Karen S recently enjoyed Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig, a brand new novel of historical fiction set against the British home front circa March 1918. Here is her review:
In the final year of World War I, a group of Smith College alumni known as the Smith College Relief Unit went to France to give aid to the remaining residents of destroyed French villages near the front line. Miraculously, every member of the unit made it home safe, both in life and in Lauren Willig’s latest historical novel.
Kate, Emmie, and Julia are among the group of 18 women who head out together with lots of good intentions, but no idea of what they’re heading into, or what they’re doing, really. After a number of months supporting the villages and getting pretty good at their work, the Germans launch their spring offensive in March 1918 and since the villages are only a few miles from the front, the British army wants the women to leave immediately. They refuse, instead working up to the last possible minute to evacuate the villagers they’ve been helping. Slowly, over their time in France, this band of strangers and near strangers had evolved into a true band of sisters.
The three main characters are totally made-up (though drawing from characteristics of real people), while most of the others are based pretty closely on real Smith Unit women, and the letters home that begin each chapter are taken from their real letters.
People who’ve read and enjoyed All the Ways We Said Goodbye will recognize the village of Courselles and its backstory from that book. This book has intrigue, romance, and touches of humour mixed in -- such as Emmie, a city girl, being tasked with buying hens to provide them with eggs, and then wondering for several months why they haven’t produced any eggs. It turned out, they were roosters!
This is an engaging, page-turning historical novel that ultimately deals mainly with relationships. It should appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes’ The Girl you Left Behind, The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly, and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.
Reserve Band of Sisters here.
Check of Karen's other picks here.