The Pull of the Stars

The Pull of the Stars

A Novel

Book - 2020
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"Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Harper Avenue, ©2020.
ISBN: 9781443461788
Characteristics: v, 295 pages ;,25 cm.

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dawnclinton
Mar 28, 2021

I liked the book very much. I, too, found lack of quotation marks confusing at times. I wish the homosexuality element had not been added. It was unnecessary to the story, in my opinion, and tarnished the story for me.

h
Hankers
Mar 27, 2021

This novel was an ideal introduction to understanding the pandemic as it affected us in 2020. The circumstances reflect the change in technology and ways we could deal with things 100 years later. Had the book been published about a year or two earlier I would have dismissed it as a nightmare fantasy. Finding it when I did it helped me understand the changes which we needed to make to deal with the state of the world as it was in 2020.

s
Seafishing88
Mar 26, 2021

How graphic. How accurate the details
I began my nursing in Canada not Ireland
1953-1956 polio pandemic nearly over.
Seems we still have a lot to learn.

s
ScorchingSun
Mar 10, 2021

From a mild beginning to harrowing battles against bloody death.
An intense emotional gripper and a timely nod to the current pandemic.

m
margotwd
Feb 27, 2021

Three days in a small cramped maternity fever ward in Dublin Ireland during 1918 war and flu. Well written and well researched, but a bit too much graphic description of difficult births for me, at times I lost the theme of the characters. I do like Donoghue attention to historical details and facts, but it is painful to read of the treatment of women, especially unwed mothers and orphans, over the course of Irish history. And I did learn a new fact: the origin of the word influenza.

m
Margush
Feb 23, 2021

I can’t stand the word flu or pandemic. I started reading it and gave up. I’ll try again when this nightmare we are in is over. Maybe I’ll like it.

b
BlueHippo
Feb 22, 2021

Great book. I don’t say this often, but I really could hardly put it down. The characters are all so well developed and the relationships so true to any one’s life. Add in the fact that one of the characters was a real person (Dr. Kathleen Lynn) and some of the story threads about her are true, plus the amazing glimpse into the frontlines of the 1918 flu pandemic, as well as the history of Ireland’s treatment of unwed mothers and their children, and it is just simply a fascinating read. The only reason that I took of 1/2 star is because the author seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of quotation marks! I got used to it quickly, but it might be confusing for some readers. That said, it is MUCH more readable than “Wolf Hall”!

o
OPL_Cvana
Feb 09, 2021

In this woeful fiction, one character -- Dr. Kathleen Lynn -- is based on a real-life hero. Celtic Life International calls Lynn "one of the great Irish humanitarians of the 20th century." This tale offers a slice of post war-time life with young pregnant women who are sick and quarantined on a crowded makeshift ward during the Great Influenza. Readers will witness the incredible challenges, some of them harrowing, endured by these young mothers and their brave nurses/midwives and doctors. Dramatic graphic scenes can repel and/or elicit empathy. A realist story that takes the reader close to the action.

t
tinlou
Feb 08, 2021

"The public is urged to stay out of public places such as cafes, theatres, cinemas and public houses. See only those persons one needs to see. Refrain from shaking hands, laughing or chatting closely together...if in doubt, don't stir out." Stores are empty, concerts cancelled, hospitals full and people recoil in horror at the sound of neighbours coughing...NO, this is not the pandemic of 2020/21 but Dublin 1918, the setting for Emma Donaghue's new novel about life in a maternity ward as the Spanish Flu decimates the country.

It is brutally graphic in its depiction of high risk childbirths in a hospital with barely any supplies and few medical staff to tend to these mothers. It explores timeless subjects we are still dealing with today, such as poverty, religion, inequality for those needing health care, feminism, gay relationships and of course the pandemic. The author started writing this novel before the pandemic started and it was published during the pandemic. It may not be for everyone but I couldn't put it down.

t
Tinuviel7
Feb 06, 2021

Great book, I was completely hooked and read it in two days. Really interesting learning about treatment back then. Recommended to friends.

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BeckyR21
Dec 22, 2020

The line I found most laughable was the one about lying down for a fortnight; who could afford or manage that without a houseful of servants? p. 235

b
BeckyR21
Dec 22, 2020

Would you not put on a mask, even?
Interestingly, there's very little evidence that they have any protective effect.
p. 144

ArapahoeStaff26 Nov 10, 2020

When had that spark between us first caught, glowed, begun to singe? I hadn’t noticed; I’d been too busy. With births coming pell-mell after deaths, when would I have had time to wonder at something as unimportant as my own new feelings, much less worry about them?

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