This book was one of the Sir Walter Scott Prize nominations for 2013 for historical fiction. I bought it over the course of the Borders Book Festival. But never got round to reading it as it was a daunting read about the First World War.
However chilled after my Easter break I decided it was time to read this book and a couple of other books I have about both the first and second world war. To see the pluses and minuses of each of the world war fiction. Appropriate in this the 100th year since the first world war.
It took me a while to get into the Daughters of Mars if I am honest. But I did persevere. The book is about two Australian sisters who go to the Dardanelles first and then to France as nurses. Their relationship post the war is fraught with sibling rivalry and misconceptions about each other. The war changes them and they build a new relationship and this is a key part of the book and one that I enjoyed seeing develop. The book also does not hold back on the horror and blood of the first world war. It would be an ideal book to read if you were studying it at school or University. As it brings the war to life and does not hold back on how truly awful it was and how it changed people mentally forever. The characters in the book are fantastic and I especially loved the formidable Matron with the biggest heart.
Overall a great historical novel and I can totally see why it was nominated for the prize. My only criticism would be the ending. I thought it very confusing and did not like the fact that it had two different endings for each of the sisters. It felt like the author did not know quite how to finish it. But that aside a gritty read about the First World War with some great writing and characters.