Synopsis from Hachette Book Group:
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.
About: The Pull of the Stars is an Irish literature and historical fiction written by Emma Donoghue. It was published on 7/21/2020 by Little, Brown and Company, paperback, 295 pages. The genres are Irish literature, historical fiction, adult fiction, lgbt, and literary fiction. This author was known for Room where there is a movie, both of which are on my list to read and watch. According to the publisher’s website, “Our Vision: To be the #1 destination for authors, agents, customers, client publishers, and employees. To be a respected publisher that values diversity, nurtures talent, rewards success, and honors its responsibilities. To be market focused in all we do, and to lead change in popular culture. To anticipate change, foster creativity, and encourage risk-taking and innovation.” Please see below for more Information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading The Pull of the Stars on 1/24/2021 and finished it on 2/15/2021. This book was an excellent read, though sad. I wouldn’t want to read this book if I’m pregnant. Since my daughter is 18 months old now, the birthing experience is still fresh in my memory and so everything described in this story helped me understand the whole picture. Those women with so many kids like Mrs. Noonan, 33 and have already delivered 11 kids, while pregnant with the 12th sounds extreme. The explanation was that the woman wanted that instead of lack of preventive care! I’m shocked! Though I’m aware my grandma’s generation, she did have a big family. This story was odd in a way that there weren’t any actual conversations with he said/she said and quotation marks. I have never came across this in any of my books I read. The nurse’s job sounds really hard. That Mary O’Rahilly was funny when she thought the baby will pop out of her belly button! Readers can relate when reading this book because of some kind of flu going around that kill people left and right like we are dealing with Covid now.
This book started out following Julia, 30, Midwife and unmarried, told in the first person point of view as she made her way to the hospital. Dublin currently down with some kind of flu and bloodshed from the war. People were urged to cover up their coughs. The hospital where Julia worked as a Nurse were overflow with patients. Julia worked in the Maternity/Fever ward where pregnant women who are sick with the cough and flu. Nurse Julia was to take care of patients but not deliver the baby, but due to lack of doctors, she was forced to deliver too. There were many terrors of childbirth. This story was divided into 4 parts titled by colors: red, brown, blue, and black.
The Pull of the Stars was well written and a fast paced read. I felt for the characters: the pregnant women who are coughing, the hard labor of the nurses and doctors, the people who lived in poverty/convent, and the wounded soldiers who came back from the war damaged. It was interesting to learn about Irish women and how it was normal for them to mother many children. Given the line of work Julia was in, I wouldn’t want to get married either. The pain of giving birth is the most painful pain of all. I know because that dose of epidural wasn’t enough and I still felt the pain. I’m surprised to learn that nuns don’t just work at church, but hold top positions at hospitals too. I have seen movies with nuns depicted as wicked and evil so Bridie’s stories just confirmed my beliefs. The love came and went too quick and I would have loved to follow Bridie’s thought process just to know why she made the move when Julia didn’t even noticed her feelings. All characters were well written and I liked Julia and Bridie’s sharp minds. All in all, an intense read and I recommend this story to everyone!
I rate it 5 stars!
About the Author:
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (The Wonder, Frog Music, Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes. (Photo and info obtained from Hachette’s website).