Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

Read August 22 2021

Talk about being behind in writing my reviews! I read this at the end of the summer and now it’s November. Fortunately, I liked this book so much, have since recommended it to others, and it made such an impression on me that it will be easy to recall and write about.

This is some solid historical fiction all about the Smith college alumni who formed a group to go aid French villages in WWI. There is an excellent afterword which explains what was true, what was made up, and the research the author did. I did also visit her website to look the historical maps of the area to better visualize what was going on. This was all equally as fascinating as the fictional story.
The story is told from different points of views, including the one girl who has always felt a bit of an imposter, coming from a poorer family. What was especially interesting to me was that these women were no 18 year olds-they’d been graduated for a while. Also, the socialite women who didn’t have paid jobs but worked very hard basically in social services in the tenements, tending to poor immigrants, were total heroes and then used that “overlooked women’s work” when they were in France. It was also interesting just how much hard work they all did. Their job was to go help villages that had been destroyed by the Germans. As a reader in 2021, I kept thinking, “but…but…I know the war isn’t over yet and it’s really too soon to rebuild because I’m pretty sure it’s all going to be destroyed again.” But they don’t know that! And they worked so hard to help everyone plant crops, build shelters, find food, and have services. Despite the sadness that comes with war stories, this managed to not be a depressing story. I thought it was great and filled with historical detail.

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