Reviews

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Sally and Naomi Dorrance, grown sisters, aren't particularly close. Personality ­differences nudge them apart. Sally has stayed home on the family's farm in New South Wales and practices nursing close to home, while Naomi has fled to Sydney to nurse in wider, deeper waters. When their mother is verging on death, Naomi returns home, and the sisters perform an act that binds them in a peculiar way, as they now have to carry a guilty secret between them. Their world is opened drastically as they volunteer as nurses during WWI and are loaded onto a hospital ship treating Australian soldiers who have been wounded in the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Their ship is torpedoed off the Greek islands, and the sisters' survival of a sinking ship is perhaps the most compelling and longest scene in this lengthy novel, the latest from the author of many distinguished historical novels, including Schindler's List (1982). The sisters end up nursing on the western front, and, in the end, it is their nursing experiences, their having to face countless horrors of loss of life and limb, that become the true meaning of their sisterly bond. Greatly detailed, alternately fast moving and slow, this story boasts authentic characters set in equally authentic locations. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Active advertising and scheduling of the author for interviews make up a portion of the publisher's large publicity campaign for this book.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In this latest from Booker Prize-winning author Keneally (Schindler's List), Australian sisters Naomi and Sally Durance volunteer as nurses at the beginning of World War I. Initially posted to a medical ship off the coast of Greece, they survive a shipwreck and are eventually transferred to the European front in France, Sally to a clearing station and Naomi to a hospital established by an eccentric viscountess. Though the sisters' viewpoints are seemingly limited, their service is a testament to the scope of war, as the number and nature of casualties they treat range from shrapnel and bayonet wounds to gassing, trench foot, shell shock, and finally the Spanish flu. Along the way we meet an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, including the resolute Matron Mitchie, returning to the front with a prosthetic leg, and Quaker Ian Kiernan, who volunteers for medical service but refuses a transfer to combat. VERDICT Keneally must have done copious research, but historical details and information about wartime medical treatment are presented organically, without the weight of historical retrospection. His ambiguous ending helps the reader bear the unbearable. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/13.]-Christine -DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The horrific butcher's bill of WWI trench fighting, which took a toll not only on the wounded soldiers but on the doctors and nurses who tended to them, is at the heart of this moving epic novel from the author of Schindler's List. The story is told through the experiences of two sisters, Sally and Naomi Durance, both nurses, who enter the morally complex area of treating the devastatingly injured with peacetime experience. Eight months before the call went out from the Australian government for military nurses, Naomi apparently used some extra morphine that Sally had procured to end their mother's suffering from inoperable cervical cancer. The euthanasia both drew the siblings together in a conspiracy of silence and created a barrier between them. Their duties take them to Egypt and Europe, as they struggle to stay alive, and to stay mentally composed despite the awful situations they must confront. By again using individuals to humanize a larger story, Keneally succeeds in conveying the experience to his readers in a manageable way. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Aug. 10) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Sally and Naomi Dorrance, grown sisters, aren't particularly close. Personality ­differences nudge them apart. Sally has stayed home on the family's farm in New South Wales and practices nursing close to home, while Naomi has fled to Sydney to nurse in wider, deeper waters. When their mother is verging on death, Naomi returns home, and the sisters perform an act that binds them in a peculiar way, as they now have to carry a guilty secret between them. Their world is opened drastically as they volunteer as nurses during WWI and are loaded onto a hospital ship treating Australian soldiers who have been wounded in the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Their ship is torpedoed off the Greek islands, and the sisters' survival of a sinking ship is perhaps the most compelling and longest scene in this lengthy novel, the latest from the author of many distinguished historical novels, including Schindler's List (1982). The sisters end up nursing on the western front, and, in the end, it is their nursing experiences, their having to face countless horrors of loss of life and limb, that become the true meaning of their sisterly bond. Greatly detailed, alternately fast moving and slow, this story boasts authentic characters set in equally authentic locations. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Active advertising and scheduling of the author for interviews make up a portion of the publisher's large publicity campaign for this book.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist