I am doing something a little bit risqué.. I am writing a book review before I finish the book! I promise if I manage to finish the book by the time this post goes live, I will edit this review, if necessary.
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally... it is about two Australian women - sisters - who sign up to be nurses in Europe during World War I. It takes us through their adventures which are quite harrowing at times. It follows the two sisters who end up having separate assignments.
It's a very interesting book, but it's long (513 pages). It is not a quick read for me. Even though it was published in 2012, the writing is done in a style that seems appropriate to its time setting: the mid 1900s. Though I'm not an expert in writing-styles over time, it just feels "old" to me and slows down my reading. It has taken me a long time to get to my current point, about 100 pages from the end.
Nurses were recruited and then sent by ship to Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, then on to France. They work in a variety of settings, from a hospital well away from the front to a "clearing station" very near the front and the shelling.
Of course their work is messy, difficult, very long, and they encounter some horrendous wounds and scared soldiers. At least by the time WWI happened, the medical field had learned about ether, cleanliness, and some pain management. Surgeries didn't have to be done "live" like they were during our Civil War. It was still a pretty gruesome thing and very messy. After all, it's war.
There are surprises in the story all along.. I don't want to spoil any of them for you, and I certainly can't give you an ending spoiler as I am not there yet! I like the book -- I'd rate it somewhere between a 3 and a 4. It hasn't totally grabbed me like a 5-star book does, but I like the characters, I'm glad I am reading it, and I look forward to seeing how it ends. (This was a book club assignment which I am finishing late. Discussions are online, so I can go on as a latecomer and add my 2 cents worth.)
Wouldn't it be nice if what they thought had turned into reality -- that it was the "war to end all wars?" Try to imagine our world without any wars since 1917. We sure know how to make a mess of things, don't we humans?!
But, hey -- we know how to be creative, too. Look at this -- a library cake! Too cool!