I was really looking forward to reading this but in the end I found it just okay. There were bits of absolutely beautiful writing; however, they were buried within page after page of fragmentary descriptions, bizarrely structured sentences, and quotation-less dialogue. For a "sweeping, epic book" (according to the back cover), I agree with other reviewers that the story and its characters are passionless, remote, and distant. The book slogs through the first three years of the war. The main characters all witness the terrible physical and psychological effects of war, but though there are descriptions of devastating injuries, the smell of blood and infected wounds, dirty uniforms, mud, rats, crap food, etc. reading it all was horrific, but I never felt
anything - it was all described in a very clinical, detached way.
The love stories were dull; unfortunately, so was the relationship between the two sisters. The relationship was a bit prickly to begin with when the older sister moved to the city, then strained further after the death of their mother. Then the war came and they suddenly grew close with no explanation - not that one was needed but it was presented as if it were this utterly miraculous event - NOW THEY ARE SISTERS....AND FRIENDS?! - that I rolled my eyes and thought, so what? Far more interesting were their friendships with the other nurses.
So while it was interesting to learn about the experiences of nurses on the front, the characters were beyond bland and that made it difficult to care when anything happened to them. As the war draws, both sisters fall victim to the flu pandemic, but the last chapter offers two alternate endings where one sister lives and the other perishes. I felt so little for the sisters (though I suppose I preferred the younger Sally)that I couldn't bother to care which one lived and which died.