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The Daughters of Mars    by Thomas Keneally order for
Daughters of Mars
by Thomas Keneally
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

An unusual look at World War I, The Daughters of Mars tells the story of two Australian nurses who volunteer to serve. We follow them as they make their way from Australia to Egypt, Turkey, and finally, France. Their adventures lead us to understand the military picture from the point of view of the medical service.

We see how idealistic all are until engaged in battle. Then come the wounded, followed by an immediate lack of medical personnel, supplies and locations. All this requires long hours of service and extreme vulnerability to the infectious diseases of that time and place.

Author Keneally's characters are unique and interesting as they try to carve out some semblance of a life amidst the tumult and carnage. In addition he has provided us detailed historical background, as the novel is meticulously researched. The combination makes for a long book, but it is fast-moving.

Throughout, there are luminous incidents of human warmth, bravery and compassion. I would quibble with the ending, but that takes nothing away from the overall story line. A fine work, indeed.

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