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A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig. A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig. A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit. Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.  Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit. With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?  


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A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig. A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig. A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit. Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.  Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit. With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?  

30 review for Band of Sisters

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig (Author), Julia Whelan (Narrator) I have to praise the narration of this story because it was so good. Julia Whelan does snide, droll, and snarky to perfection and I have no idea if I would have read all of that into this story if I hadn't listened to the audio. Those inflections are so important to the characters. Knowing the hardships these women faced, I think their sense of humor and irony must have helped some of them push forward under impossible odds.  This Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig (Author), Julia Whelan (Narrator) I have to praise the narration of this story because it was so good. Julia Whelan does snide, droll, and snarky to perfection and I have no idea if I would have read all of that into this story if I hadn't listened to the audio. Those inflections are so important to the characters. Knowing the hardships these women faced, I think their sense of humor and irony must have helped some of them push forward under impossible odds.  This story is based on real life events that took place during WWI. In fact, many of the events have been gleaned from letters written by the women who were a part of the Smith College Relief Unit who volunteered to go to France to help villagers whose lives had been decimated by the German army. The group of eighteen women set up camp on the property of a bombed out chateau right behind the front lines. The women are helping villagers that live in the muddy, roofless basements of stables and houses. The people are sleeping in mud, have little to no food, ragged clothing, missing and dead family and friends, with sickness and injuries that haven't been treated. When the women signed up for this work they had no idea of the heartache and devastation that they would be facing. But most of the women set to work to do what they can for these people, with almost no resources and knowing that the British army doesn't want them there, just a few miles behind the front lines.  We follow Kate, Emmie, and Julia most closely. Kate, who went to Smith on a scholarship and has always felt less than the other women because her mother scrubbed floors to support herself and her daughter. Six years ago a friend taught Kate to drive a vehicle and now she's with the group as a chauffeur, hoping she can figure out how to drive a truck, not knowing she and her companions will actually have to uncrate and put together the truck before she can ever drive it.  Perky, naïve, always optimistic, Emmie, who thinks that her only worth is that her mother is wealthy. Julia, Emmie's poor cousin, who has now worked her way to becoming a doctor, despite the fact that she is a woman. The subject matter is so serious but also very funny. Most of the events in the book really happened and the author learned about them through the letters the women wrote home, often asking that the letters not be shared with the public. Instead, many of the letters were passed on by proud family members, to be published, saving the events of this time for posterity.  Most of the events in the book really happened and the author learned about them through these letters written by the Smith women. The mess, the muck, the life with chickens (or horror, roosters!), the refusing to leave the front lines because the women were determined to evacuate and help as many of the villagers that they could help, for as long as they could, all these things really happened and I felt like I was right there. As hard as it was to read this story, a part of me wanted to stay with these brave women. For that reason, I'll be doing a lot of research on them, because I want to learn more about the things that they accomplished. This is what I like about good historical fiction, when I can see history through the eyes of the people who lived it and then want to learn even more about that time in our history. Publication March 2, 2021 Thank you to Harper Audio and NetGalley for this ARC. 

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I won this book from William Morrow/Harper Collins in a GoodReads giveaway. Thank You William Morrow. This book is a long book, 519 pages, but it it is worthwhile sticking through to the end and deserves a full 4 stars. The first 100 pages move slowly, but the conclusion makes up for it. My wife read this book before me and found the ending to be very satisfying The book is based upon a true story. There was a group of Smith College American women who volunteered to go the front lines in France i I won this book from William Morrow/Harper Collins in a GoodReads giveaway. Thank You William Morrow. This book is a long book, 519 pages, but it it is worthwhile sticking through to the end and deserves a full 4 stars. The first 100 pages move slowly, but the conclusion makes up for it. My wife read this book before me and found the ending to be very satisfying The book is based upon a true story. There was a group of Smith College American women who volunteered to go the front lines in France in the summer of 1917. They had to be evacuated during the German renewed push on Paris in the spring /summer 1918. They performed heroically, accomplishing incredible feats of caring for French villagers who had had their homes destroyed by German invaders. Much of the book is based upon surviving letters written by the Smith volunteers, although the characters are fictional. Many of the incidents described in the book actually did take place. If you want to read historical fiction with women performing heroic deeds with a little romance and some backstabbing intrigue then you will enjoy this book. Two quotes: Liza, a rather naive Smith volunteer, describing a French brothel: "I've heard it's all a German plot. They're getting French loose women to seduce our troops to undermine the health of the American Army." Kate, Assistant Director, describing a French General: "This office was the grandest of the many offices that Kate had processed today. The desk was roughly the size of the SS Rochambeau and the man who sat behind it was wearing a dazzling array of medals. He'd been so decorated that his medals had medals."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** I love historical fiction and the premise for this sounded very good! It was great to take a break from WW2 and this story is quite a special one. While WW1 was still raging a group of young women from Smith college wanted to do more than just knit socks or make bandages. They formed the Smith College Relief Unit, made their way to France and sought out the villages that were heavily bombed. Through their efforts they were able to help many women and children get the ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** I love historical fiction and the premise for this sounded very good! It was great to take a break from WW2 and this story is quite a special one. While WW1 was still raging a group of young women from Smith college wanted to do more than just knit socks or make bandages. They formed the Smith College Relief Unit, made their way to France and sought out the villages that were heavily bombed. Through their efforts they were able to help many women and children get the aid that they needed to get them back to where they could once again raise livestock and farm for themselves. While the story is a good one I had some real issues with it. The main character, Kate, was hard to connect to. She had lots of preconceived ideas about the other women in the unit. She was a scholarship student and always felt looked down upon. As the story progresses she did grow as a character but I felt that it was a slow and arduous task for the reader. There is a large cast of characters in this book. We really don’t get to know them all well with the exception of Kate and Emmeline. The girls were from different backgrounds and all had a story to tell, but it was a lot to take in and to keep them all straight. I enjoyed Emmie the most as she was such a kind and caring person, always trying to help others without concern for herself. There is a lot of back and forth chatter between the girls and more romance than was needed. I felt that this lessened the seriousness of the story and added far more pages to this novel which could perhaps have been edited back from the 528 pages. This novel is based on extensive research and correspondence from many of the girls in the unit during the unit’s stay in France. The author’s notes are extensive and informative and added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. If you don’t mind a slower paced novel, this book might be the right one for you. This book is set to publish on March 2, 2021. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Lauren Willig has done it again! I have read a few books by Lauren Willig and have enjoyed them all. Band of Sisters was no exception. She started researching something entirely different when she accidentally stumbled upon letters and journal articles written by women who were members of the Smith College Relief Unit stationed in France during World War I. Her interest was piqued and the seeds for Band of Sisters were planted and started to cultivate. Band of Sisters was based on the true story Lauren Willig has done it again! I have read a few books by Lauren Willig and have enjoyed them all. Band of Sisters was no exception. She started researching something entirely different when she accidentally stumbled upon letters and journal articles written by women who were members of the Smith College Relief Unit stationed in France during World War I. Her interest was piqued and the seeds for Band of Sisters were planted and started to cultivate. Band of Sisters was based on the true story and events of eighteen incredible, determined, and courageous Smith College alumni women. I listened to Band of Sisters as an audiobook read by Julia Whelan. Most of the characters in Band of Sisters were based on the actual women of the unit. There were a few characters that were purely part of the author’s creativity and imagination. The combination of the two made the book believable and added a little favor. Kate Moran attended Smith College on a full scholarship. She had grown up in Brooklyn, New York. Her family was far from what might be considered well off or well connected as most of the Smith College students were. Kate had never felt comfortable at Smith College or that she fit in. She had one true friend, Emmeline Van Alden. After graduation from Smith College, Kate secured a teaching position. Kate and Emmeline, or Emmie as everyone called her, kept in touch through mail. As the years progressed, their letters became less frequent and shorter and shorter in length. In April 1917, Miss Betsy Rutherford, an archeologist and humanitarian, gave a very enthusiastic speech at the Smith College Club. In record time, Miss Rutherford accumulated enough volunteers, funding, backing and supplies to launch the formation of the Smith College Relief Unit. Emmie was determined to convince Kate to join the unit. One of the members had backed out and Emmie begged Kate to take her place. Reluctantly, Kate finally agreed. Little did she realize how much her life was about to change from this experience. The unit arrived in Paris in July 1917 to find out that half of the inn they were to stay in had burned and was a big pile of ruins. There also were not enough rooms for all the girls in their unit. One of the members of the unit convinced the proprietor to house them dormitory style in the attic. At least they were all kept together. When they arrived at their final destination, their challenges would only begin to occur. The women who were to become the drivers for the unit, had to actually build their own vehicles from scratch. This was more than any of the women had bargained for. Nothing could have prepared the for the challenges the were about to face. Their agriculturist was delayed so the woman filling in for her, having little prior experience with farm animals before arriving in France, bought roosters instead of hens. No wonder why there were no eggs! They set out to build libraries with lots of books for the children, schools, and houses. The women provided food, milk and medical supplies to the people in the villages. There were two female doctors that were also part of the eighteen women in their unit. They all wore uniforms that were gray with a touch of French blue. One time a group of the women went to one of the nearby towns. They were greeted by a group of children. Someone threw a ball to one of the children and a child began to cry uncontrollably. The ball had been mistaken for a bomb. The children had gone through so much and had seen things that no child should have had to witness. When France became very dangerous with the imminent invasion of Germany, the women of the Smith College Relief Unit were told to evacuate. They ignored the warnings and instead drove into danger to the surrounding towns and villages to help evacuate those in the most danger from the Germans. All of these things really happened. What incredible and strong women they were. What a difference they made in the lives of those they were able to help. The women were always up for the challenge and always went the extra yard to make it happen. All the women from the Smith College Relief Unit survived the war. This was an incredible story about bravery, determination, kindness, friendship, love, thinking outside the box, courage and strong women. I was so glad to have learned about these women and their involvement in the war effort. They should be commended. Band of Sisters will be published in March 2021. Thank you to Harper Audio for allowing me to listen to Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig through Netgalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Katherine Moran lived in poverty as a child in Brooklyn, she won a scholarship to study at the prestigious Smith College for women and she never felt like she fitted in because all the other girls came from wealthy families. In 1917 a fellow Smith girl Betsy Rutherford is looking for volunteers to help displaced women and children living in appalling conditions in France. Kate’s former friend Emmie Van Alden convinces her to go, she’s one of eighteen women who join a group called the Smith Colle Katherine Moran lived in poverty as a child in Brooklyn, she won a scholarship to study at the prestigious Smith College for women and she never felt like she fitted in because all the other girls came from wealthy families. In 1917 a fellow Smith girl Betsy Rutherford is looking for volunteers to help displaced women and children living in appalling conditions in France. Kate’s former friend Emmie Van Alden convinces her to go, she’s one of eighteen women who join a group called the Smith College Relief Unit and her experiences in France will finally make Kate feel she did belong at the college and she deserved her scholarship. The women set sail for France, once they arrived in Paris they discover it’s a very crowded city and country is consumed by the war. When they finally arrive at the Chateau it’s in ruins and what hasn’t been damaged by the war had been vandalized by the German army and it’s inhabitable. Women, children and the elderly are living in terrible conditions and many are living underground in cellars, hungry and filthy. Band Of Sisters is based on true story about an extraordinary group of women, they endured dreadful conditions, worked long hours and while being under fire from the nasty Boche and witness firsthand how much the French women and children suffered during The Great War. They provided shelter from the harsh elements, food, emotional support, medical care and milk and education for the children. The suffering of the French people during WW I was unimaginable, the women from the Smith College Relief Unit really made a remarkable difference and it’s an exceptional wartime story that needed to be shared. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, an outstanding and well written book by Lauren Willig and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    Kate Moran, a Smith College alumnus and former scholarship student, has graduated and is trying to earn her living when she is contacted by her best friend Emmeline Van Alden. She is asked to join a group of Smith alumni who are going to help French civilians during World War I. She can't imagine being able to go, but when she is asked to take the place of a girl who dropped out, she agrees. The Smith group meets a scene of devastation far worse than they ever imagined, but they pitch in and do Kate Moran, a Smith College alumnus and former scholarship student, has graduated and is trying to earn her living when she is contacted by her best friend Emmeline Van Alden. She is asked to join a group of Smith alumni who are going to help French civilians during World War I. She can't imagine being able to go, but when she is asked to take the place of a girl who dropped out, she agrees. The Smith group meets a scene of devastation far worse than they ever imagined, but they pitch in and do their best to help. Along they way, they are shelled by the enemy and hampered by bureaucracy at every turn. Kate and the others learn to face and beat these challenges and more. But Kate's biggest challenge may be learning to trust her fellow Smithies and rising beyond the label of "scholarship girl." This is a well written novel based on the true story of the Smith College Relief Fund and their work in France during World War I. Each chapter starts with an actual letter from one of the alumni. Some of the events described in these letters are incorporated into the book. The characters are well developed and interesting The concept of class in the midst of war is fascinating. Will the privileged hang on to their prejudices while people are suffering and the Kaiser is trying to kill them all? Willig expertly, through her well-crafted characters, shows the conflicts between classes and shows that people are not always as they seem. In many different ways, Willig reveals Kate’s struggles to see the truth about herself through her own eyes and not her perceptions of what others might be thinking. A little humor and a love story are also threaded nto this captivating tale, which fans of historical fiction and World War I fiction will enjoy. I received a free copy of this book from William Morrow and Custom House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ink_Drinker

    I listened to the audio book of Band of Sisters and have to commend the narration by Julia Whelan!!! She captured the character of the women of Smith College to perfection and I felt like it really added depth to the story telling. I read a lot of Historical Fiction set in WWII, so I was highly anticipating reading this WWI era book. The story is based on real life events told through letters written by the 18 alumni of Smith College who risked their lives in France to help villagers whose lives I listened to the audio book of Band of Sisters and have to commend the narration by Julia Whelan!!! She captured the character of the women of Smith College to perfection and I felt like it really added depth to the story telling. I read a lot of Historical Fiction set in WWII, so I was highly anticipating reading this WWI era book. The story is based on real life events told through letters written by the 18 alumni of Smith College who risked their lives in France to help villagers whose lives had been destroyed by the German army. These women are now known as the Band of Sisters from the Smith College Relief Unit. None of the women knew what they were actually signing up for when they volunteered to go to France....how could they even imagine facing such poor living conditions, the lack of resources and food, the missing and dead family members, the sickness and injuries of so many villagers. These brave women set up camp in a bombed-out chateau right behind the front line and went to work to do what they could to help the people in the village with little to no support from the British army. The story is told in such detail that you actually feel like you are on the front line with these dedicated Smith women facing the struggles, horrors and triumphs they faced together. I love reading unknown stories and this was an incredible one! It is a significant part of our history, one that might never have been told if it wasn't for Lauren Willig and should be read by any history enthusiast. It is a story that will stay with you long after you read it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Those Smith girls must have been very good letter writers! Lauren Willig discovered a memoir that one of the girls wrote about their time in France during WW I. She was so taken with the account that she used the letters written to their loved ones back home to write this book. Although all the characters in this little band are fictional, they are based on real people AND what I loved the most is that the many adventures this group had in the book are based on real life as well. An engaging ble Those Smith girls must have been very good letter writers! Lauren Willig discovered a memoir that one of the girls wrote about their time in France during WW I. She was so taken with the account that she used the letters written to their loved ones back home to write this book. Although all the characters in this little band are fictional, they are based on real people AND what I loved the most is that the many adventures this group had in the book are based on real life as well. An engaging blend of history and fiction that sheds light on a group of women who did amazing things to help the French villages unfortunate enough to be stationed near the front. Many were destroyed at least twice and had to rebuild. I listened to this on audio (thank you, Harper Audio and NetGalley). This book will make you both laugh and cry. I especially enjoyed the letter excerpts before each chapter as they are so revealing of social conventions from that era. My opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig Pub Date: March 2, 2021 The Women of Smith College Go to War. An incredible sweeping tale of bravery, sisterhood and friendship set amid the challenges of World War I. A simply wonderful tale of She-roes! Based on the true story of a group of women from the Smith College Relief Unit who went to France during World War I. Eighteen “Smithies” went to France in 1917 to do good deeds where they could, not fully knowing what lay in front of them. Based on real people and e Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig Pub Date: March 2, 2021 The Women of Smith College Go to War. An incredible sweeping tale of bravery, sisterhood and friendship set amid the challenges of World War I. A simply wonderful tale of She-roes! Based on the true story of a group of women from the Smith College Relief Unit who went to France during World War I. Eighteen “Smithies” went to France in 1917 to do good deeds where they could, not fully knowing what lay in front of them. Based on real people and events, this outstanding novel follows these eighteen women of the Smith College Relief Unit. Each chapter begins with a short letter written by one of the Smithies to their loved ones at home. Old college personas and feelings remain as Kate, the former scholarship student, still feels awkward with her Mayflower descended wealthy fellow students. Willig so aptly taps into all of our lingering college insecurities. A doctor on their voyage over says, “You are just the right sort, not neurasthenic enthusiasts, but with a natural dignity and modesty without prejudice.” To which Maud, one of the Smithies, defines neurasthenic as “barmy, a fabulous old English term which roughly translates to mad or crazy. “Emmi did her best to look dignified and modest but wondered just how Dr. Van Dyke would know. Hadn’t they seen Miss Patton’s sherry flask or Miss Cooper’s hunched shoulders? Or maybe they were right, and Emmie was wrong, and this was all completely natural and normal when one was entering a war zone, and not the least – neurasthenic.” The vivid character development with individual idiosyncrasies make each woman stand out. From the indomitable Mrs. Rutherford to two female doctors, each woman is so well defined that you feel as if you know them. Emmeline Van Alden, Emmi as she is known, is a wonderful uber wealthy woman who is naïve in many ways but masterful in her genuineness, easily gaining French villager trust. She aptly teaches French children to play again after years of war, attempts to raise chickens and cows and generally appeals to all with genuine naivety and candy. Emmi’s warmth, unbelievable work ethic, endearing personal awkwardness and propensity to quote historical literary works makes her so perfectly imperfect. And when Emmi meets a British soldier and they commence an awkward but wonderful wartime correspondence based mostly upon quotes from old English literature, you can’t help but be enchanted. Willig’s love of Renaissance literature shines throughout this novel. Kate Moran, Emmi’s college best friend, reluctantly joins the unit and quickly becomes a leader in their group. Kate is one of drivers who must learn to maneuver a persnickety Ford Jitney and other wartime vehicles. Kate emerges as the Felix to Emmi’s Oscar or the Shirley to Emmi’s Laverne. Where Emmi is one big hug of a woman, Kate is reserved but keenly observant and routinely saves her fellow Smithies from danger and is a complicated yet wonderful woman who unusually befriends a wonderful young girl. Willig’s writing makes the story fly by as you root for these women to succeed and hold your breath during moments of severe wartime danger. The Smithies saved numerous French families from hunger and perhaps death and they ably transported hundred to safety when the Germans were rapidly approaching. Band of Sisters highlights the enduring strength of female friendships with a small dollop of romance, cows and chickens. Told with Lauren Willig dry wit and meticulous research, Band of Sisters is a gem that will stay with you long after you read it. Huge thanks to William Morrow for the advance copy. I loved it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    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 a 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 threaten 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 her individual works as well. 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 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Band of Sisters was a such a fun book to dive into. Without knowing, I got to dive into a story that ended up being true. I also got to meet some pretty wonderful characters that lived in France during the World War I. In it, you will meet Kate Moran. She is from Brooklyn, NY and went to Smith College on a full scholarship. Then you will meet Emmie, who became her true friend in college. Although after they graduate, they t I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Band of Sisters was a such a fun book to dive into. Without knowing, I got to dive into a story that ended up being true. I also got to meet some pretty wonderful characters that lived in France during the World War I. In it, you will meet Kate Moran. She is from Brooklyn, NY and went to Smith College on a full scholarship. Then you will meet Emmie, who became her true friend in college. Although after they graduate, they tried to write to one another whenever they could. Not long after, they are reunited. From that moment, Kate's life has changed forever. So much happens along this journey that I had to stop and think about it all. Some of it was sad and I almost drop a tear or two. Others were pretty interesting to hear about since I wasn't alive back then and I don't remember much from my history classes in high school or college. These girls showed so much bravery throughout the book. Even if they knew something was beyond dangerous, they still went into it without hesitation. It was amazing to read about and I am so happy that I got the chance to dive into this book. Now I feel like I need to dive into more historical fictions books when it comes to NetGalley.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pam Jenoff

    This is a remarkable story of the Smith College Relief Unit, a group of young women who went to France during World War I to offer assistance -- and it is out today!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lian Dolan

    Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig lifted up my spirits, not easy to do in the waning days of 2020 and with a story set in wartime. But Band of Sisters delivers on all fronts: fascinating historical details about World War 1 and an intrepid group of American college women; complex fictional female characters that ground the story and genuinely develop; succinct observations on how class, religion, and education shape relationships; and finally, that true sisterhood is messy but lasting. Lauren Wil Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig lifted up my spirits, not easy to do in the waning days of 2020 and with a story set in wartime. But Band of Sisters delivers on all fronts: fascinating historical details about World War 1 and an intrepid group of American college women; complex fictional female characters that ground the story and genuinely develop; succinct observations on how class, religion, and education shape relationships; and finally, that true sisterhood is messy but lasting. Lauren Willig creates a compelling narrative based on the true story of a group of Smith graduates who arrived in France in the middle of the war to do good works for the people of France, not the American troops. I loved diving into this little-known story about a war that doesn't get equal shelf space to World War II. Will be recommending on Satellite Sisters. An excellent book club choice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Lauren Willig is an established author, but she is new to me. Band of Sisters, her newest release, has made me a fan. I read it free and early, and my thanks go to Net Galley, William Morrow, and Harper Audio for the review copies. It will be available to the public March 2, 2021. A group of Smith College alumni sail to France on a mission to help civilians suffering extreme deprivation during World War I. “They carry money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray,” says Lauren Willig is an established author, but she is new to me. Band of Sisters, her newest release, has made me a fan. I read it free and early, and my thanks go to Net Galley, William Morrow, and Harper Audio for the review copies. It will be available to the public March 2, 2021. A group of Smith College alumni sail to France on a mission to help civilians suffering extreme deprivation during World War I. “They carry money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray,” says the promotional blurb, and that’s what happens. It’s hard to make plans when you don’t know which way the battle may turn or where bombs may fall, but these are plucky women, two doctors among them, and several of them are members of wealthy, influential American families as well. The story is based on actual women and events, and the teacher in me wishes I were still in the classroom and able to order sets of this excellent novel to share with honors students, girls especially, who need to see more of themselves in the study of American history. Our two protagonists are Kate and Emmie, best friends and roommates a decade ago, united in this adventure. Kate is the only woman among the “Smithies” that doesn’t come from money and that doesn’t pay her own way; she is led to believe no one else paid their own way, either, but it isn’t true. And this is a chewy, inviting historical truth that we don’t see often in fiction. Though social class divisions are every bit as present and sharp today, assumptions made by most Americans have become more generous. During the early years of the twentieth century, there was a widely held belief that rich people were better in other ways as well, whether they had earned their fortunes or inherited them. They considered themselves to be God’s own chosen ones, and their wealth was one more sign that the Almighty loved them a bit more than others. Poverty was considered shameful, a thing to be concealed; there were no government funds of any kind to help the poor, and if there had been, women like Kate would have just about died before accepting them. Taking charitable contributions was a sign of personal failure and possibly dishonesty to most people back then. And the truth is, Kate isn’t impoverished, and she surely hasn’t failed at anything, but she has to work to earn her living, a thing most Caucasian women in the U.S. didn’t do in 1917. She is horrified when, midway through our narrative, she learns the truth about her travel expenses, and this creates one of the crises within the story. Willig is a fine novelist. The pace never flags, and there’s never a moment of revisionism that makes me blink. She is true to the time period and the characters. Emmie’s character is a harder sell, to my way of thinking, because she comes from tremendous wealth, but her family has made her feel unworthy because of her physical appearance, and by the end of the book, I love Emmie as much as I do Kate. I’ve plucked a sample for you, a scene in which Kate and Emmie are evacuating an area which is being overrun by the Germans: [Kate] wanted Mrs. Barrett; she wanted Dr. Stringfellow; she wanted anyone who could tell them what to do and where to go. Grecourt looked different already, the anemones churned up by the tread of two hundred soldiers, tents dotted around the lawn, Maybe, if she closed her eyes and wished hard enough, she could make it a week ago; the ground bright with flowers; slipping into story time and holding Zelie on her lap while Nell read to the basse-cour children in French about little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, joking with the unit around the supper table about their amazing ability differentiate between types of guns. But it wasn’t a week ago. The Big Bad Wolf was here, he was on the march, with his big, big teeth and big, big guns, and maybe she wasn’t the best the Unit could have, but she was what they had right now. By the time we reach this part of the story, I could not stop reading if I wanted to. It would have been impossible. The hardest characters for many writers are the children, and although we have no child protagonists, there are numerous scenes in which children play a part. How does a child act when he is traumatized by war? Willig is in perfect form here as well. I received both the digital review copy and the audio, and I used them both. At the beginning there are so many women introduced to us at once that I felt lost with just the audio, and so I listened and read along to keep track. The narrator, Julia Whelan, does a superb job with a challenging manuscript, changing her tone and point of view to let us know which woman’s point of view we are hearing. My only concern regarding the audio version—which is much easier to follow once you have learned the most important characters—is that the story begins with a lengthy list of the women that participated, and it’s not great to listen to. I recommend you fast forward the audio to somewhere between five and seven percent, and then dive in. I requested this galley because a number of Goodreads friends whose opinions I respect recommended it to me, and all of them were absolutely right. This book is a gem, and I highly recommend it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thelma

    As a big fan of WW2 books and stories I really wanted to like Band of Sisters, I was determined to like it so I listened to the whole book including the last pages where the author explains all the details where she found the inspiration for the story and what facts were real or just a creation but unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy the book it was not what I was expecting but that doesn't mean it is not a good story, I just felt so lost at all times maybe because I was expecting a more dramat As a big fan of WW2 books and stories I really wanted to like Band of Sisters, I was determined to like it so I listened to the whole book including the last pages where the author explains all the details where she found the inspiration for the story and what facts were real or just a creation but unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy the book it was not what I was expecting but that doesn't mean it is not a good story, I just felt so lost at all times maybe because I was expecting a more dramatic scenario and experiences for the characters. Band of Sisters was very light for me, I really felt like I was in the women's bathroom listening to all the chit chat and drama of a group of friends, I enjoy it because of that, because it felt like a group of a friend got together and were narrating their lives in the War but without the fear or the drama more like gossip or like I said like a chit chat conversation. I did like the main characters Kate and Emmeline but at times Kate was very stubborn and kind of insecure she felt less than at all times even if she never said a thing but she constantly felt that way, as if her best friend, was more entitle but at the end as every women drama it was just a misunderstanding or better said miss communication. The friendship between Kate and Emmeline was great but Kate usually was the one making problems with her doubting and insecurities at least that's what I felt like she was always looking to complain or to chastise her best friend but I love when they finally understood what they were not really saying or making to improve their situation. Overall it was a good book, it was just me that I was expecting more for such a long story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    Lauren Willig is a masterful hf writer, and BAND OF SISTERS is her best novel yet! Based on a true but little-known story of Smith College women who join forces to help during WWI. They form the Smith College Relief Unit, sail to France in 1917, bringing supplies and money and two female doctors, only to find themselves in ... HELL! Shells fly, smoke rises from ruins, terror grows as the Germans draw nearer. War in all its horrors, made worse by French red tape, British distrust, and group infigh Lauren Willig is a masterful hf writer, and BAND OF SISTERS is her best novel yet! Based on a true but little-known story of Smith College women who join forces to help during WWI. They form the Smith College Relief Unit, sail to France in 1917, bringing supplies and money and two female doctors, only to find themselves in ... HELL! Shells fly, smoke rises from ruins, terror grows as the Germans draw nearer. War in all its horrors, made worse by French red tape, British distrust, and group infighting. You’ll cheer as the Smith women overcome these obstacles to bring hope and succor to destitute villagers, saving lives as they fight for their own, becoming a fierce BAND OF SISTERS. A must-read for hf lovers intrigued by WWI and courageous women. I loved it! 5 of 5 Stars Pub Date 02 Mar 2021 #BandofSisters #NetGalley Thanks to the author, William Morrow and Custom House, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann Mah

    I finished this book a few weeks ago and I've been missing the characters ever since. Band of Sisters is an inspiring tale of adventure about a group of Smith graduates volunteering in France during WWI. It's filled with good deeds but never preachy, the characters are courageous but never plucky. This is the perfect story to inspire people to take action and help people. I finished this book a few weeks ago and I've been missing the characters ever since. Band of Sisters is an inspiring tale of adventure about a group of Smith graduates volunteering in France during WWI. It's filled with good deeds but never preachy, the characters are courageous but never plucky. This is the perfect story to inspire people to take action and help people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    What a joy this was to listen to. Wow! I haven’t read a lot about WW1 but this was a very different look at it. I had no idea American college women went to France to help. I just wanted to hug this book when I finished it. I loved it. Julia Whelan was the narrator and she was awesome. She always does a spectacular job and she didn’t disappoint this time either. I loved seeing these mismatch, sometimes insecure, vulnerable women come together. I saw how God used these brave women. And they were What a joy this was to listen to. Wow! I haven’t read a lot about WW1 but this was a very different look at it. I had no idea American college women went to France to help. I just wanted to hug this book when I finished it. I loved it. Julia Whelan was the narrator and she was awesome. She always does a spectacular job and she didn’t disappoint this time either. I loved seeing these mismatch, sometimes insecure, vulnerable women come together. I saw how God used these brave women. And they were brave even if they didn’t know it at the time. At 86% I realized I was holding my breath and I don’t think I started breathing again until I got to the end! The characters leap off the page with their human strengths, weaknesses, and foibles. I highly recommend this book and thinks it’s one of the best things I’ve listened to this year! Thank you Harper Audio for this wonderful audiobook via Netgalley. I’ve voluntarily given my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Poignant, affecting, and incredibly immersive! Band of Sisters is an absorbing, stirring tale set in German-Occupied France during WWI that follows seventeen young American women from Smith College as they embark on a mission that doesn’t quite go as smoothly as planned, to befriend and use their own unique skillsets to provide relief, food, medical care, and education to the villagers whose lives have been decimated by war. The prose is seamless and vivid. The characters are courageous, driven, a Poignant, affecting, and incredibly immersive! Band of Sisters is an absorbing, stirring tale set in German-Occupied France during WWI that follows seventeen young American women from Smith College as they embark on a mission that doesn’t quite go as smoothly as planned, to befriend and use their own unique skillsets to provide relief, food, medical care, and education to the villagers whose lives have been decimated by war. The prose is seamless and vivid. The characters are courageous, driven, and resilient. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel into a sweeping saga of life, loss, secrets, insecurities, self-discovery, heartbreak, determination, survival, tragedy, and friendship. Overall, Band of Sisters is a rich, evocative, beautifully written novel by Willig that grabs you from the very first page and is sure to be a big hit with book clubs and historical fiction fans everywhere. I absolutely devoured it, and it is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year! Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I enjoy historical fiction most when the story is one that I am unfamiliar with, and it is based on real people. In this vein, author Lauren Willig introduces the reader to The Smith College Relief Unit, a group of women from the Smith College in the United States who volunteered to go into the Somme in France during WWI, working to help French viilagers displaced during the war in her novel "Band of Sisters". These young women, who didn't even have the right to vote yet, got on a ship to cross I enjoy historical fiction most when the story is one that I am unfamiliar with, and it is based on real people. In this vein, author Lauren Willig introduces the reader to The Smith College Relief Unit, a group of women from the Smith College in the United States who volunteered to go into the Somme in France during WWI, working to help French viilagers displaced during the war in her novel "Band of Sisters". These young women, who didn't even have the right to vote yet, got on a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean to go to a war zone, to help people they didn't know. Willig discovered this in a memoir titled "Ladies of Grecourt" by Ruth Gaines, a member of the unit. Then she found a cache of letters and journals written by the young women of the unit. Many of the stories in those letters ended up fictionalized in this fascinating novel that I could not put down. I got so caught up in the individual stories of these interesting young woman, like Kate, the Irish young woman, a school teacher who was recruited by Emmie, her former roommate at Smith. Julia, Emmie's cousin, is a doctor with a serious demeanor. Mrs. Rutherford is the formidiable woman who was the driving force behind this enterprise. Mrs. Rutherford told the ladies that they will be planting food, helping to build new shelters and schools, whatever was needed. The women drove huge trucks, learned how to give first aid, procured supplies by any means they could, and figured out how to get it to the people who needed it. They did all that and more in a time before Excel spreadsheets and Google docs, and did it in extremely uncomfortable clothing. Willig drops the reader right into the war zone along with these brave, enterprising women. We see them at the best, working together to help people who were much worse off than they were led to believe, and at their worst, as close quarters during a crisis can cause some people's behavior to deteriorate. When the war comes to their doorstep, the tension rachets up as the women work to save as many villagers as they can. I bit my nails to the quick as I was reading this section. I also enjoyed the callback to the most recent novel by Lauren Willig, Beatriz Williams and Karen White, "All The Ways We Said Goodbye", with a character and setting from that collaboration making an appearance here. Readers of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series should definitely put "Band of Sisters" on their TBR list and preorder it now. I only wish it were coming out in time for Christmas so I could give it as holiday gifts; I know so many women who would love this book. I guess it will be in Easter baskets in 2021. This is Lauren Willig's best book yet, I can't wait to see what research she stumbles upon for her next book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    2.75 stars I really, really wanted to love this historical women’s fiction. The description was interesting and the reviews, so far, promising...but it was just a so-so read for me. It takes place during WW1, and is based on a true story, which drew me in. I’ve read an abundance of WW2 stories of late so was looking for something different. The start of the book was engaging, learning about the women from Smith College Relief Unit and their journey to France to volunteer to help the French civil 2.75 stars I really, really wanted to love this historical women’s fiction. The description was interesting and the reviews, so far, promising...but it was just a so-so read for me. It takes place during WW1, and is based on a true story, which drew me in. I’ve read an abundance of WW2 stories of late so was looking for something different. The start of the book was engaging, learning about the women from Smith College Relief Unit and their journey to France to volunteer to help the French civilians as WW1 raged on. Despite poor and dangerous living conditions with war literally on their front doorstep, these women came together despite their differences to help. The plot explored their bravery and accomplishments but also the challenges they faced. The story is told in 3rd person and primarily revolves around the MC Kate. I wanted to connect with Kate and her fellow volunteers but couldn’t. It was difficult to feel anything towards the characters, the plot or even the setting. There were some detailed descriptions about the soldiers injured in the war and interesting details about the impact of the war on people, but again, just couldn’t feel anything. I will add that the narrative itself is quite remarkable. The fact that these women risked their lives to help people despite being told to evacuate. And the good that they did while in France was impressive. Just wish I had been able to connect better with the story. I listened to the audio version and it was okay. The narrator’s performance was a bit flat but her voice captured the essence of the story. Thank you to Harper Audio and Netgalley for an advanced audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is WWI Historical Fiction set in France. I liked the story line. The MCs were extremely likable and they were driven to help ease the suffering of those caught in the war torn country side. I also liked how they progressed from privileged (and somewhat pampered) Americans to those who could handle what war threw at them. Now, as always, with that said this wasn't really for me. It was super fluffy for being WWI Historical Fiction. Sometimes that is what I'm in the mood for...sometimes not. This is WWI Historical Fiction set in France. I liked the story line. The MCs were extremely likable and they were driven to help ease the suffering of those caught in the war torn country side. I also liked how they progressed from privileged (and somewhat pampered) Americans to those who could handle what war threw at them. Now, as always, with that said this wasn't really for me. It was super fluffy for being WWI Historical Fiction. Sometimes that is what I'm in the mood for...sometimes not. But what made this 2 stars and not 3, was that there was a fair amount of telling in this and not as much ''showing. The narrative felt overpowering in that respect. So 2 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I really am in the minority here. Oh well… This is the kind of book I should have loved but didn’t. It was s-l-o-w in spite of the fact that there is a lot of dialogue which usually makes for a fast read. Not this time. I didn’t find any of the women particularly interesting. It took 100+ pages before they even arrived at the small town in France where they were headed. I was bored!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)

    The year is 1917 and Kate Moran attends Smith College. Kate isn't your average Smith College student though as she is there on scholarship. Kate gets an opportunity to travel to France to help villagers pick their lives back up after the war. The Germans have decimated many French towns and could obviously use any help they can get. Kate has this opportunity thanks to her friend, Emmie Van Alden, who begs her to attend in place of another woman who dropped out. When they arrive, things aren't as The year is 1917 and Kate Moran attends Smith College. Kate isn't your average Smith College student though as she is there on scholarship. Kate gets an opportunity to travel to France to help villagers pick their lives back up after the war. The Germans have decimated many French towns and could obviously use any help they can get. Kate has this opportunity thanks to her friend, Emmie Van Alden, who begs her to attend in place of another woman who dropped out. When they arrive, things aren't as they thought and the women have to rough it a bit, which is a shock to most of them as they come from privileged backgrounds. Nonetheless, it is not about the Smith College women; they are there to help the locals with everything from medical care to their educational needs. Lauren Willig's Band of Sisters is a decent historical read based on a true story about the Smith College women and their experiences in France. Read the rest of my review here: http://www.confessionsofabookaddict.c...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Fitzgerald

    *Review to come* (I’m having a book hangover after finishing this one).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Title: Band of Sisters Series: n/a Author: Lauren Willig Release date: March 2, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: historical fiction, war “I had a daughter once…I had a house once…I had a family once…" The catalogue of loss went on and on. Band of Sisters has a considerable page count at over five hundred pages, and with the grim wartime setting that could easily lead to some slow patches in the story. Lauren Willig managed to keep me rapidly flipping the pages in rapt interest. That is no small feat! I th Title: Band of Sisters Series: n/a Author: Lauren Willig Release date: March 2, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: historical fiction, war “I had a daughter once…I had a house once…I had a family once…" The catalogue of loss went on and on. Band of Sisters has a considerable page count at over five hundred pages, and with the grim wartime setting that could easily lead to some slow patches in the story. Lauren Willig managed to keep me rapidly flipping the pages in rapt interest. That is no small feat! I think the biggest contributor to that was how character driven this novel was. No detail is spared when developing each and every woman in the Smith College relief unit. Each of them have their own motivation for joining the war effort, hopes, dreams, talents, and faults. They are all believably human in their imperfections, sometimes frustratingly so. I was drawn to this story because it's a WW1 story that's based on real events and it didn't disappoint. Kate Moran was a former Smith College scholarship student from Brooklyn who was given a chance at a better life than her mother, and yet her job tutoring girls in French makes her very unhappy. Her life feels empty and dull, so when she's offered the chance to join the Smith College relief fund and travel overseas to France, she impulsively accepts. The group of eighteen women are all Smith College Alumni who have idealistic ideas of being heroes and making a difference. Kate is a little more ambiguous in her motivation. It was almost an escape from her dead end life which is ironic when you think about the horror she's voluntarily stepping into. Though she is a shade naive and wide-eyed going into it, she's nothing compared to the spoiled high-society princesses in the group. Most of them are from old money families, and believe this will be a glorified shopping or sightseeing trip. Their illusions are quickly squashed before they even make landfall. Suddenly they have to worry about the possibility of bombings and the very real threat of crossing paths with the Germans. One minute they're used to having everything handed to them, the next eating lumpy bread and sleeping in the rain. In the beginning I really sympathized with Kate because she felt so out of place with her family after getting a higher education, and unwelcome with her rich peers at school. Although she had a best friend named Emmaline Van Alden, by the time she graduated, she lost faith in their friendship. Unsure if she really cared for her or if she was simply a charity case for her to take care of, she cut ties. On the trip to France she was very stiff and reserved with her former classmates, even Emmie. Her pride was a solid fortress keeping everyone out-especially Emmie's cousin Dr. Julia Pruyn. Her cruel words still reverberated in her head 10 years later. Being around everyone made old wounds resurface again which was going to have to be resolved if they would ever get along civilly. As the book wore on, there were points my patience started to wear thin over the immature, and often sharp way she reacted to her old friend Emmie. She had little patience or sensitivity, and occasionally retaliated in fights by intentionally hurting her. They had a solid rough patch for a while that wasn't easy to untangle, but once they communicated and listened to one another things slowly improved. Emmie was my favorite character of all of them. She was probably the most unjaded, pure of heart with honest intentions of helping the needy. She wasn't there to have fun, escape, or an other selfish reason. She was the kind of person who would give a stranger the shirt off her back and the last dollar out of her pocket. Like Kate, she didn't feel as if she fit in high society, and she certainly didn't have anything in common with her headlines-making suffragette mother. She's plain, sweet, and tends to be timid in times of confrontation. Emmie is a people pleaser rather which isn't always a bad thing, but her soft heart causes her to get taken advantage of more times than not. There were times where I had to facepalm over her artless ignorance of the dark side of humanity. Stepping into a war zone, she blithely takes their safety for granted until the harsh reality of the war slaps her in the face. I liked how everyone matured not only individually, but as a whole. As you learn more about each person's history and personality, you discover that your initial judgements of them were far off target. People aren't simple creatures and have many hidden complexities that make them who they are. Characters that I greatly disliked in the beginning became a well-loved friend. It was the same for the characters as they truly became like a family unit that supported one another. They were more than team members. They knew each other's weaknesses, accomplishments, and no matter how many times they bickered over little things, were inseparable. These women had to endure extreme hardship. They witnessed grisly battle wounds, entire villages decimated, starving and sick civilians who were left with nothing. The sounds of gunfire and bombs became background noise as they got on with their duties. Through every challenge, every hurdle, you watch them grow stronger. Their determination spikes, and their genuine love for those in need flourishes. There is a romantic sub-plot between Emmie and a British captain named Will DeWitt. It was a lovely refuge from the bleak moments and struggle that they endured. The love that grew between the two of them was the equivalent of a cold glass of water to a parched throat. It wasn't sickeningly sweet-just two lost souls finding hope and solace in one another. But beyond that, I loved how much they had in common with their families, their love of literature, and how her optimism balanced his cynicism. They wrote to each other using classic literature quotes which was unbelievably smile-inducing. Even though they met during extraordinary circumstances, there's never a doubt that they've found their other half. It isn't a convenient flirtation or distraction-they'd lay down their lives for one another. “I’ve met any number of women I’m happy to esteem as friends, but never anyone I wanted to share a breakfast table with for the rest of my life. That’s not the trenches speaking or the loneliness or delusion brought on by tainted food. That’s you. Because you’re like no one else in the world, and if the world had to come to this for me to find you-maybe the Kaiser isn’t all that bad after all.” In summary, if you love a historical fiction story based on true events that is less edge of your seat suspenseful than many others in the genre, this could very well be the perfect read for you. It has strong female friendships, rich historical content, and heartwarming inspiration. I will definitely read more from this author in the future. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    A masterful historical fiction writer with insight into the wonderful group of young women known as the Smith College Women who set up shop to help WWI. They form what's being termed the Smith College Relief Fund to aid these two female doctors with medicine and supplies while in route to France during 1917 on the front lines. The terror that everyone faced was pure evil, wicked, and an absolute hell to absorb. Yet, Willig defines the extraordinary lengths and hardships that these women endured thr A masterful historical fiction writer with insight into the wonderful group of young women known as the Smith College Women who set up shop to help WWI. They form what's being termed the Smith College Relief Fund to aid these two female doctors with medicine and supplies while in route to France during 1917 on the front lines. The terror that everyone faced was pure evil, wicked, and an absolute hell to absorb. Yet, Willig defines the extraordinary lengths and hardships that these women endured throughout the turmoil and beyond into their own personal lives with clarity, precision, and magnificence. Weddings to be had, memories to be made, love to be shared. So much was at stake. They performed with courage, dignity, grace, and a fierce sense of loyalty in assisting the German villagers forgetting about their own perils and lives being at stake. Band of Sisters seeds were planted during the author's extensive research of the historical time and she's brought to us a magnificent accounting of the action with authority, splendid richly crafted detail, and superb writing. These eighteen women -The Smith College Alumni Women- are truly a sight to behold. If only empathy and compassion existed in today's world-what a wonderful world it would be. Although many of the characters were exaggerated the events were not. To think it all began with a speech, with letters being written between Kate and Emmie, with a calling that couldn't be denied even with a busy college life on hand. Can you just imagine learning to build your own vehicles or better libraries full scale? Can you imagine having to supply food and medicine to an entire village under these excruciating element during a war? The tenacity lives on with this book and I'm so glad I was awarded this early ARC in exchange for this honest review. I truly hope you welcome this one with open arms too!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Addie Yoder

    Band of Sisters is so beautifully written and developed. I loved this story of found family, strength and survival during WW1. This rag tag group of determined Smith College grads embarks on a mission to war ravaged France to help the people left behind. They are young and innocent and are challenged every step of the way, but the most beautiful part of this story is their growth through their personal challenges and relationships with each other. I love a story that takes me right to google and Band of Sisters is so beautifully written and developed. I loved this story of found family, strength and survival during WW1. This rag tag group of determined Smith College grads embarks on a mission to war ravaged France to help the people left behind. They are young and innocent and are challenged every step of the way, but the most beautiful part of this story is their growth through their personal challenges and relationships with each other. I love a story that takes me right to google and this did just that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Absolutely loved this book! Didn’t want it to end. The character development between the three main protagonists (Kate, Emma and Julia) is nothing short of perfect. I’ve read/listened to approximately 130 books this year and I was really impressed. This book is based on true events. I’ve ordered Ladies of Grecourt to read about the history (vs historical fiction) of these amazing women; women who helped families in WWI so close(miles) to the front line! They even helped direct traffic of the evacu Absolutely loved this book! Didn’t want it to end. The character development between the three main protagonists (Kate, Emma and Julia) is nothing short of perfect. I’ve read/listened to approximately 130 books this year and I was really impressed. This book is based on true events. I’ve ordered Ladies of Grecourt to read about the history (vs historical fiction) of these amazing women; women who helped families in WWI so close(miles) to the front line! They even helped direct traffic of the evacuation when the Germans over ran the lines. This book will be a best seller! Love, love, loved it! Every time the women referred to Emma's British sweetheart, I smiled at the nickname! Thank you to NetGalley and the author/Lauren Willig for an advance read copy in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Always thrilled to see a new Lauren Willig (and she's young, think how many more I can read!) This was EXTREMELY interesting, I am far more a WWII reader than WWI, and I never had any inkling of this situation in that war. Beautifully told story that includes all the misunderstandings of culture and social status, and the cattiness of a bunch of women living together. Many situations we do not and cannot fully comprehend about living along the front of a battleground. When people are said to have Always thrilled to see a new Lauren Willig (and she's young, think how many more I can read!) This was EXTREMELY interesting, I am far more a WWII reader than WWI, and I never had any inkling of this situation in that war. Beautifully told story that includes all the misunderstandings of culture and social status, and the cattiness of a bunch of women living together. Many situations we do not and cannot fully comprehend about living along the front of a battleground. When people are said to have survived such and such in a war, they SURVIVED, and often just barely. I was also interested by the hospital where they did the reconstructions, THAT i knew about, but how interesting to see in a story. Great book

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