If you haven’t already guessed by the pictures Thomas Keneally is Cosmo’s June read.
“Thomas Michael Keneally, AO (born 7 October 1935) is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction. He is best known for writing Schindler’s Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982, which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. The book would later be adapted to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.” (Goodreads)

The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

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In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence — if only they all survive.

At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to men and women of extraordinary moral resilience, even in the face of the incomprehensible horrors of modern war.

Thomas Keneally The widow and her hero

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When Grace married the genial and handsome Captain Leo Waterhouse in Australia in 1943, they were young, in love – and at war. Like many other young men and women, they were ready, willing and able to put the war effort first. They never seriously doubted that they would come through unscathed.But Leo never returned from a commando mission masterminded by his own hero figure, an eccentric and charismatic man who inspired total loyalty from those under his command. The world moved on to new alliances, leaving Grace, like so many widows, to bear the pain of losing the love of her life and wonder what it had all been for.

Sixty years on, Grace is still haunted by the tragedy of her doomed hero when the real story of his ill-fated secret mission is at last unearthed. As new fragments of her hero’s story emerge, Grace is forced to keep revising her picture of what happened to Leo and his fellow commandoes – until she learns about the final piece in the jigsaw, and the ultimate betrayal.

As absorbing as it is moving, this timely novel reminds us of the terrible costs of war as it questions why men so willingly and fatally adopt the heroic code.

Thomas Keneally The place at Whittonthe place

Father Stenner, Whitton’s President, was shocked by the murder within the monastery walls. It could only be the work of one of his priests. Then the real nightmare began. Killing followed gory killing. The killer was apparently a madman. Into the whirlpool of fear and violence that he created stepped a bizarre young woman. She had a very specific use for a priest gone bad.

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