The Daughters Of Mars
by Tom Keneally
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In the tradition of Atonement and Birdsong, the Durance sisters leave Australia to nurse on the front during WWI and discover a world beyond their imaginings. Naomi and Sally Durance are daughters of a dairy farmer from the Macleay Valley. Bound together in complicity by what they consider a crime, when the Great War begins in 1914 they hope to submerge their guilt by leaving for Europe to nurse the tides of young wounded. They head for the Dardanelles on the hospital ship Archimedes. Their education in medicine, valour and human degradation continues on the Greek island of Lemnos, then on the Western Front. Here, new outrages - gas, shell-shock - present themselves. Naomi encounters the wonderful, eccentric Lady Tarlton, who is founding a voluntary hospital near Boulogne; Sally serves in a casualty clearing station close to the front. They meet the men with whom they would wish to spend the rest of their lives. Inspired by the journals of Australian nurses who gave their all to the Great War effort and the men they nursed. The Daughters of Mars is vast in scope yet extraordinarily intimate. A stunning tour de force to join the best First World War literature, and one that casts a penetrating light on the lives of obscure but strong women caught in the great mill of history.
- Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- Publication Date:
- Vintage (australia)
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Average Rating by customers
Read customer reviews on The Daughters Of Mars
Engaging WWI Fiction
05/03/2013Nursing sisters, Naomi and Sally, keen to not only to escape the monotony of the rural life but also a complicated family situation, enlist to serve in WWI.
They find themselves in situations both horrifying and seemingly hopeless, however both of them make significant contributions, not only professionally but also in the relationships they form during their service.
It is fictional, but having been inspired by the journals of women who were nurses during the Great War, it reads more like an historical account.
The use of medical terminology and practice is prevalent, but it in no way hinders the story. The Daughters of Mars is all the more engaging because of its insight into the difficulties and different situations that would have been encountered during this time, whether it be in a voluntary hospital the likes of which Naomi finds herself working or closer to the front line where Sally chooses to assist.