Band of Sisters

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Title: Band of Sisters
Published by: William Morrow
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Pages: 400
ISBN13: 978-0062986153

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.

Three weeks 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?

Praise & Awards

 “An inspiring ode to the indomitable strength of women and the fierce, indelible bonds of female friendship, a tale of she-roes that will make you both laugh and cry."
-- Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of THE QUEEN'S FORTUNE


“As a Smith grad, I am deeply grateful for BAND OF SISTERS, a World War I novel that pays an overdue and moving tribute to the brave women who passed through the historic Grécourt Gates, passing down a legacy of humanitarian service and accomplishment. With heart and humor, Willig explores the complexities of female friendships--feuds, forgiveness, and all--to give us a touching portrait of triumph and found family in the midst of a very dangerous zone of war. Bravo!”
-- Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER


“A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines who risk everything to volunteer in war-torn France, at a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote. Willig brilliantly imbues this gritty, based-on-real-life narrative with her trademark dry wit and crystalline prose. A triumph.”
--Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE


“With wit and care and skill, Lauren Willig has delivered a highly readable literary escape. Brimming with a cast of characters to love and root for, and based on actual events and the lives of truly brave women, BAND OF SISTERS is the perfect story for our troubled times. This is the historical novel you’ve been hungering for.”
-- Susan Meissner, bestselling author of THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS


“With great skill, Lauren Willig brings to life a lost piece of World War One history: the fascinating, based-on-a-true-story tale of a band of women from Smith College who chose to go to France to rebuild shattered villages just miles from the front. In Band of Sisters, Willig has created characters you’ll root for, seemingly insurmountable challenges at every turn, and a battle-ravaged setting so real that you’ll forget you’re reading fiction. Her meticulous research is evident and woven beautifully throughout, and her talent for transporting readers to another time and place is matched only by her knack for writing about complicated, fascinating women.  A compelling tale of love, resilience, expectations, bravery, and above all, the powerful, redemptive bonds of female friendship, all set to the richly drawn backdrop of war-torn, early twentieth century France.”
-- Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES


“In this captivating novel, the Band of Sisters introduces readers to a little-known, but important, slice of World War I history -- the brave and daring efforts of the all-female Smith College Relief Unit to aid French women and children devastated by the war. Through the eyes of Kate and Emmie, two fascinating Smith women from wildly different backgrounds who dare to make a difference in a world inhospitable to ambitious women, the ever-masterful Lauren Willig beautifully celebrates the actions of these singular women, who scaled far above the barriers erected by society and themselves to soar.”
–Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE


“An incredible sweeping tale of bravery, sisterhood and friendship set amid the challenges of World War I.  A simply wonderful tale of She-roes! Told with Lauren Willig's dry wit and meticulous research, Band of Sisters is a gem that will stay with you long after you read it.”
-- Andrea Katz, Great Thoughts Great Readers


“The characters in this book are unforgettable. The story is gripping and action packed, and, maybe even more importantly, it reminds us that during the darkest of times there will always be those who try to help. This book celebrates the human spirit in a such a moving way. By telling the tale of these women who gave so much, it reminds us of the best of humanity and what it means to care about something bigger than one's self. This is a book about compassion, courage, and community, and it is exactly the book I needed to read right now.”
-- I'd Rather Read