When I first came across the latest novel by celebrated author Emma Donoghue (Room, Wonder), I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure about reading a book about a pandemic while living through another pandemic. In the end however, the influenza pandemic of 1918 serves as a back drop in The Pull of the Stars. Donoghue brings us a story about nurse Julia Powers, who works in the fever and maternity ward, treating patients infected with the deadly influenza that has been ravaging the globe. Taking place mostly in a converted storage room, this brilliant novel is action packed. This book tackles many important social issues such as poverty and abuse, along with the political and religious state of Dublin, Ireland in 1918.
Though the characters are fictitious, the one trusted and favoured doctor in the novel, Dr. Lynn, is based on real life doctor Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955). Dr. Lynn may only pop into nurse Power’s room from time to time, but she is a pivotal and critical character, delivering Power with the confidence to use her better judgment in every situation. It’s hard to not come away from this novel with an enriched sense of awe and appreciation for the nursing community, especially during a pandemic.
I highly recommend this book, and particularly recommend it as a book club read, as days later I’m still working through unpacking all the many layers within these pages.
Meredith is a Disney obsessed stay-at-home mom. When she’s not planning a trip, you’ll find her with her nose in a book.