The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
What’s it about?
This work of historical fiction takes place in Dublin during the flu epidemic of 1918. Julia Power is a nurse, working in an overcrowded and understaffed maternity ward in the city center. As the story begins Julia arrives to work and is told to take charge of a new room. The room has been converted to house maternity patients that arrive with influenza. For the next three days she will work tirelessly in this small room with both patients and two extraordinary women. Dr. Lynn is the first female doctor that Julia has ever seen and Bridie Sweeney is a volunteer. Both women will open Julia's eyes to a Dublin she was unaware of.
What did it make me think about?
Irish history. Caregivers.
Should I read it?
Any fan of historical fiction will enjoy this novel. I particularly enjoyed the characters Emma Donoghue created in this book. The novel reminded me in ways of The Wonder or Slammerkin (both earlier works in the same genre by Emma Donoghue). The fact that the story takes place during the last flu epidemic serves as a reminder that we have been this way before. It highlighted the similarities we face, despite all the progress made in the last 100 years. Maybe most importantly it reminded us of the importance and heroism of so many caregivers. What must it feel like to write a book and at its conclusion have this eery pandemic arrive and shed a new light on your story....
"It felt colder inside the hospital than out these days; lamps were kept turned down and coal fires meagerly fed. Every week, more grippe cases were carried into our wards, more cots jammed in. The hospital's atmosphere of scrupulous order- which had survived four years of wartime disruption and shortages and even the Rising's six days of gunfire and chaos- was finally crumbling under this burden. Staff who fells ick disappeared like pawns from a chessboard. The rest of us made do, worked harder, faster, pulled more than our weight- but it wasn't enough. This flu was clogging the whole works of the hospital."
If you liked this try-
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Saints For All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
8 1/2 stars
favorites from 2020 winter,spring, summer
some favorites of the last decade
best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!