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Publisher's Summary

Three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. The Pull of the Stars is the Sunday Times best seller from the acclaimed author of The Wonder and Room.

The old world dying on its feet, a new one struggling to be born....

Dublin, 1918. In a country doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over the course of three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue tells an unforgettable and deeply moving story of love and loss.

 Shortlisted for the An Post Irish Book Awards - Eason Novel of the Year

The Telegraph's 'Best Novels of 2020'

Guardian's 'Brilliant Books to Transport You This summer', 'Best Books of 2020'

Cosmopolitan's 'Best Books to Read this summer'

Stylist's 'Best summer Reads

©2020 Emma Donoghue (P)2020 Macmillan Publishers International Limited

Critic Reviews

"Stunning." (Emily St. John Mandel)

"Narrator Emma Lowe's layered characterizations include distinct Irish accents and diction that illuminate the backgrounds of the protagonists and hospital staff. The pregnant women in their care are depicted with particular sensitivity; their pain, joy, and loss are all keenly felt. As circumstances around the women intensify, so will listeners' investment in the outcomes of their stories. (AudioFile)

"An immersive, unforgettable fever-dream of a novel." (The Times)

What listeners say about The Pull of the Stars

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A day in Pandemic 1918

Pandemic, uncertainty, despair, hope - The 2020 pandemic is just a sliver of what humankjnd has been through, over the past centuries of documented history. This book shows how impacting the 1918 influenza was, intertwined with the aftereffects of war, penned down from a lense of frontline medical worker - Nurse Julia Powers. The book takes you into the maternity ward of a small hospital in Dublin, Ireland of 1918 and puts you right in the middle of all the chaos and action. Absolutely loved the narrative and the audible version.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-07-20

Extraordinary

What an amazing story, beautifully written and heartbreakingly compulsive listening! Highly recommended, especially during the current pandemic.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-09-20

incredible

This was an incredible read, so well researched from a Midwifery/Birth and pandemic perspective. As a midwife I found myself at the edge of my seat either cheering for a good outcome and in contrast feeling the sadness that envelopes when tragic events happen. The historical references to midwife/nursing in 1918 and the poverty/stigma/exclusion brought the reader into the actual corridors and minds of those working through the flu pandemic. As a midwife working through Covid I was struck by the commonalities in care advise that we've been practising/given, obviously notwithstanding how lucky we are to be working within a modern healthcare system. It was a great tribute to many of the women who experienced institutionalised care that their stories were told with compassion and at last their experiences have been given a voice in some way.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Emma Love
  • 31-07-20

Brilliant author and narrator

This is a harrowing but captivating account set over the course of three days. The immediacy and intimacy of the narrative make it difficult to put down. It has obviously been painstakingly researched and is brilliantly written.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Hayley
  • 26-07-20

Timely and poinient

Narrated with a lovely Irish tone, this book kept me guessing until the end. A lovely story which highlighted many current issues and got me thinking deeply.

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  • M. A. O' Connell
  • 11-09-20

Immersive novel

As a midwife I really enjoyed this fictitious account of life as a midwife in Ireland in 1918 during the flu pandemic. A must read or listen. I found myself totally immersed in the story and enjoyed the performance of the narrator on Audible. Details of the cases are well researched and feel very real.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-08-20

A timely look back

Emma Lowe is the perfect narrator for this book. It's set in a 'flu/obstetrics ward in Dublin as the 'flu takes over from the death toll of WW1. It takes place over three days, focusing on the graphic details of childbirth and death from 'flu, written from the viewpoint of an overworked, dedicated nurse on the front line of patient care. Other aspects of the background are the growth of the IRA and the inhumane treatment of orphans and unmarried mothers.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-07-20

Not sure whether I enjoyed or not

I thought the narration was very good - however the story went on a bit too much about childbirth and the treatment of mothers in Ireland.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-02-21

Great “slice of life" from post WW1 Ireland.

Great narration (the shouting shocked me a little!)

Very well written, not too much plot though (apart from the odd ending). It felt almost like a journal from a particularly hectic couple of days in a flu maternity ward.

If you are interested in what people went through, listen.

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  • Jonny
  • 07-12-20

Compelling and timely book.

I simply couldn't stop listening! It was beautifully narrated and was so relevant to Covid times that it was difficult to imagine it was set 100 years ago. I loved every moment.

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  • Melissa O'Shea
  • 11-11-20

Wow

At moments breathtaking, captivating throughout. Highly recommend this beautiful piece of literature with a glimpse into a pandemic passed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ingrid
  • 17-03-21

Gripping and moving

The story was very well narrated. The descriptions were very realistic and rather harrowing at times. A grievous slice of history brought to life. The ending was very satisfying. Highly recommended if you are not squeamish.

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  • Aimee
  • 17-03-21

Enthralling

This book captivated me from the start. I enjoyed the accurate midwifery content as well as learning about the horrors of the influenza at this time. A timely novel of life in a global pandemic 100 years ago.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-01-21

A must read in the Ireland of today.

A poignant and heartbreaking tale transporting the reader to the bedside of the 1918 pandemic. Reading this historical fiction in January 2021 in the midst of COVID 19 and during the height of the mother and baby home scandal in Ireland creates true emotion and a powerful unforeseen parallel created by Emma Donoghue.

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  • Erin
  • 23-12-20

the book you need to read this year

I absolutely consumed this book- 3 days in a maternity ward mid pandemic in Ireland during the 1918 Spanish influenza.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-12-20

For women who've gone through child birth only

Beautifully written but it's a slow read, with over abundant description and detail, especially when it came to child birth. The details could be alarming for any women who have not gone through the experience. It was slow and depressing for most of the book, where the storyline suddenly speeded up at the end.

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  • Fiona Edmonds
  • 09-12-20

Sickening

Was unable to proceed with this book, as I was feeling sickened by relentless graphic descriptions of blood, phlegm vomit and piss. Life is short.

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  • LVR
  • 21-10-20

A story of hard times that will pull you in!

Excellent narration of a story set 100 years ago but which resonates with the trials of 2020. The detailed midwifery practices, the strong hold of the church over the psyche of the general populace and the brief touching upon of the brutality of the church- run orphanages make for a riverting story. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-09-20

Absolutely heart wrenching

Fantastically written, beautiful yet tragic story. As a midwife myself in this day and age I can still draw so many parallels to 100 years ago. Thank you, I will be recommending to all.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-09-20

Recommended

Beautifully written and read. A joy to listen to. The timing of this book and the current pandemic made all the more interesting.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-09-20

Mixed Emotions

I love queer representation as much as the next lesbian, but the romance in this story felt kind of unnecessary/out of the blue/"tacked on". I would have preferred it be signposted better (i.e. more chemistry) or even just... left out altogether!! I don't actually think it served much purpose in the novel.

I did find the setting fascinating and the story slow but also very compelling (and it does pull at the heart strings.) It finished very suddenly and I would have liked a bit more. I also would have liked more on Dr Lynn.

The audiobook performance jumped a little (some parts weirdly cut out occasionally when I listened) and is set up in 4 parts rather than chapters. I prefer chapters.

All in all, though, I'm glad I read this book and some parts have really stuck with me!