Naomi and Sally Durance are daughters of a dairy farmer from the Macleay Valley. Bound together in complicity by what they consider a crime, when the Great War begins in 1914 they hope to submerge their guilt by leaving for Europe to nurse the tides of young wounded. They head for the Dardanelles on the hospital ship Archimedes. Their education in medicine, valour, and human degradation continues on the Greek island of Lemnos, then on the Western Front.
Here, new outrages - gas, shell-shock - present themselves. Naomi encounters the wonderful, eccentric Lady Tarlton, who is founding a voluntary hospital near Boulogne; Sally serves in a casualty clearing station close to the front. They meet the men with whom they would wish to spend the rest of their lives.
Inspired by the journals of Australian nurses who gave their all to the Great War effort and the men they nursed, The Daughters of Mars is vast in scope yet extraordinarily intimate. A stunning tour de force to join the best First World War literature, and one that casts a penetrating light on the lives of obscure but strong women caught in the great mill of history.
©2012 The Serpentine Publishing Co. (Pty) (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"No Australian author has written more eloquently or extensively of war than Tom Keneally.... Now, at last and triumphantly, there is a full-scale Keneally novel of the Great War.... All of it is handled by Keneally with calm mastery. If epic is no longer a literary category that fits this world, The Daughters of Mars nonetheless has a tragic and humane span that few recent novels have attempted, let alone equalled." (Canberra Times)
"Keneally, for decades one of Australia's most prominent and exuberant storytellers, has a passion for history that is infectious and irresistible. His new novel tackles - on an epic scale - the role of Australian nurses in World War I.... Keneally's fascination with the roles of ordinary people like these young women play in momentous events gives The Daughters of Mars its terrific energy and freshness." (Adelaide Advertiser)
"The huge talents of Thomas Keneally are everywhere on display." (The Guardian)
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"Interesting WWI novel with an Australian bent"
This is a good novel but not a super-terrific great one for listening. This limitation is not due to problems with the reader, in my view. Instead, I think that some literary novels are better read than heard. Their attractions are subtle-- fine tuning of character development, etc--and are not best appreciated through the ear alone. I am not generalizing about all literary novels (Jennifer Egan's _A Visit From the Goon Squad_ for instance, is a riveting listen), but I think _The Daughters of Mars_ can seem a bit slow. At times I was fully engaged, and at other times my attention wavered. It was not a audiobook that I looked forward to switching on every chance I could.
This was a much more readable Thomas Keneally novel than his first ones. It was a terrific story based on Australian nurses and army involvement in World War 1 who supported British forces. I found it compelling but I would have preferred a definite ending, not a choice of two. Highly recommended.
An exceptional epic take.
The famine perspective was powerfully informative & gave a balance to an often thought male-dominated war.
Since this is the centenary anniversary, there is no shortage of books about the First World War. At first I had concerns about the book, the reviews were great, but it was just a very long book. However, I had a hard time turning off my Ipod. The character development was priceless, the story line kept my attention throughout and the narration was faultless. The ending was sad but considering the subject (participants in WWI) not unexpected - it was a very sad war.
"droned on and on. and i didn't much care."
neither sister was all that worthy of a 19 hour novel. a little too long, a little too detailed. there was a lot going on in this story, and nothing going on in this story.
while it was obviously extremely well researched and quite informative about the war...i found it awfully tedious to read.
"Not for me"
This just wasn't the one for me. I liked the sound of Tom's description of the novel and I did listen to the whole 18+hrs, there was nothing wrong with the story or the narration, it just didn't grip me as wartime stories usually do, sorry Tom.
I frequently listen to audiobooks when unable to sleep, but this book was haunting in such a way that I found myself trying to keep awake (!) and concentrate, as the characters are so worthy and have attitudes and manners which are so honourable and are very different from those of today. The horror of WW1 emphasised. Reader was perfect choice and much admired too, thank you
"Liked - not loved"
I was glad to have read perhaps not happy to have finished. Difficult topic dealt with reasonably well. Didn't much care for the characters.
Good - if somewhat stale - reading didn't really help me get into the story.
Good image of WWI fronts and the brutality, stupidity, awkwardness of it all as well as the amazing changes it brought about.
"bleak, engaging, informative and a good read"
bleak, engaging, informative
the forever war
when the aid station is bombed
A very appropriate read around the 100th anniversary of key WW1 dates.
"Historical Novel Lacking in Sparkle"
I enjoyed hearing about the lives of the Australian nurses in the First World War. I found it interesting to see the development of treatments at the clearing stations to help soldiers better recover. I liked the attempt at realism in the way the nurses were initially treated, and only later gained respect. Although this is fiction - told through the lives of two sisters - I felt it was based on historical facts, without being gruesome or gratuitous. The drawback however, is I found little to distinguish the two main characters apart, and often didn't know which sister's story I was following until she was named. The narrator didn't help as she read the story with a monotone throughout. Her narration was clear and well pronounced, but it made this long book (18 hours) feel even longer. For me it lacked any sparkle to make me care about the lives of all the characters, but it's worth listening for the historical details
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