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The Daughters of Mars

by Thomas Keneally

In 1915 sisters Naomi and Sally Durance answer a call for nurses to join the war effort. Escaping from their family farm in Macleay Valley the two sisters leave with excitement, bravado, and a dark secret. They are immediately exposed to the horrors of war as they witness Mars in all his ferocity at Gallipoli.

The sisters and their newfound friends,with whom they will witness undreamt-of carnage, find themselves courageous in the face of the horror.

After training the Naomi and Sally are sent to north Europe where Naomi nurses in the visionary Australian Voluntary Hospital run by the committed and eccentric Lady Tarlton, and Sally in a casualty clearing station next to the Western Front. Here, again, they must face the inhumanity of war in its many terrible guises – where trench warfare and gas abound. But it is here, too, that the sisters meet the remarkable men with whom they wish to spend the rest of their lives.

This is a beautiful book, inspired by the journals of sister nurses of World War II. Tom Keneally explores historically significant issues through the narrative that remain relevant in today, as well as depicting the delicate relationships between sisters.

#95 in Australia’s Top 100 2016



About Thomas Keneally

Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 in country New South Wales to Irish Catholic parents. As a child he dreamed of becoming a famous sportsman. In 1958 he entered the seminary but left in 1960 before being ordained. He had a number of different jobs and became for a time a schoolteacher. Keneally published his first book The Place at Whitton in 1964. He won the Miles Franklin Award in consecutive years for his novels Bring Larks and Heroes (1967) and Three Cheers for the Paraclete(1968). He was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times before being the first Australian ever to win it, in 1982, for Schindler’s Ark. This book formed the basis of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar Award-winning film Schindler’s List. His novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith was made into a film by Fred Schepisi. The author played a cameo role. Thomas Keneally has written over thirty books, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as plays and essays. He is an ardent Republican and was the founding chairman of the Australian Republican Movement. In 1983, Keneally became a member of The Order of Australia and in 1997 was named as an Australian Living Treasure.



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