The Daughters of Mars
By Thomas Keneally
(Atria Books, Hardcover, 9781476734613, 528pp.)
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
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From the acclaimed author of Schindler’s List comes the epic, unforgettable story of two sisters whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the First World War. IN 1915, Naomi and Sally Durance, two spirited Australian sisters, join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Though they are used to tending the sick, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first on a hospital ship near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front. Yet amid the carnage, the sisters become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger and also the hostility from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. 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 newfound independence—if only they all survive. At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I vividly to life from an uncommon perspective. Thomas Keneally has written a remarkable novel about suffering and transcendence, despair and triumph, and the simple acts of decency that make us human even in a world gone mad.
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published twenty-five novels since. They include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates, and Gossip from the Forest, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.
"Magnificent, a stunning performance, full of suspense, searing particulars, and deep emotion. The huge talents of Thomas Keneally are everywhere on display."
"May be the best novel of Keneally's career - a book that aims for, and achieves, real grandeur."
Extraordinarily moving. Keneally is a master of character development and period detail. Fans of Downton Abbey and Gallipoli alike will find much to admire in Keneally?e(TM)s fast-moving, flawlessly written pages."
"Superbly exciting to read... An unmissable, unforgettable tribute."
"Not only is The Daughters of Mars one of the most ambitious novels in a career that stretches back to 1964, but it might even be the best. The result is something few other authors would aim for, let alone achieve: genuine grandeur."
"A big and brutal book, a new prism through which to think about World War I, breathtaking, magnificent and almost magical. There are moments of joy, of pleasure, that make you look up from their page for a while to arrest and savour their sensation."
"Along with a Tolstoyan ability to describe the horrors of battle, this amazing book also has an extraordinary intimacy, especially in the relationship between the sisters...an altogether towering achievement."
"Now, at last and triumphantly, there is a full-scale Keneally novel of the Great War...All of it is handled by Keneally with calm mastery. If epic is no longer a literary category that fits this world, The Daughters of Mars nonetheless has a tragic and humane span that few recent novels have attempted, let alone equalled."
"Greatly detailed... boasts authentic characters set in equally authentic locations."
"An epic, sweeping book."