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Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet these vivacious young women each have their own dreams for themselves: Edda wants to be a doctor, Tufts wants to organize everything, Grace won't be told what to do, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood, they are not enthusiastic about the limited prospects life holds for them.
Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses - a new option for women of their time who have previously been largely limited to the role of wives, and preferably mothers. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, they meet people and encounter challenges that spark new maturity and independence. They meet men from all walks of life - local farmers, their professional colleagues, and even men with national roles and reputations - and each sister must make weighty decisions about what she values most. The results are sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking, but always.... bittersweet.
Rendered with McCullough's trademark historical accuracy, this dramatic coming-of-age tale is wise in the ways of the human heart, one that will transport readers to a time in history that feels at once exotic and yet not so very distant from our own.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 09-04-14
I thought this book would be a historical novel about the changing role of nurses just after World War One and into the 1920s. The story is a tale of Edda, Grace Heather (Tufts) and Katherine (Kitty) two sets of twins. The story is set in the imagined Australian country town of Corunda. The novel underlines several of McCullough’s enormous strengths as a writer—superbly deft characterization, multiple plots that move apace, a warmth and generosity in the telling and dialogue sharp and at times funny.
The story starts in a country hospital, nurses and sisterly friendship. In those days a women’s was limited in a career choice. She could get married, be a teacher, a nun or a nurse. The four girls are educated and start a new three year nursing program to become an R. N. Australia has just adopted the new system requiring nurses to be educated and licensed. Edda wanted to be a physician but has to settle for a nurse. The story’s attraction is the dissection of Australian society during the great depression and the detailed exposure of sex discrimination and feminist struggles in the Australian style.
The book had my attention in the beginning with descriptions of the hospital and nursing techniques but unfortunately for me the book turned into a romance novel. I am not a fan of romance novels.
Colleen McCullough is Australia’s most successful author. She lives on Norfolk Island. I enjoyed her book “Thorn Birds” and her series on ancient Rome. Cat Gould did a good job narrating the book.
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