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The Daughters of Mars MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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The author follows a group of young Australian nurses who go to war. The two central characters are sisters, Naomi and Sally Durance. He gets the complicated relationship between them really well. The personalities of their colleagues,their responses and reactions, are painted against the traumas of that conflict. Into the circle are drawn husbands and lovers, friends and enemies, superiors and orderlies.
The main talking points of the First World War are covered - Gallipoli, conscription, the nature of the enemy, death and disfigurement, the futility of it all and finally the Spanish flu. But the novel is not just a check-list. It is very much about this group of women - as women, as nurses and as Australians.
Kenneally made use of letters and diaries and this is clear from the detailed and accurate descriptions of treatments and medicines then in use. He also shows the incompetence of bureaucrats [part of health care everywhere, of course] and the heroism and imagination of pioneering nurses and doctors.
The traumatic set-pieces of the novel are very well written without being overplayed. He brilliantly conveys the fear and tragedy of death on land, sea and air. There is an intriguing conclusion. It is a moving story, well told.
This note on punctuation may well have been better placed at the beginning, rather than at the end of the novel but I would say that the style of the punctuation works perfectly.
The narrative centres arround sibling nurses Sally and Naomi, their relationship with each other and with the numerous supporting cast of characters and their relationship with the war. This is not a short novel but it is certainly not too long with some 35 chapters spread over 520 pages.
The prose, whether the tension of many casualties and deaths from various wounds and illnesses (and not all necessarily physical ones) or the development of characters to become potential lovers or simply the uncertainty of war for those involved - is a delight.
It appears to be very thoroughly researched which is no surprise in a novel from Thomas Keneally.
The Daughters of Mars shows what a dramatic impact the nurses had on the war and how the war impacted on them.
Stunning novel, brilliantly crafted.
And impressive it was indeed, in its handling of the tremendous research and the portraying it through the eyes of Sally and Naomi, in the clarity of the writing and the impetus given to the progress through years.
I am, nevertheless, still processing the ending; but have overcome my initial desire to drop my rating by one star.
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