Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars: Story of a nurse during 1918 pandemic is eerily prescient

Book review: Emma Donoghue’s new novel was written pre-Covid and rushed to publication

The novel follows a nurse over three shifts at a Dublin hospital during the Spanish flu of 1918. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The novel follows a nurse over three shifts at a Dublin hospital during the Spanish flu of 1918. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nurse Julia Power is making her way into work when she spots a new notice, longer than the previous ones, nailed on to the lamppost outside the hospital. “The public is warned,” it says, “to stay out of public places such as cafes, theatres, cinemas and public houses. See only those persons one needs to see. Refrain from shaking hands, laughing, or chatting closely together.”

All sensible advice, it seems, for surviving the year 2020. “If one must kiss, do so through a handkerchief. Sprinkle sulphur in the shoes,” the notice advises.

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