THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS by Thomas Keneally
I had a hard time getting used to the lack of commas and quotation marks in this tale of two sisters who nurse for Australia during World War I. Although slow and quite lengthy, the book held my interest with details of nursing under primitive conditions during war conditions. The most interesting parts for me were the descriptions of life aboard ship on the journey to Egypt from Australia and then in the war zone of Gallipoli. The horror of war was clearly indicated in the details of battle injuries and the care available both in the Dardanelles and later in France. The tragedy of the influenza epidemic of 1919 makes up the later part of the book.
The sisters, their nurse companions and the soldiers they work with and fall in love with comprise the characters in the novel.
Book groups will find many topics to discuss including class distinctions, city versus farm life, Quakers and war, biologic weaponry, courage under great duress, disfiguration and disability, and the roles of women.