Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

Title: The Daughters of Mars
Author: Thomas Keneally
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Library Copy
This book would be rated: PG-13 for violence, also a little bit of sex, some bad language

Naomi and Sally Durrance are sisters, both nurses, living in Australia at the outbreak of World War I. Their mother has recently died, and the sisters decide independently to join the war effort. They've never been close, and suddenly they're on the same ship, going through the same types of new and unbearably difficult experiences. Their lives in Australia haven't prepared them for the blood and carnage, the shipwrecks, the politics, and the other atrocities of the war. 

Have you ever read a book you know you should like, but you just didn't? That's how I feel about The Daughters of Mars. The three-star rating is because I know in my mind that the book is worthy of at least three stars, but getting through it was agonizing. It felt like eating nasty vegetables, but because it was a library book and I had other library books due back at the same time that I wanted to read, I pushed through. The characters are complex and well-drawn, and the story was epic, so I can't exactly put my finger on what it was that made the book so difficult for me, but I think it was the narrative voice-- there was just a little bit too much emotional reserve and distance in it, which seems to make sense because Naomi and Sally aren't the kind of girls to open their hearts to anyone, but that distance also held me as a reader at bay.

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