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The Pull of the Stars: A Novel by Emma…
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The Pull of the Stars: A Novel (edition 2020)

by Emma Donoghue (Author)

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3502753,719 (4.09)36
Member:Dyrfinna
Title:The Pull of the Stars: A Novel
Authors:Emma Donoghue (Author)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2020), 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

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A historical novel set at an Irish hospital during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, from the perspective of Julia, a midwife handling infected pregnant women. The writing is clear, honest, and sometimes brutally matter-of-fact in its descriptions of suffering. Loved the beginnings of a relationship between Julia and Bridie. Loved the hints of broader conversations about war, religion, politics, medicine, misogyny, poverty, all of which provided wonderful depth and verisimilitude to the story. ( )
  RandyRasa | Oct 25, 2020 |
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is set in Dublin in 1918 – the war and the flu epidemic. Given the current pandemic, it seems timely with lessons to be learned. However, the book is much more about the challenges of a maternity ward with copious medical descriptions. That and two love stories that are introduced out of nowhere towards the end of the book make this not the book for me. So disappointing.

Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2020/10/the-pull-of-stars.html

Reviewed for NetGalley. ( )
  njmom3 | Oct 24, 2020 |
In Dublin, 1918, it is a time of immense global and social change. Emma Donoghue’s latest novel ‘The Pull of the Stars’ takes place almost exclusively in a cramped three-bed fever ward in an understaffed hospital. All patients are pregnant and quarantined while the world is racked by war and influenza. Both of these are unpredictable, killing at random, lasting longer than predicted and classless. This is an at times breath-taking, touching and emotional novel that sucks you into a feverish dream so you want to read on and on.
Taking place over three days, Nurse Power arrives for work to find herself temporarily in charge. Donoghue excels at the ordinary detail of Julia’s life, her journey to work, the arbitrary rules of the matron, the needs at home of her war-damaged soldier brother Tim who is now mute. On the day the story stars, Julia’s only help comes from an untrained young volunteer, Bridie McSweeney, who acts as a runner to find doctor or orderly as required. The figure of three recurs – three beds, three days, three key characters. The third, Doctor Kathleen Lynn, is a real person, her history documented. She was arrested during the 1916 Easter Rising and in ‘The Pull of the Stars’ is wanted by the police as a rebel. Power and McSweeney are Donoghue’s inventions. Every character, major and minor, is touched by the twin enemies of war and flu.
Gradually we fall under the spell of Donoghue’s story as Julia and Bridie attend to the needs of their patients in the room with its handwritten note on the door, Maternity/Fever. As temperatures rise and coughs hack, labour pains rise and fall. Donoghue doesn’t skimp on the detail of labour, this isn’t for the squeamish, but she writes with such skill that makes you care for her patients too.
This novel pulls you into its drama and won’t let you go until the end. The ebb and flow of each patient’s condition, Julia’s never-ending fight to help them despite the lack of support, the joy of birth and grief of death, the irreverence and youth brought into the room by Bridie, the quiet and resolute calm of Doctor Lynn, are woven together to create a micro portrayal in this small room of the world in 1918. And bound into every page is the strength and hope of love. I read this book in two sittings.
Researched and written prior to Covid-19, this book is an eerie glimpse into how the Spanish Flu epidemic ravaged through a world at war a century ago, distracted and ill-equipped to deal with it.
A small grumble – I find the lack of speech marks jarring.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Oct 22, 2020 |
I am so glad I had the chance to read this book. I had read a previous novel by Emma Donoghue but I did not expect to enjoy this book even more than the first book.
I have always been fascinated by the Flu Pandemic of 1918 and it was basically family lore as my great grandfather died in the pandemic.
Nurse Julia Powers works in a ward with expectant mothers who have contacted the flu. Julia has already had the flu which is one less worry for her. She is dealing with tragic and heart breaking situations where no matter how hard she tries she is going to lose some patients. Each death of a mother or baby lays heavier on her heart. She is also trying to look after her brother who came back from the Great War psycologically scarred.
I became so emotionally involved with Julia and her patients. It must have been awful during the pandemic. They didn't really know the exact cause of the pandemic, or how to treat it effectively. Antibiotics did not exist at that time. I also appreciated learning more about Doctor Kathleen Lynn who was a rebel on the run from the police.
Once again, I ended up in tears at the end of a book by Emma Donoghue. I was so happy for her but then devasted at the end. No, I will not give any spoilers away. This is another exceptional novel by Emma Donoghue. ( )
  Veronica.Sparrow | Oct 10, 2020 |
Emma Donoghue finished this just before the pandemic struck, and it's about the 1918 pandemic as seen through the eyes of a young midwife in Dublin. Of course, there is commentary on the horrors of Catholic church-run organizations - work homes and orphanages, but that's not as detailed and overwhelming as her description of violence against women in Slammerkin. A few times she mentions a saying at the time,"you can't show you love him unless you give him 12" to show women bred into exhaustion and disease. The characters are all fictitious except for the woman rebel doctor Dr. Kathleen Lynn. I love her medical details, she packs a bundle of procedures into three days of work. I can't say there's really a plot, just action to emphasize the reality of the times, poverty, misogyny, hypercritical judgment of those in power against those without. I fell in love with Julia, the midwife, her brother Tim and the hardworking runner Birdie. Dr Lynn is shown to be brave, competent, supremely community-oriented and forward-thinking. Emma Donoghue never disappoints. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Oct 7, 2020 |
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Still hours of dark to go when I left the house that morning.
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She doesn't love him unless she gives him twelve.
Guilt was the sooty air we breathed these days.
It's like a secret code, Bridie Sweeney said with pleasure. Red to brown to blue to black.
It suddenly struck me as perverse that someone was said to have grown up in a home only if she had no real home.
That's what influenza means, she said. Influenza delle stella--the influence if the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved that the heavens were governing their fates, that people were literally star-crossed.
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Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM.

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, 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.
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