The Pull of the Stars
By Emma Donoghue
Powerful Star Attraction.
Once again author Donoghue adeptly leads the reader into a tight physical space and pins us there with such intense pace, life-and-death drama, and deep point of view that the typical gap between thought and dialogue is nearly annihilated.
In this story nurse Julia must cope with few resources and an untrained helper in a maternity ward set aside for quarantined expectant mothers. For three days Julia and Bridie, her helper, fight tirelessly against the encroachment of influenza among their patients and in the process change their own lives unexpectedly.
Donoghue builds the world of war torn Dublin in 1918 in close up through patients’ stories, hospital staff and the women’s families so that ordinary people transport us. The structure of the book is inventive, grimly divided into each advancing stage of influenza, with each one racing us along each relentless exhausting day. By removing all dialogue tags and quotation marks, the action stays close, personal and powerful.