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Band Of Sisters: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, 2 June 2021
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"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines...A triumph."
— Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.
A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.
Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.
Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.
With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters
“With heart and humor, Willig explores the complexities of female friendships―feuds, forgiveness, and all. A touching portrait of triumph and found family in the midst of war. Bravo!” -- Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling author of America's First Daughter & The Women of Chateau Lafayette
“An inspiring ode to the indomitable strength of women and the fierce, indelible bonds of female friendship, a tale of she-roes that will make you both laugh and cry.” -- Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen’s Fortune
“An affecting and memorable tale of women and the way their friendships are tested by a changing world and the unforgiving crucible of conflict. Altogether it’s an utterly entertaining and enlightening work of historical fiction. Brava!” -- Jennifer Robson, bestselling author of Our Darkest Night
“Willig expertly uses historical detail in her seamless, well-plotted tale. This will entice readers from the very first page.” -- Publishers Weekly
“Band of Sisters spotlights a fascinating group of young women who braved the strains of world war to help those caught in the crossfire and left direly in need. Through snappy dialogue and endearing characters, Willig delivers a heartwarming tale powered by sisterly support, forgiveness, and the strength found together―and within.” -- Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday
"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph." -- Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue.
"Captivating! The ever-masterful Lauren Willig beautifully celebrates these singular women.” -- Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Mysterious Mrs. Christie.
“Brimming with a cast of characters to love and root for, and based on actual events and the lives of truly brave women, BAND OF SISTERS is the perfect story for our troubled times. This is the historical novel you’ve been hungering for.” -- Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things
About the Author
- Publisher : HarperCollins US (2 June 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 528 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062986155
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062986153
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 3.33 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 914,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top review from Australia
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The women set sail for France, once they arrived in Paris they discover it’s a very crowded city and country is consumed by the war. When they finally arrive at the Chateau it’s in ruins and what hasn’t been damaged by the war had been vandalized by the German army and it’s inhabitable. Women, children and the elderly are living in terrible conditions and many are living underground in cellars, hungry and filthy.
Band Of Sisters is based on true story about an extraordinary group of women, they endured dreadful conditions, worked long hours and while being under fire from the nasty Boche and witness firsthand how much the French women and children suffered during The Great War. They provided shelter from the harsh elements, food, emotional support, medical care and milk and education for the children.
The suffering of the French people during WW I was unimaginable, the women from the Smith College Relief Unit really made a remarkable difference and it’s an exceptional wartime story that needed to be shared. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, an outstanding and well written book by Lauren Willig and five stars from
Top reviews from other countries
Band of Sisters was inspired by a cache of real letters, written by Smith alums, who actually did go to France in the waning years of WWI. Willig excerpts these letters at the beginning of every chapter, but that is the end of it. The names and characters you see in those letters never appear in the actual novel — a super-confusing detail which I struggled with for (I am ashamed to admit) ten chapters before the penny finally dropped and I flipped to the historical note at the end to confirm my suspicions. Willig uses these letters as a weak scaffolding to concoct her own plot, but the problem is, the story is meanderingly dull while at the same time intensely grim (very grim, grim with gruesome details about death and trauma, faces blown off and dying babies). The Smith alumnae - and there are a lot of them - are weakly drawn and so interchangeable I had to keep flipping back to remember who was who, and whether I cared, which — sadly— I did not.
If not for the pandemic, maybe I would have been able to wade through the wartime horrors. But I expected better of Willig - more engaging characters, a plot I could sink my teeth into, and a satisfying read. Band of Sisters delivered none of those.
For me, I liked the fact the heroines were far from perfect. You felt their ups and downs, insecurities and frustrations. There were some things, to me, that were started and not developed enough ( Courcelles, almost assualt consequences, Nick/Julia/Kate ) while some things had too much (Liza/Maud).
In the end, I enjoyed this book very much. Like all of Lauren's books, the research into the historical of her fiction is 2nd to none. I walk away educated as well as entertain.
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