The Daughters of Mars

Thomas Keneally

The Daughters of Mars

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front. Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humour and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of some remarkable women. And in France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence - if only they all survive. 4.1 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
The Daughters of Mars

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 528
RRP
Date of Publication October 2012
ISBN 978-0340951873
Publisher Sceptre
 

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front. Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humour and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of some remarkable women. And in France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence - if only they all survive.

Reviews

The Daily Express

Jake Kerridge

You might think yet another novel on this conflict would be superfluous, even if it could manage to avoid all the usual clichés, but Keneally’s magic makes his shop-worn subject seem fresh. Ingeniously, he tells the story from an unfamiliar perspective: that of Australian nurses tending the dying.

18/11/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

James Walton

Keneally’s traditional qualities of scrupulous historical research, thumping storytelling and sympathy for the suffering are all there. This time, though, they’re combined with phrasemaking of such powerful resonance that the result is something few other authors would aim for, let alone achieve: genuine grandeur.

01/11/2012

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The Times

Kate Saunders

It is superbly exciting to read; one expects no less from the author of Schindler’s Ark. An unmissable, unforgettable tribute.

27/10/2012

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The Guardian

Jay Parini

We are treated to countless vignettes along the way, as soldiers pour out their woes to the sympathetic ears of nurses who understand that listening is more than half their job. I put down this novel missing these people, especially those who flash before us and fade: simple lives brought to ruin by the ruins of war. Keneally manages to conjure the vast territories – geographical and emotional – covered by the first world war. He does so with a thousand details, which add to the lyrical realism of the novel.

09/11/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

James Urquhart

The Daughters of Mars is a long novel, and one of its triumphs is the relentless description of the war-wounded. Dialogue, incident and character provide plenty of interest, but the persistence of the material accumulates into a sense of the true enormity of nurses' front-line service, in some ways made all the more gruesome for the lack of any first-hand conflict. The offstage battle is tallied in lost limbs, gangrene, shattered skulls or loops of intestine, compounded, once the theatre moves to the Somme, by gas attacks, shell shock and influenza.

11/11/2012

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The Daily Mail

John Harding

As you’d expect, it’s well researched and plotted with a huge cast of strongly drawn characters, but there’s a certain soap-opera saga feel to it that never quite convinces you you’re in another world rather than a book. If you can live with that, it’s an enjoyable, absorbing read, although the choice of alternative endings adds nothing beyond irritation.

01/11/2012

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The Sunday Times

Francesa Angelini

Indeed, that Keneally had to be quite so epic in his aspirations is the book’s downfall. Stripped down to its bones, this is a psychologically convincing tale of two ordinary women’s experience of the thoroughly ­masculine world of war, and a complex exploration of its inescapable effects on them. As it is stands, though, we’re left with a book so overstuffed that it fails to come to life or move the reader.

21/10/2012

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