Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tom Keneally, The Daughters of Mars


Tom Keneally, The Daughters of Mars.

I don't read Tom Keneally lightly. Having read Schindlers Ark and been scared forever. Yes another novel on the horrors and stupidity of war.

The Daughters of Mars is based on the experiences of two Australian sisters who are nurses who follow the Australian troops; as they wage war in the Mediterranean and France.

As a nurse and an Australian I found many connecting stories to my story. A nurse, put under pressure and the distress at times it can cause. But what the nurses in the story and during that period went through was incrediably traumatic. The wounds of World War One, the maming through bullets, shrapnel and shells. Yet worst of all gass. Which attacked the centeral nervous system and lungs in a horrific maner. Somthing which I would never want to go through.

The stories of nurses coming from 'Bush nursing homes in Gipsland' amused me. Phillip Island's hospital as mentioned to me by many of the older locals was a 'Bush Nursing home' Now unfortunatley there is nothing.

The name 'Monash' which I am likely to phone as our client is an inpatient; or drive along; or the education institution. But to think of the reason behind the name Monash the general; It never occurs to me. Though I always knew he was a famous guy, I never realized the idolision of him at the time of ordinary Australians.

One theme that interested me was a Character called "Kierman". A Quaker or as they said at the time time "Family of Friends". He as an orderly the closest you would get to a male nurse during that period.

What interested me about him was his faith, or his acknowledgment of where he was at in a holistic way, from the horrors of war around him and how he interacted to it. Naomi one of the sisters and Kiermans fiancé had this to say about her experience :

"...or was it a genuine spiritual instinct of her own which made her feel that she could inhabit this silence? Other religions began with certainties and pronounced them from the start of their rituals. The Friends seemed to have no certainties and humbly waited for the voice to emerge. These people did not seem to anticipate or even feel sure that anything would grace them with a visit. That attracted her. She had never been in an uncertain Church before."

I write rather enviously of Naomi's experience!

It's a good book, one worth reading if you like Australian History or Australian Nursing history. His characters never let you down with there development on the intricacies which surround them.



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