nurse Julia Powers is acting matron of the Maternity/Fever Ward. Into her ward comes Bridie, with no training whatsoever, and Dr. Lynn, a female doctor and Sinn Fein rebel. There are similarities to our current epidemic, with overflowing hospitals, supply shortages and the need for masks, but we also get to see what has changed. No doctors nowadays prescribing alcohol to pregnant women to give them comfort or linseed poultices to cure a cough. And the same lack of understanding about social distancing. “The queue I passed outside the picture house! Grown men, women and children, all gasping to get into the great germ box.”The writing is so detailed, you will feel you are in the room. And the characters come across as fully fleshed. This book just drew me in. It’s not a fast paced story, but I was desperate to know what the outcome would be for them and the patients under their care. The story is heartbreaking. As with our own crisis, the book points out the incredible strain on the workers tasked with caring for the sick. As an interesting side note, Dr. Lynn was a real person. Make sure to read the Author’s Note for her history. My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars rounded to 5 starsWhat a quiet yet powerful little gem this is. Emma Donoghue escaped my radar up until now. The blurb enticed me, and my impulse decision to hit the green Net Galley request button paid off nicely.This is a 3-day slice of life centering on 3 women and several key minor characters. The book takes place during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Much of the story unfolds in the tiny “lyingin ward” (really a small room) for pregnant women ill with the flu in an understaffed hosp 4.5 stars rounded to 5 starsWhat a quiet yet powerful little gem this is. Emma Donoghue escaped my radar up until now. The blurb enticed me, and my impulse decision to hit the green Net Galley request button paid off nicely.This is a 3-day slice of life centering on 3 women and several key minor characters. The book takes place during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Much of the story unfolds in the tiny “lyingin ward” (really a small room) for pregnant women ill with the flu in an understaffed hospital in Dublin. Twenty- nine-year-old Julia Power is an nurse and midwife; we are privy to much of what is in her head. Her volunteer helper is Bridie, “around 22 years-old,” who is a product of the miserable nun-run orphanage in town. Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a member of a rebel group who is wanted by the police, also plays a key role in the novel. Her character is based on a real person of the same name—do not fail to read about her in the wonderful Author’s Note by Ms. Donoghue. Each of these women have their issues that play a major role and influence the relationships forged amongst the three. Interesting side characters include Julia’s brother, rendered mute by his experiences during WWI; orderly Groyne doing his best to cope with issues in his own way; and, of course, the ill mothers-to-be: Honor White, Delia Garrett, Ita Noonan, and seventeen-year-old Mary O’Rahilly, all with their own burdens to bear. This book is not for action fans. It is a slow burn, to be sure, yet it somehow drew me in quickly and captivated me for the duration. Despite it being character-driven and nearly totally confined to one small space, there was a tremendous amount of tension and suspense in that tiny room that shackled me to the pages. Oh, and what a learning experience! Gosh, I took an OB-GYN rotation in medical school, but I was so much more entranced by all the knowledge I gleaned about the state of the art of delivering a baby in the early 20th century in a time of little help and rampant illness. Ms. Donoghue really did her research. The ambiance is well portrayed as the dark and dreary times it was. Such hardships, but how strong people were back then to do the very best they could with the situations they found themselves in. I particularly loved how people by helping others and sticking together could accomplish a great deal in making the most of their lives. This book isn’t for everyone, but it was for me. I highly recommend it for all who are interested in reading about admirable people doing their best under less than ideal circumstances and taking lessons learned from those who pass through their lives. I wish to thank Net Galley, Little Brown and Company, and Miss Emma Donoghue for an advanced copy. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Pain and suffering gather at doorsteps.No particular street. No predestined number. Certainly, without invitation.Julia Power rides her bicycle through the darkened streets of Dublin in the pouring rain. Her destination is the understaffed and over-populated hospital reeling from the onslaught of The Great Flu of 1918. The world, and in particular Ireland, takes on an invisible enemy the likes of which they've never known. And in parallel, the human enemies lay in trenches and on battle fields d Pain and suffering gather at doorsteps.No particular street. No predestined number. Certainly, without invitation.Julia Power rides her bicycle through the darkened streets of Dublin in the pouring rain. Her destination is the understaffed and over-populated hospital reeling from the onslaught of The Great Flu of 1918. The world, and in particular Ireland, takes on an invisible enemy the likes of which they've never known. And in parallel, the human enemies lay in trenches and on battle fields during World War I. Julia's own brother, Tim, has returned from the war altered in every way.But Julia, a trained nurse of nine years specializing in midwifery, trudges up the stairs to come face-to-face with a daunting reality. She will be on call flying solo during her shift today. No extra hands to lighten the burden of caring for women in labor harboring the harsh symptoms of the flu. Julia survived a case of it a few months back. Most doctors have been called to the battlefields with few to take up the gauntlet of fighting this monster pandemic with limited supplies and even less sleep and endurance.Emma Donoghue writes with a sharp-ended pen here dipping into the ink of suffering, remorse, helplessness, and endless heels caught on the rim of hopelessness. The Pull of the Stars speaks to the reality of the times. The birthing is explicit and detailed. Panic rises and rises with very little recourse. If you are of a gentle persuasion, this book may be a bit of heavy lifting for you. But if you lean toward the gallant efforts of humans pushed to the limits, this novel will leave you with a solid respect for those who came before us and for those who still battle the unspeakable every day.Yes, this novel cuts close to the grain as we battle the Covid 19 pandemic. Pain and misfortune will never leave this world. But it is an eye-opener as to how these brave individuals gave their all with such antiquated knowledge and materials. The Irish government set out posters advocating eating onions and wearing eucalyptus to fight the grippe. And in spite of the odds, so many survived. Packed on crowded trams, a bad cough would get the response: "Sure you might as well spray us with bullets."The Pull of the Stars is an exceptional read. Brutal, but not without the essentials of compassion and dedication. And the profound reality is that humanity rises up, time and time again, for another day.I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Little, Brown and Company and to the talented Emma Donoghue for the opportunity.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! Vita gloriosa vita. Life glorious life. There’s an aura throughout this story that is somewhat bleak, while at the same time gripping in the dangers, the then fairly recent uprising that occurred Easter 1916, WWI, the conditions these people face during the 1918 pandemic – something that we have all recently become too familiar with. There’s also so much tender consideration, kindness from this nurse and her young charge that comes to assist the ward where Julia P !! NOW AVAILABLE !! Vita gloriosa vita. Life glorious life. There’s an aura throughout this story that is somewhat bleak, while at the same time gripping in the dangers, the then fairly recent uprising that occurred Easter 1916, WWI, the conditions these people face during the 1918 pandemic – something that we have all recently become too familiar with. There’s also so much tender consideration, kindness from this nurse and her young charge that comes to assist the ward where Julia Power works, the Maternity / Fever ward, designated for those women with the flu who are separated from the healthy maternity patients. Along with that, some lovely writing, too.Julia is a nurse nearing her 30th birthday, and when she arrives at work that morning she’s informed that she will be in charge, for the day, of this newly formed ward, and that the other nurse scheduled is ‘missing in action,’ with two expectant, as well as sick, mothers in her care - one having died during the previous night’s shift. And while no assistant is promised, one eventually appears, Bridie Sweeney. Bridie is a delight, a wonderful addition, both to Julia and to the reader, as she brings much light to this story. A young woman who isn’t quite sure of her age, having been left in one of the Catholic convents, she’s known little of the world, and nothing about love, the only treatment she’s had at the hands of the nuns has not been kind. Bridie shares her story, little by little with Julia. Julia, being a kind hearted woman, cringes a bit at how unflinchingly Bridie shares the trauma she’s endured, but opens her heart more to her in the process of getting to know her, and begins to look forward to her company. This relationship adds so much light that’s so needed in such a dark time. But, there’s so much more to this story than I could tell you in a few short paragraphs. So many of the small details of this might seem too conveniently placed - the lack of disinfectant, the having to make do with other medical necessities normally available, the signs that seem to echo those of our current times, but Donoghue began writing this story in October of 2018, long before this pandemic we are all living through began. So many similarities, the shops closed, companies that appear to be deserted. A changed world from the one they knew, all that and in addition, they were still dealing with the repercussions of the war that only ended in November of that year. Families with losses from both the war and the pandemic.While I haven’t read all of her books, I’ve read a few others by her - Room, Frog Music, and The Wonder and I have to say that out of all of those, that I think that she’s outdone herself with this one, as much as I enjoyed, loved the others. There is so much tenderness in the way these characters are shown, and so much compassion in how this story is shared, it served as a lovely reminder that there still is love, tenderness and compassion in this world. Pub Date: 21 Jul 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by Little, Brown and Company
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    "Cover up each cough or sneeze......fools and traitors spread disease."October 31, 1918. Dublin, Ireland - A war - A pandemic - A hospital maternity/fever ward - A skilled midwife/nurse Julia Power - An able bodied helper/runner Bridie Sweeney - And Dr. Kathleen Lynn, rebel doctor and 'real life' character.The story takes place in three very long exhausting days for a nurse, her helper and a doctor on the run. And everyone is overworked including an annoying singing orderly...that you may just c "Cover up each cough or sneeze......fools and traitors spread disease."October 31, 1918. Dublin, Ireland - A war - A pandemic - A hospital maternity/fever ward - A skilled midwife/nurse Julia Power - An able bodied helper/runner Bridie Sweeney - And Dr. Kathleen Lynn, rebel doctor and 'real life' character.The story takes place in three very long exhausting days for a nurse, her helper and a doctor on the run. And everyone is overworked including an annoying singing orderly...that you may just come to like, dangerously inept doctors and "old crow" Sister Luke, that you probably won't.And whew! If you don't know anything about the technical aspects of childbirth, while fighting contagious flu symptoms, you certainly will after reading THE PULL OF THE STARS. You will also come to know the reason for the unseemly scary chapter titles....RED - BROWN - BLUE - BLACK.For me, a slowly paced start of medical procedures and graphic births changed into enlightenment, an intense fight for life, a surprising relationship and a fast-moving shocker of a conclusion.So......"How do we get back to normal after a pandemic?"......I hope we find out....sooner than later.ARC provided by Little Brown & Company via NetGalley in exchange for review.
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  • sarah xoxo
    January 1, 1970
    "Cover up each cough or sneeze... fools and traitors spread disease." The Pull of the Stars is Emma Donoghue's newest release, eerily relevant to today. We follow Nurse Julia Powers in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 Ireland. She works at an overcapacity hospital in the maternity ward, and we see her both bring life into the world and struggle against the pull of the stars- the merciless influenza. Critically understaffed, Julia takes upon an uneducated volunteer, Bridie Sweeny "Cover up each cough or sneeze... fools and traitors spread disease." The Pull of the Stars is Emma Donoghue's newest release, eerily relevant to today. We follow Nurse Julia Powers in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 Ireland. She works at an overcapacity hospital in the maternity ward, and we see her both bring life into the world and struggle against the pull of the stars- the merciless influenza. Critically understaffed, Julia takes upon an uneducated volunteer, Bridie Sweeny and they slowly grow together."That’s what influenza means, she said. Influenza delle stelle—the influence of the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved that the heavens were governing their fates, that people were quite literally star-crossed. I pictured that, the celestial bodies trying to fly us like upside-down kites. Or perhaps just yanking on us for their obscure amusement."I went into this book solely knowing that this book dealt with the Spanish Flu pandemic in Ireland. While that is true, the novel is very narrow in scope and focus, centring almost entirely in one room, in the span of three days. I think I just went in with the wrong expectations, hoping for a book with a broader look at how society dealt with the illness. Instead, it felt like more of a documentary/slice of life with copious medical and historical details. "It occurred to me that in the case of this flu there could be no signing a pact with it; what we waged in hospitals was a war of attrition, a battle over each and every body."I really enjoyed whenever we got a look at the farer reaching repercussions of the pandemic. From the government's mixed messages, to the disproportionate effect on the poor- I was drawing some frightening parallels between today and over 100 years ago. "The government has the situation well in hand and the epidemic is actually in decline. There is no real risk except to the reckless who try to fight the flu on their feet. If you feel yourself succumbing, report yourself and life down for a fortnight. Would they be dead if they'd stayed in bed?"I also loved the inclusion of real historical figure, Doctor Kathleen Lynn. I was hoping she would be more prevalent in the story- or even that this book centred around her instead- because she was a fascinating character. I appreciated the fact that Emma Donoghue took a genre that oftentimes uses its historical setting to rationalise the erasure of people of different identities and flipped it on its head. We have an LGBT relationship that develops over the story that took me by surprise- but that was perhaps not a positive thing. I felt like the relationship had no build up or hints at romantic chemistry so when it occurred I was taken aback. I would have liked it better if the romance was sprinkled in throughout rather than as an almost plot twist near the end to add emotional stakes. Speaking of the ending, I found it rushed. While thinking back to what occurred, I objectively liked the ending. However the way that it happened felt conflicting with the slower pace of the majority of the book. By the time I was finished it felt like whiplash more than the explosive ending I think was intended. Overall, I found this book to be really interesting in terms of drawing similarities to today, and learning more about life in those times. It was immersive, and felt like I was in the room with them, heightened by the audiobook in which I really enjoyed the accents and overall performance. The atmosphere was bleak and suffocating but broken up with moments of hope and human compassion. While it wasn't what I was looking for, I am certain that many people will enjoy this one more than I did. Thank you to Hachette Audio and Libro.fm for this ALCRelease Date: 21 July 2020
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  • Mackenzi
    January 1, 1970
    Was not prepared to be emotionally ravaged by this book. Gonna go cry now. Very not okay.
  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    January 1, 1970
    Popping in here with my most common note on reviews: THIS BOOK HAS QUEER REP! Sexuality isn't a spoiler. In fact, it's almost the only way to market a book to me at this point.
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Little, Brown, and Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Emma Donoghue presents a timely novel in which her main character is Julia Power, a nurse in Ireland during WWI and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Through Julia's eyes, we see the devastation of both events along with the political turmoil that embroils the country. The novel takes place over a period of three days in which Julia and her young volunteer, Birdie Sweeney witness both life and death. It is a compellin Thanks to Little, Brown, and Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Emma Donoghue presents a timely novel in which her main character is Julia Power, a nurse in Ireland during WWI and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Through Julia's eyes, we see the devastation of both events along with the political turmoil that embroils the country. The novel takes place over a period of three days in which Julia and her young volunteer, Birdie Sweeney witness both life and death. It is a compelling tale in which the environment surrounding the characters is even more fascinating than the characters themselves. What will stay with me long after this year has passed is how eloquent Donoghue is at showcasing health care workers who continue on even when the odds seem to be against them. As one last point, if I wonder about a character's life after the book is over that is always a good sign that an impression has been made. Goodreads review published 02/07/20Publication Date 21/07/20
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    ARC received in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 starsThe Pull of the Stars is not a book I would normally pick up. It’s been a while since I've read any historical fiction, but I was completely and utterly swept away by this insular, remarkable story about a nurse working during the peak of the Spanish influenza and the women she attends to over the course of a few days.The story itself is set mostly in the very intimate environment of one hospital maternity ward, consisting of three beds. At ARC received in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 starsThe Pull of the Stars is not a book I would normally pick up. It’s been a while since I've read any historical fiction, but I was completely and utterly swept away by this insular, remarkable story about a nurse working during the peak of the Spanish influenza and the women she attends to over the course of a few days.The story itself is set mostly in the very intimate environment of one hospital maternity ward, consisting of three beds. At various points throughout the three days these beds are filled and emptied by the pregnant women who pass though, all under Nurse Julia’s care – alongside volunteer Bridie. There’s life, and death, and at all times the omnipotent presence of influenza and war as these women, all from different walks of life, bond together during this terrible period of history. It’s a very well researched piece of writing, with sprinkles of real life historical events and people scattered throughout. There are references to the ‘old baring better than the young’ with regards to the flu, as well as the inclusion of Dr Lynn – a real female doctor who did a lot of campaigning during and after the outbreak and war for better nutrition, housing and sanitation for her fellow citizens in Ireland. She’s a remarkable woman who I had never heard of before, and I’m incredibly grateful to the author for bringing her to my attention. Within the novel Dr Lynn acts as a guide for Julia, reconfirming her abilities as a nurse and caregiver and giving her the confidence to help her patients within the clinical setting. Bridie, alongside this, brings out the warmer and more compassionate side of Julia. In Bridie she sees someone she could have been had her circumstances been different. A young woman without any medical training, no reading or writing skills, yet she has an innate ability to see right through people and get them to open up about their lives. She opens Julia’s eyes to what many of her patients are going through outside the walls of the hospital. Domestic and emotional abuse, mother and baby houses, rape, child death. All are discussed in relation to the time period and demonstrate just how naïve Julia really is before Bridie steps into her life. The two women are a formidable pairing.I also really loved just how nuanced the writing is here. Donoghue managed to interweave the Spanish influenza, war and women’s roles in society and make it come alive (and more importantly make me care deeply) all within the course of 300 pages. She drip feeds bits of these real details, such as how influenza gets its name in relation to the stars, and manages to intermingle it with her story. The flu is the influence of the stars, as is love. To star crossed lovers. It’s just stunning. I will admit that at times I did struggle with the writing style. It’s a definite acquired taste, with no speech marks (in my addition, which was a proof copy so don’t hold me to this) often making it difficult to decipher who was talking. However, I soon got used to it as the pacing is so rapid and the story so investing. I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if you’re at all squeamish about body and medical interventions. This put me off having any more children for life.A beautiful story that went in a direction I wasn’t expecting but utterly fell for. A singular moment in time, perfectly captured and explored. I feel the need to read more from Donoghue, as she’s a formidable talent if any of her other historical fiction work is also like this.TW: (view spoiler)[death of a child, rape and incest (alluded), intense body/medical gore, childbirth, child disability, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, discussions of death, pandemic (hide spoiler)]
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    For every man who thinks childbirth is easy and women go out out in the fields and drop babies like nothing and go right back to work, this should be required reading. By God, what these women went through in the early 1900's in Dublin would make you never want a second one let alone a twelfth. I almost literally threw up. This lovely written book connects on a number of levels. It is written about the big flu epidemic in 1918 but could have easily taken place today in the Corona Virus outbreak. For every man who thinks childbirth is easy and women go out out in the fields and drop babies like nothing and go right back to work, this should be required reading. By God, what these women went through in the early 1900's in Dublin would make you never want a second one let alone a twelfth. I almost literally threw up. This lovely written book connects on a number of levels. It is written about the big flu epidemic in 1918 but could have easily taken place today in the Corona Virus outbreak. In fact much of the advice given for prevention is the same- wash your hands, avoid people, wait for it to pass. The hospital is short staffed because so many have died or sick. Young nurse, Julia Power, is thrown into running a ward of expectant mothers who have the flu single handily. She is given the help of a young girl from the convent with absolutely no experience, Birdie, to help her. So the story deals with the expectant mothers and the flu and then more layers are added. Power has a young brother, Tim, badly mentally damaged from the war. There is also the layer of the Irish having definite opinions about fighting for their oppressors, the English, and division in the country over this. Added to this is Dr. Kathleen Lynn working in desperate situations at the hospital badly in need of doctors, even female ones. The problem is the Dublin police are trying to arrest her as she was a major player in the Sinn Fein. She is a real person. Birdie is a ward of the Catholic Church and I used to be angry at the men of the Church but it turns out the nuns were no picnic either. How did people get so mean and awful to the people they are supposed to be taking care of? Birdie's story brought tears to my eyes so many times. It's so hard to imagine a 8 year old child hung from her hair bun on a coat rack for the great sin of having red hair? This is the tip of the iceberg. This was far from an easy story to read. It broke my heart in so many ways but it is so lovingly written and so important. We can't forget our pasts or we are doomed to repeat them. Oh wait, we are. It is so sad that we progressed so little. A thought provoking book that will haunt you for days to come. Thanks to Net Galley for a Copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Bam cooks the books ;-)
    January 1, 1970
    Has our current pandemic made you curious about the great flu pandemic of 1918? I know I have kicked myself for never thinking to ask my grandmother what it was like for her and her family during those times, especially after realizing she was pregnant with my mother in the fall of 1918, giving birth the following spring. How frightening those times must have been! Emma Donoghue says she was inspired by the centenary of the great flu pandemic of 1918 to begin writing this book in October, 2018, Has our current pandemic made you curious about the great flu pandemic of 1918? I know I have kicked myself for never thinking to ask my grandmother what it was like for her and her family during those times, especially after realizing she was pregnant with my mother in the fall of 1918, giving birth the following spring. How frightening those times must have been! Emma Donoghue says she was inspired by the centenary of the great flu pandemic of 1918 to begin writing this book in October, 2018, delivering the last draft of the book to her publisher in March of this year. What timing! Her book is set in Dublin, Ireland, and is told through the eyes of 30-year-old unmarried nurse Julia Powers who is working in one of the many Catholic hospitals in the area. Most of the action of the story takes place in the Maternity/Fever ward where pregnant mothers are being sent when they are showing signs of the flu--usually fever and coughs. The 'ward' is little more than a large closet that has been converted to hold three cots for patients. The hospital is short-staffed and Nurse Powers is working her shift alone until a young volunteer named Bridie shows up to be her 'runner.' Through talking to her in free moments, Julia begins to learn how young women are treated in church-run homes for orphans, where Bridie has been living. Julia struggles to keep her patients comfortable with the few supplies she has, then helps them deliver their premature babies when the inevitable labor begins. Oh why can't there be a doctor present in those desperate moments! But unfortunately doctors are few and stretched thin throughout the hospital. Don't forget, WWI is going on at this same time and many have been sent to the battlefields. The hospital is making do with older, retired doctors and even a woman who is a known political agitator (based on the real life Dr Kathleen Lynn). Those doctors they do have available dash in and out, sometimes giving Julia a free hand to do what she thinks is necessary. It's touch and go with many of these women as Julia watches them struggle through difficult labor to deliver their babies. Those very ill with the virus show the impact of lack of oxygen on their skin as it turns from red to brown to blue to black as death from cyanosis sets in. Julia keeps a sad record of patients she loses, the mother or her baby, by marking scratches on her pocket watch. This story highlights how poorly women were treated just 100 years ago. No one liked to interfere between a husband and wife. Even if it was obvious the man was mistreating her, it was deemed his prerogative. Catholic woman were expected to give their husbands 12 children, though many died in the process. (When we were in Montreal last year, we were told early settler women were told by their parish priests that it was their duty to the church to get pregnant every year!)Julia learns one patient is an unwed mother and Bridie confides that the nuns run homes for those women as well. They are expected to stay and work off their debt after their baby is born, sometimes for a year or more, like indentured servants. If one dies while living there, she is simply dumped in a hole, buried in an unmarked grave. Joni Mitchell's song, The Magdalene Laundries, ran through my head while I was reading this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATaFy...Julia's home life is interesting too: she lives with her younger brother who has returned from the war unscathed physically but is unable or unwilling to speak. How will he react to a decision she makes at the end of the story?As to who has it tougher, men or women, Julia makes a point of reminding one of the annoying male orderlies that women are also like soldiers, laying down their lives to bring the next generation into the world, so many of them dying in the process. The similarities and parallels between our two flu pandemics is quite astonishing--as is all the misinformation that some people still believe. This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction, so timely in its significance to our own times. By the way, Donoghue mentions in her afterward that "the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people than the First World War--an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the human race." That doesn't bode well for for the results of our current pandemic, especially as we watch the numbers rise again this summer. Has nothing much been learned? Wash your hands, wear a mask and practice social distancing.I must mention the significance of the title, which I loved! "In Italy, they used to blame the influence of the constellations for making them sick. 'Influenza delle stelle--the influence of the stars.' They believed that the heavens were governing their fates, that people were quite literally star-crossed." So interesting! Another interesting piece of information: When babies are born facing upward, they are called 'stargazers.' Looking towards the sky. I received an arc of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks for the introduction to Emma Donoghue's writing.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Having read the galley for Emma Donoghue's last novel The Wonder, I put in a request for The Pull of the Stars before even reading the synopsis. I was not disappointed.Donoghue revisits some of the same themes in this novel--an unmarried female nurse embracing scientific methods, women's lives in a repressive society, what we will do for family and love.Set in 1918 in the middle of the Spanish Flu epidemic, in a Dublin maternity ward where an endless round of pregnant women ill with the flu come Having read the galley for Emma Donoghue's last novel The Wonder, I put in a request for The Pull of the Stars before even reading the synopsis. I was not disappointed.Donoghue revisits some of the same themes in this novel--an unmarried female nurse embracing scientific methods, women's lives in a repressive society, what we will do for family and love.Set in 1918 in the middle of the Spanish Flu epidemic, in a Dublin maternity ward where an endless round of pregnant women ill with the flu come and go, the novel is a spine-tingling reminder of our vulnerability.Donoghue began writing The Pull of the Stars in 2018. How chillingly providential that it would be published the year of the novel cornoavirus covid-19 epidemic.Today as I write this review, violence and protests have been breaking out across America, demanding a just society. Donoghue's novel depicts a world crushed by WWI, men broken in body and spirit like ghosts of the people they had once been. Unwed mothers are taken in by organizations that demand repayment through a kind of slave labor, their babies becoming trapped in servitude and subject to abuse.The myth of progress is challenged by reminders of how little has changed in 100 years. War still crushes, the human body still is attacked by enemies large and small, society remains inequitable, ingrained social prejudices destroy lives.Nurse Julia Powers is dedicated and hard-working, although underpaid and lacking authority. Readers spend several days with Julia at work, the action taking place in a small hospital room of three hospital cots.This is not a novel for the squeamish. So many things go wrong. In graphic detail, readers endure the female patient’s suffering, the heroic endeavor to save the lives of mother and babies. We learn about their lives, their illness, their deaths.Every loss is marked by Julia on her silver cased watch, a memorial and reminder to never forget.This is not a novel to escape, the world too closely reflects what we are dealing with with today's pandemic. Warnings, fake cures, the uncertainty, government endeavoring to play down the threat--nothing has changed.I finished the novel in two days.I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    If you don't know who Emma Donoghue is, you must be living under a rock. Her 2010 release, Room, not only is a literary masterpiece, but the movie is also riveting. When I heard she was coming out with a new book, I wanted to read and review it immediately. The Pull of the Stars is coming out at such a pivotal time in our lives. This book takes place in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. The story focuses directly on a maternity ward in Ireland, with Julia Power working in an over capacit If you don't know who Emma Donoghue is, you must be living under a rock. Her 2010 release, Room, not only is a literary masterpiece, but the movie is also riveting. When I heard she was coming out with a new book, I wanted to read and review it immediately. The Pull of the Stars is coming out at such a pivotal time in our lives. This book takes place in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. The story focuses directly on a maternity ward in Ireland, with Julia Power working in an over capacity hospital. Julia not only is bringing life into this world as one of the nurses in the ward, but she is also dealing with the pandemic of the flu ravaging throughout Ireland. While Julia is working at the ward, she meets two other women who help Julia on her mission to help others. The Pull of the Stars is very profound and timely right now, given our current COVID-19 pandemic. It's hard to not see the similarities between the two timelines of 1918 and 2020, so for that aspect of the book, it was thoroughly gripping. I alternated between the audiobook and physical copy, which helped me move along nicely with this book. Although this book does tug at your heart strings, I felt the narrative feel slightly too slow for my liking. Overall, this book is a slow burning period piece drama so if you're up for read that will take you awhile to digest, this book is up for the challenge.
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  • Linden
    January 1, 1970
    It's 1918, and Julia is a nurse in Dublin. She lives with her brother Tim, a war veteran who has returned a very different man. The Great War is raging, and the flu pandemic is overloading the medical staff. Her ward is maternity patients who also have flu symptoms, and they are so short staffed that she finds herself the only one on duty. When she asks for help, Bridie appears, a volunteer who by all appearances is poor and uneducated. Bridie turns out to be a godsend, helpful and eager to lear It's 1918, and Julia is a nurse in Dublin. She lives with her brother Tim, a war veteran who has returned a very different man. The Great War is raging, and the flu pandemic is overloading the medical staff. Her ward is maternity patients who also have flu symptoms, and they are so short staffed that she finds herself the only one on duty. When she asks for help, Bridie appears, a volunteer who by all appearances is poor and uneducated. Bridie turns out to be a godsend, helpful and eager to learn. It becomes clear that this is not an easy time, what with the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, and the treatment of women, but Emma Donoghue has created a strong and compassionate character Julia. Donoghue is one of my favorite writers, but this timely novel should appeal to both readers of historical fiction and fans of the PBS series Call the Midwife. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for this ARC.
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  • SueLucie
    January 1, 1970
    That’s what influenza means: influenza delle stelle - the influence of the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved the sky must be governing their fates, that they were quite literally star-crossed. I pictured that: the heavenly bodies trying to fly us like upsidedown kites. Or perhaps just yanking on us for their obscure amusement.I’ve read a few books lately that feature characters based on real people and that always adds to my enjoyment, researching their lives, putting them into That’s what influenza means: influenza delle stelle - the influence of the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved the sky must be governing their fates, that they were quite literally star-crossed. I pictured that: the heavenly bodies trying to fly us like upsidedown kites. Or perhaps just yanking on us for their obscure amusement.I’ve read a few books lately that feature characters based on real people and that always adds to my enjoyment, researching their lives, putting them into context in history. In this case, Doctor Kathleen Lynn was a fascinating person and I liked her inclusion in this story. A timely story, too, set in Ireland in the throes of the 1918 flu epidemic, over just three days in a maternity ward for expectant mothers who have the virus. Some graphic scenes of childbirth going well and going badly. Heart-breaking back stories for some of the patients highlight how far we have moved on since those days. Great writing, as you’d expect from Emma Donoghue. Not for the queasy reader, I’d recommend it for its social relevance rather than any plot or character development.I pictured trams grinding their lines across Dublin like blood through veins. We all live in an unwalled city, that was it. Lines scored right through Ireland; carved all over the world. Train tracks, roads, shipping channels, a web that connected all nations into one great suffering body.With thanks to Pan Macmillan, Picador via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Marsha
    January 1, 1970
    This is a brilliant, timely and unputdownable novel set during the 1918 flu pandemic in a poor Dublin hospital during the days leading up to the Armistice, Julia is a nurse whose job it is to look after women with the flu who are just about to give birth. In case you don't know, the Spanish Flu was most lethal for pregnant women. In her tiny ward with just three beds, Julia tries valiantly to save her patients and their babies. She's helped by Bridie, a new volunteer, and Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a re This is a brilliant, timely and unputdownable novel set during the 1918 flu pandemic in a poor Dublin hospital during the days leading up to the Armistice, Julia is a nurse whose job it is to look after women with the flu who are just about to give birth. In case you don't know, the Spanish Flu was most lethal for pregnant women. In her tiny ward with just three beds, Julia tries valiantly to save her patients and their babies. She's helped by Bridie, a new volunteer, and Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a rebel on the run from the police.This is an intense and immersive read, not only because of Donoghue's vividly precise research, characters and story but also because this is oh so relevant to what we're all going through right now with the current pandemic.As I closed this book I swallowed back tears but was also left with a feeling of hope. A stunningly good book that should be read by everyone.
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars is one of those books that snuck up on me. Until about 20% of the way in I was thinking, "This is good. Not great, but good enough." Then, just a few pages beyond that point the book grabbed me and didn't let go. I read. And read and read and read. I read much later into the night than I should have, but I finally started to drop off—so I got up early the next morning to finish the book before I did anything else.The three central female characters in The Pu Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars is one of those books that snuck up on me. Until about 20% of the way in I was thinking, "This is good. Not great, but good enough." Then, just a few pages beyond that point the book grabbed me and didn't let go. I read. And read and read and read. I read much later into the night than I should have, but I finally started to drop off—so I got up early the next morning to finish the book before I did anything else.The three central female characters in The Pull of the Stars are each compelling in her own way, and sharing their growing closeness gave me a fierce sense of loyalty to them. The mothers on the influenza ward are also an interesting mix of ages and attitudes. Many of the characters beyond these are rather two-dimensional, but the core trio easily carry the narrative.We are living now in our own pandemic, though one not yet as destructive as the 1918 influenza, and The Pull of the Stars gives us an interesting perspective through which to view our own time. Yes, things could definitely be worse. Yes, people clutch at all sort of straws as they convince themselves they won't fall ill or desperately try questionable cures. Read The Pull of the Stars for its own sake and to come to a richer understanding of the present day.I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions are my own.
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  • Story❤
    January 1, 1970
    Stores empty. Concerts cancelled. Libraries closed. Hospitals full. People recoiling in horror at the sounds of their neighbour's cough...no, it's not Pandemic 2020 but Pandemic 1918 that is the setting of Emma Donahue's latest story. And what a gripping story it is, one of a young nurse left to cope with a small ward of flu-stricken women all on the verge of giving birth. I read it in one sitting, completely engaged and not wanting to leave the world the author creates. I loved the dark broodin Stores empty. Concerts cancelled. Libraries closed. Hospitals full. People recoiling in horror at the sounds of their neighbour's cough...no, it's not Pandemic 2020 but Pandemic 1918 that is the setting of Emma Donahue's latest story. And what a gripping story it is, one of a young nurse left to cope with a small ward of flu-stricken women all on the verge of giving birth. I read it in one sitting, completely engaged and not wanting to leave the world the author creates. I loved the dark brooding, war-scarred setting of the novel and the intense relationships that develop between its well-drawn characters: nurse Julia, her untutored but clever helper Bridey, the rebel woman-doctor, and the rotating cast of mothers, babies and terrifying Sisters who inhabit the dark world of the maternity ward. Though the book sometimes wears its research a little heavily, it was very interesting to learn about the parallels and differences between pandemics then and now. Donahue's novels are sometimes a bit hit and miss with me but I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves historical fiction or just a story well-told. 4.5 stars.
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  • Andreas
    January 1, 1970
    Talk about timing! ‘The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue is set in Dublin against the backdrop of the outbreak of the flu pandemic in 1918. Reading this during the Covid19 crisis some of the references have become (very unfortunately) familiar, such as the government warning people to avoid public spaces. The main character, Julia Power, is a nurse in a maternity ward. We follow her as she cares for the expectant mothers on her ward over three days. There is a documentary feel about he novel Talk about timing! ‘The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue is set in Dublin against the backdrop of the outbreak of the flu pandemic in 1918. Reading this during the Covid19 crisis some of the references have become (very unfortunately) familiar, such as the government warning people to avoid public spaces. The main character, Julia Power, is a nurse in a maternity ward. We follow her as she cares for the expectant mothers on her ward over three days. There is a documentary feel about he novel and the author has clearly tried ensure that medical details are accurate. In fact, a large part of the novel is taken up describing medical procedures. Setting the novel in the maternity ward serves to highlight the ongoing battle between life and death, both inside and outside the ward. The novel conveys the very grim reality of life during the epidemic. The novel felt quite short and the ending feels rushed and forced. There is not enough detail about Julia’s brother who has returned from the war or Doctor Kathleen Lynn. I also felt that the portrayal of Julia lacked depth. This would have worked a lot better for me as a longer novel or as the first part of a series. Overall this was about 2.5 stars for me, rounded up to 3.With thanks to the publisher for the digital arc via Netgalley.
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  • Pan Macmillan Australia
    January 1, 1970
    Julia is a 30-year-old Irish nurse dealing with pregnant mothers who have ‘the grip’, or what we know as the Spanish Flu, in a world struggling with the last days of WWI, and a population also is torn between the fight between Protestants and Catholics. She is unmarried and lives with her gentle brother who has returned from the war emotionally damaged and mute with the horrors he has seen. With her at the hospital is a young volunteer from the local home for young girls run by nuns, and a femal Julia is a 30-year-old Irish nurse dealing with pregnant mothers who have ‘the grip’, or what we know as the Spanish Flu, in a world struggling with the last days of WWI, and a population also is torn between the fight between Protestants and Catholics. She is unmarried and lives with her gentle brother who has returned from the war emotionally damaged and mute with the horrors he has seen. With her at the hospital is a young volunteer from the local home for young girls run by nuns, and a female doctor who is trying to keep one step in front of the authorities for being a member of the radical Sinn Fein. The book is set over only 3 days, but in that time the amount of history and horrible conditions of the time packed into only 300 pages is phenomenal and just brilliantly done. I was drawn totally into these peoples’ lives. Both the nurse and volunteer are fictional characters, but the rebel doctor is based on a real person, Dr Kathleen Lynn (1874 – 1955) and I was so taken with her story I had to actually Google her and read more fully about her.Emma Donoghue started writing this book during 2018, the 100th anniversary of The Spanish Flu. Little did she know that the world was about to have its own pandemic 2 years later just after she handed in her manuscript. I found it very eerie to read many of the parallels of the world we are living in now. This is a nod to all the nurses, doctors, suffragettes, soldiers, women and men of the world with their own troubles who help others no matter the cost to themselves. This is a brilliant, moving and totally absorbing story, perfect for all types of readers and especially those who love their history as well as for all those who loved the Call the Midwives TV series, though with more gore and reality. I cannot recommend it highly enough! - Leanne
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  • Ari Levine
    January 1, 1970
    Emma Donoghue's best novel since Room, which I realize might sound like faint praise, after the misfires of Akin and Frog Music. Unambiguously, this was one of the most moving and involving reading experiences I've had this year. Donoghue started writing this in 2018, and finished it just as the Covid-19 lockdown began, so this might be a perfect page-turner for our own plague year.We spend two intense, exhausting days in a Dublin hospital during the influenza epidemic of November 1918 with Juli Emma Donoghue's best novel since Room, which I realize might sound like faint praise, after the misfires of Akin and Frog Music. Unambiguously, this was one of the most moving and involving reading experiences I've had this year. Donoghue started writing this in 2018, and finished it just as the Covid-19 lockdown began, so this might be a perfect page-turner for our own plague year.We spend two intense, exhausting days in a Dublin hospital during the influenza epidemic of November 1918 with Julia Power, an unmarried nurse midwife in a maternity ward for influenza patients. Donoghue ratchets up the claustrophobic tension as Julia and Bridie, a young volunteer, do their utmost to save the lives of the revolving cast of women who occupy the ward's three beds, as they face one high-risk delivery after another. With compassion and a great deal of historical research into obstetrics, influenza, and the horrors of the Church's industrial homes for orphans and unmarried mothers, she exposes us to the many facets of Catholic Ireland's cruel and callous indifference towards the suffering of girls and women. Julia and Bridie aren't released from the ward's confines until the final pages, when a brutal emotional punch lands (seemingly) out of nowhere.Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown for giving me a chance to read an ARC of this in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Natalie Rampling
    January 1, 1970
    After loving Room, I was so excited to receive the ARC for this novel.While the relevance and the poignancy was so clear in reading this, I felt like the plot could have been quicker to keep me more interested. Strong characters, but I thought it needed a faster pace for me.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    This exquisite novel is the story of 3 women working in a maternity ward in Dublin during the height of the 1918 Great Flu. In three days you will meet nurse Julia Powell, a lonely single woman, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a political activist/fireband wanted by the police and Bridie, a young orphan. What takes place during these three days will change all of their lives; these women will work tirelessly during a pandemic, risk their lives and even find the type of love that they never knew that they lon This exquisite novel is the story of 3 women working in a maternity ward in Dublin during the height of the 1918 Great Flu. In three days you will meet nurse Julia Powell, a lonely single woman, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a political activist/fireband wanted by the police and Bridie, a young orphan. What takes place during these three days will change all of their lives; these women will work tirelessly during a pandemic, risk their lives and even find the type of love that they never knew that they longed for. This is a remarkable work of historical fiction and it must be remembered that the author began writing this way in advance of Covid19. This is Emma Donogue's best work since Room.* I read an advance copy and was not compensated
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  • Jillian
    January 1, 1970
    ⁣First, thanks to Libro.fm for your awesome selection of advanced listening copies every month! We listened to this on our road trip. ⁣⁣I’ve been a fan of Emma Donoghue’s⁣books since I read The wonder so when I saw she had a new one that takes place during the 1918 flu pandemic I figured it would be a good one. ⁣⁣Nurse Julia Power is working alone on a maternity ward for patients who also have the great flu. A young girl named Bridie Sweeney is sent to work with her on the ward although she has ⁣First, thanks to Libro.fm for your awesome selection of advanced listening copies every month! We listened to this on our road trip. ⁣⁣I’ve been a fan of Emma Donoghue’s⁣books since I read The wonder so when I saw she had a new one that takes place during the 1918 flu pandemic I figured it would be a good one. ⁣⁣Nurse Julia Power is working alone on a maternity ward for patients who also have the great flu. A young girl named Bridie Sweeney is sent to work with her on the ward although she has no medical expertise. Over the course of 3 days, the women work together to help bring life into the world and deal with deaths. ⁣⁣This book is a bit intense with the descriptions of the births and the problems, as well as people dying from the flu. I’m a bit squeamish so we would need to stop it from time to time to regroup. Maybe not the best road trip book 😂 but I did enjoy the story and there was a lot of action. This was well researched and detailed and if you like medical descriptions it may be perfect. Also the author wrote this right as we are dealing with a global pandemic so it’s a bit fitting for these times (although def old remedies!) ⁣⁣Overall I really enjoyed this one! Another good one from Emma Donoghue. ⁣⁣#bookstababesx3 #bookishladiesclub #emmadonoghue #librofm #bookstagram #pullofthestars
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  • Escape into a Booksite
    January 1, 1970
    *DNF* Copy kindly received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I tried to read this but it just wasn't my writing style so I put it down. The synopsis sounds good though, so I hope others will enjoy this. Just not for me.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    A NEW EMMA DONOGHUE NOVEL!!!!!!! A NEW EMMA DONOGHUE NOVEL!!!!!!!
  • DublinSue
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Pan Macmillan and Emma Donoghue for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.No doubt this book was underway long before any of us had heard of Covid-19 but wow, what remarkable timing. Set in Dublin during the Great Flu of 1918, it tells the story of Nurse Julia Power, working flat out in an understaffed maternity ward, and the cast of characters she interacts with during that time.While of course much has changed in the intervening 102 years, there are some really strikin Thanks to Pan Macmillan and Emma Donoghue for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.No doubt this book was underway long before any of us had heard of Covid-19 but wow, what remarkable timing. Set in Dublin during the Great Flu of 1918, it tells the story of Nurse Julia Power, working flat out in an understaffed maternity ward, and the cast of characters she interacts with during that time.While of course much has changed in the intervening 102 years, there are some really striking echoes with our current crisis. The insufficient supplies and the issues with sanitation and hygiene. Closure of schools and public spaces. Most of all the exhausted and overworked front line medical staff and volunteers risking their own lives to tend to the ill and dying, and the care and compassion with which they carry out this horrendously difficult work. The book delves into many of the other social issues that Ireland faced at that time and in the years to follow. The power and oppression of the Catholic Church. The so called “Mother and baby homes” and other state run institutions, the true horrors of which have only been fully aired in recent years. Barbaric medical practices such as symphysiotomy. The aftermath of the First World War and the continuing Irish struggle for independence.These are important parts of our social history in Ireland and are dealt with in a well researched and sensitive way, however I felt at times that the characters and plot got sidelined in places by author’s desire to highlight these and other social and cultural issues. There was a sense that the events portrayed and choices made by the characters were constructed in a particular way so as to allow certain issues to be aired, which I felt sometimes got in the way of the natural flow of the story. I personally would have liked a little more character and plot development for its own sake - I never really got lost in the story itself or felt strongly for a particular character or relationship.Having said that I do recommend the book and it’s certainly a very timely read.
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