The Pull of the Stars
In Dublin, 1918, a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu is a small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, in "Donoghue's best novel since Room" (Kirkus Reviews).
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.
In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This heart-wrenching historical novel proves that, in many ways, a century can feel like no time at all. Set in Dublin during the 1918 Spanish-flu pandemic, The Pull of the Stars draws us into the first-person story of Julia Power, a nurse working in a quarantined maternity ward in an understaffed hospital. Amid the chaos, Julia teams up with a doctor who’s also a wanted Sinn Féin member—the character’s based on a real-life historical figure, Dr. Kathleen Lynn—and a scrappy volunteer named Bridie. Together, the three women battle the ravages of the outbreak to provide care to various frightened expectant moms. Room author Emma Donoghue’s attention to detail gives the moving story a visceral sense of its place and time (it practically made us feel like we’d taken a crash course in early 20th-century OB-GYN practices). Like the present-day pandemic that Donoghue’s story can’t help but evoke, The Pull of the Stars reveals heroism and hope in uncertainty, and comfortingly reminds us that people have survived such times before.
Donoghue's searing tale (after Akin) takes readers to a Dublin beleaguered by wartime shortages and ravaged by a lethal new strain of influenza. On Halloween in 1918, nurse Julia Powers, single and ambivalent about marriage, is about to turn 30. When Julia's supervisor gets the flu, Julia is left alone serving a ward of high-risk pregnant influenza patients. Kathleen Lynn (the story's only historical figure), an activist involved with the radical Sinn F in party, supplements Julia's own knowledge of obstetrics, and volunteer Bridey Sweeney arrives to help with the backbreaking work. Julia feels a powerful draw to the smart and willing Bridey, whose optimism belies her impoverished upbringing in a brutal charity orphanage. As they cope with the ward's unceasing cycle of birth and death, their closeness challenges Julia's sense of herself and her life. While the novel's characters and plot feel thinner than the best of the author's remarkable oeuvre, her blunt prose and detailed, painstakingly researched medical descriptions do full justice to the reality of the pandemic and the poverty that helps fuel it. Donoghue's evocation of the 1918 flu, and the valor it demands of health-care workers, will stay with readers.
The Pull of The Stars
Liked the story but was unnerved by the lack of quotations in this book. I had to mentally add the quotes while reading dialogue, which slowed my pace and affected my reading experience.
As a nurse I found it amazing what the conditions were medically, warfare and the worst pandemic in history.
It’s been a long while since I could not put a book down.