Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Harper Audio Review- Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig narrated by Julie Whelan

Today it is my great privilege to present my #Harper Audio review of Band of Sisters,  the latest historical novel by one of the best in the genre Lauren Willig.

ISBN-13: 9780063070332
Publisher: Harper Audio
Release Date: 3-2-2021
Length: 958 minutes 
Source: Netgalley for review
Buy It: Audible/B&N/GooglePlay


“With heart and humor, Willig explores the complexities of female friendships—feuds, forgiveness, and all. A touching portrait of triumph and found family in the midst of war. Bravo!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling author of America's First Daughter & The Women of Chateau Lafayette

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?

Listen to a sample:

My Harper Audio Review:

Band of Sisters
Lauren Willig


Lauren Willig’s latest is a historical masterpiece and close to if not her best work, plus it truly is remarkable because even though each of Lauren’s characters are fictional most are based on real people and the book itself is based on real events, there really was a Smith College relief fund, they really did go to France during the height of WWI to give humanitarian aid to the locals, and they really did become legends among those they served. Speaking of the characters her two heroines Kate and Emmie are brilliant and readers/listeners will root for them and at times shake their head at what these two incredible yet very human women accomlish. Emmie’s cousin Julia rates as a stand out costar but each of the women Lauren portrayed have her own exceptional characterizations and voice. Lauren may take some creative liberty in her storytelling but the narrative is brilliant full of war time brutality, human spirit and hope and gives her audience a full on experience of both human and landscape wartime devastation. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, wartime fiction, exceptional women in fiction, historical fiction based on real events and or a fan of Lauren Willig you too will be a huge fan of this novel and the determined women it portrays.

Julia Whelan knocks this out of the park, her emotional characterizations are unforgettable and individual enough to differentiate between characters and her accents are spot on. No one could have done a better job narrating this amazing novel.

In the Spring of 1917 a group of 18 women all Smith College alumni formed the Smith College Relief Unit and head to France to help in the War effort. Most of these women had no prior experience, none had ever been anywhere near the front lines of a war but they all took up the mantle to do what was needed. Emmeline Van Alden daughter of New York socialites has never felt a part of anything what with her feminist/suffragette larger than life mother so she signs up hoping to find her place and pays the way of her college bestie Kate Moran. Kate never felt like she belonged with all the other Smithies, she was from a poor working class family who happened to win a scholarship to Smith and was working in a job she hated when her Smith roommate Emmie tells her about the relief effort and since the fares are being paid for by donations she decides she’s going. Emmie’s cousin Julia a groundbreaker herself as one of the two doctors in the group is also heading to France. A rude awakening puts it mildly what these women experience when they arrive to the bombed out burned out villages and the shell shocked people who are doing everything they can to survive. So these amazing women pull up their sleeves and muck through the mud and get to work.

About the author:
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of historical fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, The English Wife, the RITA Award-winning Pink Carnation series, and three novels co-written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best, and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, two young children, and vast quantities of coffee.

About the Narrator:
Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and narrator of over 400 audiobooks. Recently named one of AudioFile magazine's Golden Voices, she has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover's Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier.


  1. I just received the book and look forward to diving in. I adore Whelan so I may need to grab the audio.

    1. OMG she made it Fantastic Kim but then I love her too

  2. I like the sound of this one and would definitely choose the audio option. Will keep it in mind.