Author: Lauren Willig
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks on Mar. 2, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: William Morrow
Book Rating: 10/10
A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.
A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.
Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.
Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.
With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?
Poignant, affecting, and incredibly immersive!
Band of Sisters is an absorbing, stirring tale set in German-Occupied France during WWI that follows seventeen young American women from Smith College as they embark on a mission that doesn’t quite go as smoothly as planned, to befriend and use their own unique skillsets to provide relief, food, medical care, and education to the villagers whose lives have been decimated by war.
The prose is seamless and vivid. The characters are courageous, driven, and resilient. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel into a sweeping saga of life, loss, secrets, insecurities, self-discovery, heartbreak, determination, survival, tragedy, and friendship.
Overall, Band of Sisters is a rich, evocative, beautifully written novel by Willig that grabs you from the very first page and is sure to be a big hit with book clubs and historical fiction fans everywhere. I absolutely devoured it, and it is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year!
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.