Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Schindler's List
comes the epic, unforgettable story of two sisters whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the First World War.
In 1915, Naomi and Sally Durance, two spirited Australian sisters, join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Though they are used to tending the sick, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first on a hospital ship near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.
Yet amid the carnage, the sisters become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger and also the hostility from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their newfound independence — if only they all survive.
At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I vividly to life from an uncommon perspective. Thomas Keneally has written a remarkable novel about suffering and transcendence, despair and triumph, and the simple acts of decency that make us human even in a world gone mad.
"The horrific butcher's bill of WWI trench fighting, which took a toll not only on the wounded soldiers but on the doctors and nurses who tended to them, is at the heart of this moving epic novel from the author of Schindler's List. The story is told through the experiences of two sisters, Sally and Naomi Durance, both nurses, who enter the morally complex area of treating the devastatingly injured with peacetime experience. Eight months before the call went out from the Australian government for military nurses, Naomi apparently used some extra morphine that Sally had procured to end their mother's suffering from inoperable cervical cancer. The euthanasia both drew the siblings together in a conspiracy of silence and created a barrier between them. Their duties take them to Egypt and Europe, as they struggle to stay alive, and to stay mentally composed despite the awful situations they must confront. By again using individuals to humanize a larger story, Keneally succeeds in conveying the experience to his readers in a manageable way. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Magnificent...a stunning performance, full of suspense, searing particulars, and deep emotion....The huge talents of Thomas Keneally are everywhere on display."
"May be the best novel of Keneally's career...a book that aims for, and achieves, real grandeur."
The Spectator, One of the Best Books of 2012
"Extraordinarily moving...Keneally is a master of character development and period detail....Fans of Downton Abbey and Gallipoli alike will find much to admire in Keneally's fast-moving, flawlessly written pages."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Superbly exciting to read....An unmissable, unforgettable tribute."
The Times (London)
"Not only is The Daughters of Mars one of the most ambitious novels in a career that stretches back to 1964, but it might even be the best....The result is something few other authors would aim for, let alone achieve: genuine grandeur."
"An epic, sweeping book."
"Greatly detailed...boasts authentic characters set in equally authentic locations."
From the acclaimed author of Schindler's List, the epic, unforgettable story of two sisters from Australia, both trained nurses, whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the first World War.
About the Author
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published twenty-five novels since. They include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates, and Gossip from the Forest, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.