The Yinova Book Club’s selection for our March meeting is a novel that’s drawn attention for a startling relevance to current events.
Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue has received a number of literary awards since her career began in 1994, but her latest novel has earned a different distinction. The Pull of the Stars, set in Dublin during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic was rushed into print just four months after Donoghue submitted her final draft because the book anticipated so many of our own experiences with the current pandemic. It is a historical novel perfectly timed for contemporary readers.
This isn’t Donoghue’s first work to weave reality into fiction. She is perhaps best known for Room, a novel based loosely on a horrific true story. She adapted it herself for the film, which won Brie Larson an Oscar for Best Actress. Her 2000 novel, Slammerkin, was based on an 18th Century murder and The Sealed Letter was inspired by a notorious divorce case involving the admiral posted to Malta as the commander of the British Royal Navy base there.
Donoghue invented the character of her protagonist for The Pull of the Stars; Julia Power, a nurse-midwife, works in a tiny supply room pressed into service as a maternity ward for fever victims. One of her colleagues is an actual historical figure, Dr. Kathleen Lynne.
Lynne graduated from the Royal University in Ireland and worked in the United States before being appointed the first female physician at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital. She later founded Saint Ultan’s Children’s Hospital to provide care for mothers and children in the slums of Dublin.
An activist as well as a healer, Lynn was a leader of the Irish suffragette movement and joined the Irish Citizen Army to support independence. She became chief medical officer during the 1916 Easter Uprising and was imprisoned at Kilmainham Gaol when the British put down the rebellion.
Blending fact and fiction to tell a story that is a century old and yet brand new, The Pull of the Stars should make a fascinating choice for Yinova’s March book club meeting.
Join us on March 28th a 1 pm ET for a discussion on The Pull of the Stars. Our book club always offers a lively discussion, so please feel free to join us, even if you weren’t able to read the book in time. The discussion is free to attend – you can sign up here.