The Pull of the Stars

By Emma Donoghue

Read by Pam Farrow

Publisher's notes

The Pull of the Stars is set during three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu in 1918. In an Ireland 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 the terrible new flu are quarantined. 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 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, caregivers and mothers alike, somehow do their impossible work.

Although she works in many genres, Emma Donoghue is best known for her fiction, which has been translated into over forty languages. Her many books and short stories have received awards and accolades in the UK, US and Canada.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Emma Donoghue is the youngest of eight children. In 1990, she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin and soon moved to England where she received her PhD at the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, Emma has earned her living as a writer, and according to her, she has been lucky enough to never have had an ‘honest job’ since being sacked from an unfortunate summer position as a chambermaid. In 1998, she settled in London, Ontario, where she now lives with her family.


Pam Farrow will read The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. Pam is an Architectural Technologist based in Dundalk who loves to read. You can check out her website to read more about her qualifications and offered services. Apropos for the times we currently find ourselves in, she has chosen to examine Donoghue's unsettling story set in a maternity ward in Dublin during the 1918 flu pandemic. She will represent Southgate.


BY PAM FARROW FOR SOUTHGREY.CA — If we think times are troubling with Covid 19, an immersion into this book is a stark reminder how very much worse it could be. This story is set in Dublin Ireland near the end of World War 1; the ache of the recent 6 Day Rising; the hope of vote for women all forming the wavering energy of the time. It focuses on a three day time frame during the darkest days of the influenza pandemic.

The story primarily plays out in a Catholic Hospital, where a specialized space has been established, having been carved out of storage room, creating a make shift maternity ward to separate those with the flue from those who are healthy.

Although the majority of characters are fiction, one particular character is based on a historically important figure. The author brilliantly sets stage, you can taste the fear, despair, the anguish as she weaves fact and fiction into this tale.

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