An intimate, tender story despite bleak circumstances. The story talks place over three days in 1918 Dublin, mostly in a maternity ward for women with the flu. Julia is a nurse who witnesses death but also helps new life appear. Julia and her volunteer assistant Bridie are wonderful characters who in such a short time learn much from each other. The story is detailed regarding birth, but it also gives an insight into the status of women in Ireland one hundred years ago, and the institutions which were expected to look after orphans but which in fact profited from them. Donoghue began this story in 2018, and the timing is uncanny – it serves as a reminder that there is still love and compassion in the world. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end.
— From What Karin is Reading
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 (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. For more information, visit www.emmadonoghue.com.
“Don’t believe history repeats itself? Read this book…an arresting new page turner of a novel… [The Pull of the Stars] takes place almost entirely in a single room and unfolds at the pace of a thriller.”
—Karen Thompson Walker
, New York Times
“In doing a deep dive into the miseries and terrors of the past, Donoghue presciently anticipated the miseries and terrors of our present. . . . A deft, lyrical and sometimes even cheeky writer . . . she’s given us our first pandemic caregiver novel -- an engrossing and inadvertently topical story about health care workers inside small rooms fighting to preserve life.”
“Donoghue has fashioned a tale of heroism that reads like a thriller, complete with gripping action sequences, mortal menaces and triumphs all the more exhilarating for being rare and hard-fought… As in her best-known work, the deservedly mega selling Room, Donoghue infuses catastrophic circumstances with an infectious -- but by no means blind -- faith in human compassion, endurance and resilience.”
, Washington Post
“The Pull of the Stars moves with the quickness of a thriller. . . . Donoghue has pulled off another feat: She wrote a book about a 100-year-old flu that feels completely current, down to the same frustrations and tensions and hopes and dangers. And she did it without even knowing just how relevant it would be -- how well and frighteningly her own reimagining of a historical catastrophe would square with our actual living experience of its modern sequel.”
, Los Angeles Times
“[Donoghue] conjures up a claustrophobic space -- And into it she brings the world. . . Our collective memory is now a little better anchored, a little more vivid -- thanks to Emma Donoghue.”
“A visceral, harrowing, and revelatory vision of life, death, and love in a time of pandemic. This novel is stunning.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Glass Hotel and Station Eleven
“Captures the reality and valor of frontline women during a global health crisis.”
"Echoes of our current catastrophe abound -- social distancing and confusing messaging among them -- but the heroine copes with so many turn-of-the-century medical horrors that you’ll hardly remember you’re reading a pandemic novel in the first place."
"With an urgency that brilliantly captures the high-stakes horror and exhilaration of life on a pandemic’s front lines, the Room author centers her latest spine-tingler on a maternity ward nurse charged with keeping new mothers -- and herself -- safe as the 1918 Great Flu sweeps Ireland."
“Captivating . . . outstanding . . . This intense and intimate novel unfolds over three days. But we would gladly spend longer with Julia, watching her in awe as she grapples with life and death in her ‘small square of the sickened, war-weary world.’”
"Darkly compelling, illuminated by the light of compassion and tenderness: Donoghue's best novel since Room
"Donoghue offers vivid characters and a gripping portrait of a world beset by a pandemic and political uncertainty. A fascinating read in these difficult times."
"Searing . . . Donoghue's evocation of the 1918 flu, and the valor it demands of health-care workers, will stay with readers."