It’s 1917. Kate Moran is a graduate of Smith College and does not come from the world of privilege. After getting her degree with a scholarship, she is trying to earn a living when her friend Emmie Van Alden urges her to join a group of “Smithies” who will be traveling overseas to help in-need French villagers as World War I rages on. Kate decides to join the Smith College Relief Unit with her fellow alumni, a group of well-meaning women who had no real sense of the devastation and danger that awaited them.
In Band of Sisters, author Lauren Willig, inspired by the true story of this group of brave women, has created an engaging work of historical fiction. While the book is fiction, the characters are based on the actual women who served in this remarkable group. An exhaustive amount of research was done to bring a realistic sense of the conditions the French were experiencing after their towns and villages were destroyed and the danger that remained. But this book is less about the horrors of war than the relationships that develop among the women. Kate, Emmie and the strong cast of characters learned skills and realized inner strengths that would make them valuable assets during the war while rivalries and class differences threatened their ability to do their jobs.
I first discovered Lauren Willig in the wonderful books she has written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White and have gone on to read several of her individual works. As a wink to those who have enjoyed her collaborative books, eagle-eyed readers will spot a character (and setting) from their last book All the Ways We Said Goodbye, another don’t-miss book.
Many thanks to Edelweiss, William Morrow/HarperCollins and Lauren Willig for the opportunity to read an advance copy of Band of Sisters. At over 500 pages, prepare to spend some quality time with a group of women who lived over 100 years ago and with few rights of their own in society, truly made a difference.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 2, 2021.
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