Review: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (audio)

Title: The Pull of the Stars
Author: Emma Donoghue
Narrator: Emma Lowe
Published: July 2020, Hachette Audio
Length: 9 hours 6 minutes
Source: ALC via

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, a rumoured
Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie

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.


My thoughts: As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it but then for some reason, I just kept putting it off. I’ve read other books about the Spanish Influenza before, but I think reading about it while experiencing a pandemic myself is a different thing entirely. However, I’m really glad I finally picked it up because it was phenomenal!

I think what’s most interesting to note is that Emma Donoghue began writing this book well ahead of our current pandemic. She wrote it to honor the 100 year anniversary of the Spanish Influenza. The publication just happened to coincide with our pandemic, but I think it offers a unique perspective. Looking at how things were handled a hundred years ago when technology wasn’t like it is today and medical advances weren’t anywhere near what they are now. It really struck me in the similarities and differences as to how things have been handled.

This book really kept my attention from start to finish. It really drew me into the story and I felt that the characters were so fully fleshed out. This story takes place over the course of three days on a maternity ward and I could feel the fear and frustration that not only Nurse Julia felt during these harrowing times but also the patients. Not knowing how things were going to turn out, not knowing when help is going to arrive – it was all so palpable. It’s so easy to become caught up in these characters’ lives and feel their emotional journey.

This is a heartbreaking book but such a captivating story. You become so entangled in each and every one of the character’s lives that you cannot walk away until the end. You feel the strain on everyone, especially those tasked with caring for the sick, much like we are feeling in our own pandemic right now. If you can handle reading something so close to our reality, I highly recommend picking this book up. It is such an insightful and empowering read that certainly deserves to be celebrated!

Audio thoughts: This was a fantastic audiobook. Emma Lowe is a new-to-me narrator, but I thought she nailed this narration. Her accent was perfection, and her pacing and intonation were spot on. She really brought this book to life and I found myself completely invested in the way she told the story. I will definitely be looking forward to listening to more of Emma Lowe’s narrations.

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