Last week I learned something: don't write a book review before you have finished reading the book. I did that last week, and later that Friday evening I finished the book and was able to write a much better review. One doesn't feel the whole impact of a book without reading the entire thing! Here is my review, re-written and much more complete, after finishing the book, The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally.
Two Australian nurses, sisters, both sign on to serve as nurses in World War I. They are sent by ship to Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, then to Greece, then to the Western Front in France. Working together at first, they later receive separate assignments.
As the story develops, the sisters learn to love each other in a much closer, sisterly way than they had before. They are very close as the book draws to a close. They each, of course, witness some gruesome and awful things happening to soldiers as well as to doctors and nurses with whom they work. The physical and mental wounds are horrendous, as they are in any war. The medical field is only then starting to notice what they call Shell Shock and we call PTSD. It's a reminder of the long-term effects and terrible legacy of war.
The sisters' parallel lives and "smallest membrane between alternate histories" (p.505) becomes important as the reader contemplates what really happens in the end. This book sneaks up on the reader and makes itself felt without ever being preachy or loud... very well-told and a solid read with some things to ponder about war in general and about WWI in particular.
Here's a 2nd review. It doesn't get top billing, because the book was not very good.
The Quarry by Iain Banks
Characters I didn't like have a reunion and talk in full-of-themselves ways about memories. I felt like I was listening to inside jokes only half told by drunks. Boring. Not much happens. They are looking for a lost video tape. One guy is dying of cancer. The one semi-interesting person is the narrator who is autistic. At least he has some real character. The others are unlikeable.
Don't waste your time on this one.