The slow (in a manner of speaking) yet inexorable demolition of my TBR pile keeps going. I finished reading five books in the last five days, stories I grabbed from tours and ARC sites alike.
Sisters of the Great War, a historical novel written by Suzanne Feldman, comes from Edelweiss. It’s a July pick, one that intrigued me from the get-go.
August 1914. While Europe enters a brutal conflict unlike any waged before, the Duncan household in Baltimore, Maryland, is the setting for a different struggle. Ruth and Elise Duncan long to escape the roles that society, and their controlling father, demand they play. Together, the sisters volunteer for the war effort–Ruth as a nurse, Elise as a driver.
Stationed at a makeshift hospital in Ypres, Belgium, Ruth soon confronts war’s harshest lesson: not everyone can be saved. Rising above the appalling conditions, she seizes an opportunity to realize her dream to practice medicine as a doctor. Elise, an accomplished mechanic, finds purpose and an unexpected kinship within the all-female Ambulance Corps. Through bombings, heartache and loss, Ruth and Elise cherish an independence rarely granted to women, unaware that their greatest challenges are still to come.
Illuminating the critical role women played in the Great War, this is a remarkable story of resilience, sacrifice and the bonds that can never be vanquished.
Cover: To be honest? I’m getting tired of seeing characters from the back. Enough with this trend.
- Sisters of the Great War is the story of Ruth and Elise Duncan, two sisters who enlist in the army during WWI. They have their reasons to do so, whether it’s pursuing a dream or escaping from their father’s oppressive household; what awaits them in Ypres, though, has nothing to do with ideals, morals, or the need to do the right thing. Any romantic notion of the war they might have had gets whittled away day after day until there’s nothing left. It’s a realistic book, gritty. Feldman doesn’t pull any punches in Sisters of the Great War, portraying war for what it is: a merciless affair.
- Interesting characters, the two MCs to begin with. Ruth reads better than Elise—her parts are more articulated, even if it’s a double POV novel—but Elise’s arc is less straightforward. That makes for an enjoyable story, enriched by the presence of John and Hera.
- The cast of supporting characters is small, considering, and everyone is well-crafted. The juxtaposition between The Mouse and Dr. Fellowes, for example, it adds layers to their personality, making them both unique.
- Feldman’s style is engaging, her voice reads clear. She doesn’t embellish the story with unnecessary info (yes!), and that’s why Sisters of the Great War is a powerful book.
- The pacing is a little slow at times.
4 stars on GR.