Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Pull of the Stars - Emma Donoghue

If Emma Donoghue writes it - I need to read it. I've been waiting for The Pull of the Stars to release - and I couldn't help myself - I finished it in a day. Yes, it's that good (as are all of Donoghue's books)

Donoghue wrote The Pull of the Stars before Covid 19 came about. But the similarities are frightening. History truly does repeat itself.

The Pull of the Stars takes place over three days in a maternity quarantine ward in a hospital in Dublin - at the height of the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Julia Power is in charge of the three bed ward as there are very few nurses to go around. The local nunnery provides young Bridie as a helper for Julia. And the third of this triangle is Dr. Lynn. Kathleen Lynn is an actual historical figure who was a pioneer in her field - and deeds. I truly enjoy Donoghue's blending of fact and fiction in her books.

The setting is so detailed, I felt like I was in the little ward, struggling to grab just a bit of the fresh air trying to get in through the wee window. The smells, the lack of privacy, the desperate struggle to just breathe. All while pregnant. The descriptions of childbirth are visceral - and again, true to the time. Julia's care of the sick women in her care and her sense of duty are impeccable. But there are cracks in her carefully cultivated public persona. Her obligations do battle with her want of more. More for her patients, more for women - and more for herself. A partner, a confidant, a child. Bridie's enthusiasm, quickness in mind and body and her outlook on life despite the hardships she has endured will endear her to the reader. Donoghue does a fantastic job as well at bring Dr. Lynn to life. A woman truly ahead of her time.

Ahh, this book is heartbreaking. The treatment of women during this time period, the mortality rate of infants, the Catholic Church's abuse of power, life and death, the effects of war and so much more.  But the spark of light (and pull of the stars) lives in these pages too. A story you won't be able to put down.

So very, very well written. Read an excerpt of The Pull of the Stars.


Kay said...

I pre-ordered this one and will read it at some point. Maybe a little close to home right now. Our daughter is a labor/delivery nurse with 15 years experience. She's been working many, many hours through these COVID months. Not caring for COVID patients, though they are testing all the women admitted to their unit, but dealing with the complications of 'normal' pregnant and laboring mothers who are scared to death of so many things right now. It's been exhausting for them. I try not to worry too much, but it's hard not to. Anyway, I think this would be a book that she and her colleagues would enjoy reading at some point (or listening as that is my daughter's preference). I'll tell her about it and see what she thinks. Thanks for sharing your experience, Luanne!

Ethan said...

I'm with you on this one. I love her writing always, but this one was a cut above the rest for me.

Mystica said...

I've read just the one book and though it was traumatic it was an excellent book. Making a note of this one too.

Luanne said...

Oh Kay, that must be so worrisome for you. And exhausting for the staff. The moms must be so frightened. Especially first time moms. My thoughts are with you. And yes, maybe this is a listen for later.

Ethan, her writing is special. One of my treasured books is a signed copy of Frog Music.

Mystica - yes, traumatic, but impossible to put down.

Kimberly said...

This sounds wonderful. I haven't yet read any of Emma Donoghue's books but I am going to start with this one. I've ordered my copy and am now just waiting for it to arrive.

Patti V said...

Oh this sounds so good. I see why you got thru it in a day!

Luanne said...

Oh Kimberly - I hope you love it as much as I did - please let me know what you think.

Patti - it truly is so very, very good!