The Pull of the Stars

Emma Donoghue

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM.

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new 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 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 once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds. 

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) This story comes out of Ireland during the 1918 flu pandemic. I thought listening to a book about a pandemic would be a bad idea but I was able to connect to the story because of it. I understood the fear behind the coughing and the mentality behind distancing yourself.

We follow Julia through a few shifts in the maternity ward. Women come in pregnant and infected with the flu and there is a roller coaster of emotions as each person’s story plays out. It is very detailed. Let me say now, that if you are squeamish about any sort of medical procedures or blood, this book is not for you. It details what the nurse is doing but also what is happening to each patient. That includes births, deaths, bathroom functions and flu details to name a few. Some of it was difficult to hear. There are deaths and many difficulties, including the babies. While that was emotionally taxing, if I focused on the procedure and the differences in medical techniques, I found myself intrigued with the hour to hour aspect of her shift.

Very little of the story was held outside the hospital. We do get to meet Julia’s brother who has come home from the war, mute. I would have liked more info on him and his story or even more about the war. There are a few more characters, one who becomes very close to Julia and they have a small romance. This woman has lived a very difficult life. She was abused sexually and tells many stories of orphans and children (including herself), that have been mistreated or unwed mother’s having their child taken away.

The historical aspect of this book was interesting to hear but the story lagged a bit and didn’t keep my interest fully. I loved the ending however, and I thought that was the perfect conclusion to such a difficult story.

The content was minimal on language and there was a small romance between two women. The medical procedures and deaths could be difficult for some as they are once again, very detailed.

Thank you to Libro.Fm and HarperAvenue for the ALC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out July 21, 2020.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 


  1. Historical Fiction is a genre that I REALLY want to get into reading more of! I’ll definitely be adding this one to my TBR!

  2. As someone who works in a hospital, I don’t like to read books set in hospitals. It feels like work haha. I do love books about pandemics though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.