cover image Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters

Lauren Willig. Morrow, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-298615-3

Willig (The Summer Country) draws on the Smith College Relief Unit’s experiences in France during WWI for this immersive novel. In 1917, Smith graduate Kate Moran joins fellow alumnus Emmie Van Alden to travel to France and help villagers whose lives have been upended by an earlier German occupation. The unit, composed of 17 women, resides in army barracks near an abandoned chateau in Grecourt, where they provide locals with food, medical care, and education. The villagers’ lack of bare necessities is eye-opening for the Smith women, many of whom have led privileged lives. Kate, meanwhile, remains sensitive about her humble beginnings—she gained admission to Smith through a scholarship—and becomes upset when she discovers that Emmie paid for her trip to France. (Emmie had told her they were funded by donations from Smith alumnae). As the war rages on and the German army once again advances on Grecourt, Kate and Emmie’s friendship grows stronger when they reveal their deepest insecurities to one another. Willig expertly uses historical details in her seamless, well-plotted tale. This will entice readers from the very first page. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (Mar.)