The timing on this one is perfect, and surprising when you think about how Emma Donoghue starting writing the story in 2018, and it is so relevant today. It’s startling when you think about how history can repeat itself and leaves you to consider how we can learn from history. The one thing that might not change is the astonishing heroes in times of crisis. The ones of yesterday and we see today! It’s stories like this that focus on the remarkable, selfless heroes that rise above all the ugly, put others first and risk it all to save others and don’t lose their humanity along the way.
Emma Donoghue does not shy away from the ugliness of the 1918 Great Flu as she creates a tense one-room scene here in the “maternity/fever” hospital room in Dublin. She develops a darkly and graphic written story here with the details surrounding the care and procedures with the pregnant women suffering from the deadly flu. She creates unflinching, remarkable women here with Nurse Julia and volunteer Bridie while highlighting not only their courage but stamina with the overwhelming conditions. Women are represented well here as the story explores the lives and bodies of women, and Julia addresses some concerns the patients live under with kindness, compassion yet still showing human feelings of frustrations and anger. Not only is the dark realities explored here, we see hope and survival against all the odds.
I loved the relationship Julia and Bridie developed over such a short time as they bond together over the painful conditions they are dealing with. We see the beauty in the characters through their compassion for each other and selfless determination to do what it takes for the women suffering from the disease.
It’s an empowering story that celebrates our selfless heroes and one that highlights the realities of their world. I highly recommend but with caution to readers who need a more gentle read.
Another fantastic novel by a favourite author of mine.
Relevant and timely. Eye-opening and informative. Outstanding and unforgettable characters!
Dublin, 1918: Julia Power celebrates her thirtieth birthday while working as a nurse in the maternity unit of a hospital overloaded with patients battling a new and deadly strain of influenza. Expectant mother’s who show signs of the Great flu are transferred to Julia’s charge. Her makeshift ward is an old supply closet that fits three beds with very little room to move between patients. Julia is overjoyed when volunteer Bridie Sweeney arrives eager and ready to assist. Julia and Bridie form a quick friendship while working endlessly to tend to their patients.
This was a powerful, extremely relevant and informative story that had me surprised at how very similar this time in our history was to our current world situation battling Covid 19. Our current world pandemic made this novel feel even more real and impactful.
Although extremely atmospheric and relevant to our times, I found the characters to be the heart of this book! I simply adored the main character Julia. I loved her personality, her work ethic, her dedication to her patients and staff. She was a phenomenal lead character. Bridie was just as enjoyable and endearing — the type of character who got right to my heart.
The novel takes place over the span of three days. We get to know the characters in their work environment but their personal lives filter into the story which makes it even more relatable and heart wrenching. There is a lot of birthing detail that could make some readers uncomfortable. The atmosphere is thick — I truly felt as if I was alongside the characters witnessing them assisting their patients and making on-the-spot decisions.
Overall, this was a beautifully written and detailed story that had me fully invested and rooting for the characters. I highly recommend!