Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who Run The World? Girls, Girls

"Of course we'll be ready.
We're women. We do things."
--Mary-Rose MacColl, In Falling Snow

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction & Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 464
Publication Date: August 27th, 2013
Source: e-galley provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Find on Goodreads

Goodreads Description

 A bestselling Australian writer’s American debut and a heart-wrenching novel of World War I.

Iris Crane’s tranquil life is shattered when a letter summons memories from her bittersweet past: her first love, her best friend, and the tragedy that changed everything. Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love.

The Message I am all about female empowerment and being on equal footing with men in regards to intelligence. This book looked at two women, one is a nurse during the 1910s and the first World War, the other her granddaughter who is a doctor in the 1970s. Both struggle with the oppression against women and the idea that they should all be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. The women in this book are strong, intelligent, capable, and determined. They are constantly struggling to be seen as equals in a world where men dominate. Grace, 1970s doctor, met this head on. She knew she was just as capable as any other man in her profession and was herself in all things. She made decisions and fought against those who deemed her incapable because of her gender. Iris, I felt, took a little more of a back seat view to this. She was present and could plainly see the women around her were brilliant doctors and nurses but didn't really do anything to change her circumstance. *see below*

The Medicine This is both a Belle and a Beast to me depending on which storyline we are discussing. The 1970s medicine was extremely interesting to me. They discussed patients and diagnoses, tests and possible outcomes. I loved seeing the OB-GYN world of the 1970s and how women were treated as doctors. I think the details were fantastic and I always looked forward to these chapters.

Grace I think Grace was the most well-developed character in the book. Whether you liked her or hated her, she had a voice and a direction in her story. She knew who she was and did her best to be the best doctor she could be. She is not a girly-girl by any means and resists those who are there to comfort her. She is not perfect but she is who she is. Her strength in the face of difficult situations is commendable and I found myself really drawn to her character and her point of view. She was the best part about this book for me.

The World War I Perspective I really, REALLY wanted a guerilla-style point of view about working in a field hospital during the first World War. I wanted wounds and injuries and medications. I wanted  to know what it felt like to be just outside the front lines taking care of these men. What I got was a watered down, minimally descriptive, periphery description of what it was like during that time. I didn't get what it felt like to be in the tranches. I knew more about the hospital's layout than what they did for these soldiers on a day-to-day basis. I was majorly disappointed in this aspect.

Iris Along with my WWI POV, I found Iris' narration very frustrating to read. I felt like she was just a shell of a character. She was so objective in her point of view that it felt like she was describing more of other people's feelings in regards to her situation or life than what SHE actually felt. I had no idea if Iris like working at Royaumont, if she liked the bloke she started seeing, if she actually felt a kinship with Violet. I don't know, it all felt very superficial to me. I wanted to shake Iris and be like, FIND AN OPINION, what are we going on about?! She included anecdotes about the things around that had zero impact on plot progression. Thinking back, everything I remember reading about in Iris' story feels like there is a haze around it. The timeline isn't linear, it's is very confusing, and I have really no idea what the entire point of this aspect of the story was.

The Reveal I had read and loved all of Kate Morton's books and I felt like the author was trying to emulate that kind of story. You have a mystery that needs to be fit together, you had random scenes from an unknown  POV with characters you are unsure of who they are. Then all is revealed at the end and I really felt it was rushed and contrived. I could think back and see the details that hinted but I wasn't invested enough in the characters to really care about the secrets at the end. I found it all a bit pointless to be honest.
Probably Not. I really enjoyed the 1970s side of the story but it wasn't enough to get me through all the other 1910s stuff. I found myself skimming the WWI portion because Iris and her voice were just too undeveloped with little direction for me. 


  1. Bummer that the history side of this wasn't that great. I've been into historical fiction lately and when I read the synopsis for this it sounded pretty good. But I would totally want more grit like you. More up-close action scenes in the thick of battle.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that only one of the two stories (based on the era) wound up being particularly appealing to you! This novel sounded like it had the potential to really strike a chord with readers, but it seems like it fell flat in balancing how both women's stories play out. I do think both women sound interesting though!

  3. I'm sorry this one didn't really work for you, but that's okay because I didn't adore it so WHATEVS. I do really love this cover though. And, like we talked about, I wonder if your background left you with different feelings on this book because you able to notice some of the problems with the nursing parts?


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