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Sisters of the Great War Book Review #ourgoodlifebooklist

 I love reading and historical fiction is my favorite genre. This book, Women of Pearl Island by Suzanne Feldman, is one of the best books out there on World War 1 and the role that women had during this time.


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 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.

My Take:

This story about American sisters Elise and Ruth makes you feel that you are right on the Front: hearing, seeing, and smelling everything as it is happening. Elise and Ruth are ambulance drivers and we get a first-hand account of the war through their eyes.

I would love to read a follow-up of these two brave women, especially when the book ended and I didn't want it to. I learned a lot about the war and how women played a huge part but are not recognized for their bravery. Elise is mechanical and can fix about anything. She feels different from other girls and believes that she will never marry. Ruth wants to be a doctor and the fastest route to that end is to volunteer as a nurse in the war effort. Both take the opportunity to jump-start their dreams.

Even though this book has scenes that are horrifying and the descriptions of the suffering of soldiers are nearly unbearable, I learned how much the doctors had to put up with due to the lack of medical information.

I enjoyed the depth of this book as well. Issues such as feminism, LGBT, and others are explored.

The author:

Suzanne Feldman graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1981 and received a Master's in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2004. Her novel Absalom’s Daughters (Holt, 2016) received a starred review in Kirkus. Her short story The Witch Bottle (Gargoyle Magazine 2016) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received a Nebula Award in 2001 for her short fiction and the Editors Prize for fiction in 2005 at The Missouri Review. She has had stories published in Narrative Magazine, including The Lapedo Child which was selected as one of the year’s best (2013). She was a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in 2005. She attended the Sewanee Writers Conference as a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in 2019.

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