By the author of Schindler's Ark, a profoundly affecting tale of love, courage and sacrifice and a searing evocation of the First World War from a fresh, female perspective.
In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front.
Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humour and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of some remarkable women. And in France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence - if only they all survive.
At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings the First World War to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to the men and women who voluntarily risked their lives for peace.
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published twenty-six novels since. They include SCHINDLER`S ARK, which won the Booker Prize in 1982 and was subsequently made into the film Schindler`s List, and THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH, CONFEDERATES and GOSSIP FROM THE FOREST, each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His most recent novels are THE TYRANT`S NOVEL, THE WIDOW AND HER HERO and THE PEOPLE`S TRAIN. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including his boyhood memoir HOMEBUSH BOY, THE COMMONWEALTH OF THIEVES and SEARCHING FOR SCHINDLER and AUSTRALIANS. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney.
'Inspired by the letters and journals of Australian nurses, this is wonderfully - but never obtrusively - researched. It is superbly exciting to read; one expects no less form the author of Schindler's Ark. An unmissable, unforgettable tribute.' — The Times
'phrasemaking of such powerful resonance that the result is something few authors would aim for, let alone achieve: genuine grandeur...Keneally retains his miraculous sense of originality...The sudden jolting appearance of an unexpected but unimprovable word is a feat he pulls off again and again...Keneally never loses sight of the individual members of his increasingly huge cast, treating the themes of family and friendship with the same mixture of quiet seriousness and page-turning brio as he tackles the war.' — James Walton, Telegraph
'Along with a Tolstoyan ability to describe the horrors of battle, this amazing book also has an extraordinary intimacy, especially in the relationship between the sisters (again, Tolstoy comes to mind.)...an altogether towering achievement.' — AN Wilson, Readers Digest
'The skill of Tom Keneally is that he writes with a large scope on matters from the Irish diaspora to convict life in Australia, the Holocaust and now World War I, but his stories are engagingly intimate.' — Julie Thomson, Daily Telegraph, Sydney
'No Australian author has written more eloquently or extensively of war than Tom Keneally...Now, at last and triumphantly, there is a full-scale Keneally novel of the Great War...All of it is handled by Keneally with calm mastery. If epic is no longer a literary category that fits this world, THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS nonetheless has a tragic and humane span that few recent novels have attempted, let alone equalled.' — Peter Pierce, Canberra Times
'Tom Keneally excels in exploring how tragedy brings out both the best and the worst in individuals, and his memorable characters...provide some surprising flashes of humour and touching romance amid the carnage. This is a novel which effortlessly balances the epic and the intimate and which, despite its unusual ending, is a profoundly satisfying story.' — We Love This Book
'Complex, dark and filled with unexpected turns, The Daughters of Mars is a moving novel, which is as much about the strained relationship between two women as the perils of war...a gripping and emotional read.' — Easy Living
"...a vibrant epic of effortless scope and humanity which is lifted further by its dynamic heroines. It will take your breath away" — The Simple Things
'This is a book that deserves to sit with the very best of the many books on that subject [First World War], including All Quiet on the Western Front and Birdsong. It's that good and that powerful...Along the way there are remarkable friendships, romantic encounters and a wealth of often quite graphic medical encounters. It's beautifully researched and you quickly become taken up in the story. I'm not a huge fan of the hospital drama genre but even I was taken in. It's poignant and moving and is one of those endings that you will just want to talk about with someone else who has read the book. Get a friend to read it at the same time, because you will want to take about the ending. Trust me.' — The Book Bag
'This is a psychologically convincing tale of two ordinary women's experience of the thoroughly masculine world of war' — Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times
'Keneally's magic makes his shop-worn subject seem fresh...Over and over again, a brief but brilliant phrase (an injured soldier "writhing and trembling but with a good-mannered lack of excess") turns a statistic into a real person and wrings compassion from you.' — Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
'One could portray The Daughters of Mars as a knowing fusion of Victorian realist grandeur and imperfect modernist daring. . . but such a union doesn't do justice to Keneally's assurance as a storyteller, the subtleties of his many characters, and his ability to shock and awe, amuse and unsettle, sometimes all at once. For all its ambition and scale, The Daughters of Mars begins and ends with a clear-sighted, intimate and deeply moving depiction of sisterly love which endures at a time when litttle else on earth did, or could.' — James Kidd, Literary Review