Cover Image: Little Souls

Little Souls

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The setting for this magnificent book by Sandra Dallas takes place in the year 1918 in Denver.  The Spanish Flu has reached Denver and the government is hesitant about informing the public- -sound all too familiar- -much as the situation we had with information about COVID-19.  Some people wore masks made of scarfs or even cheesecloth and schools and churches were turned into additional hospitals.  The detail that the author describes puts one right in the heart of the story whether it’s describing a Liberty Bond Parade or Lutie working with fashion illustrations at her department store position.   Two sisters, Helen who is a nurse, and Lutie, the fashion artist, own a house in Denver and had rented a flat in the basement of their home, to Maud and her daughter, Dorothy, until Maud dies of the influenza and the two sisters take on the responsibility of raising Dorothy as their sister.  This is their life until one afternoon Lutie arrives home to find Helen, with a bloody instrument in her hand, standing over the dead body of Dorothy’s father who had earlier abandoned Dorothy and her mother.   This is not a pretty story filled with so much personal problems of the sisters’s, life in 1918 and terrible societal problems not unlike the problems of today.  It is the dignity of the sisters and the loved ones around them that make this a truly believable work of fiction.  Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of this book; this is my honest review.
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I received an advance reading copy (arc) of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. This book interested me because of the locality. The story takes place in Denver during World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic. My daughter lives near Denver and I am very familiar with the city so I thought an historical novel that takes place there would be a good read. I was not disappointed. Two sisters, Lute and Helen Hite, move to Denver from Iowa after the death of their parents. They make a good life for themselves--Helen is a nurse while artistic Lute (short for Lucretia) draws ads for a department store. While the sisters live their lives, they are not immune to the horrors of war, as well as the devastation of the deadly flu. Author Sandra Dallas does a fine job of blending their story with historical elements and brings to life the Mile High City that existed over 100 years ago. She also throws a little girl, Dorothy, in the mix. The child is orphaned and has endured unspeakable abuse, but the sisters love her and vow to protect her. I enjoyed this book and thought that Sandra Dallas penned a good story.
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Little Souls by Sandra Dallas was a fabulous book! I gave it FIVE stars for FIVE reasons. I’ll list them for you below.

Number One ~ I loved the time period. It took place during the period of the 1918 flu and World War I. It was interesting how the epidemic was handled then compared to how it has been handled during our current Covid-19 epidemic. The same type of precautions were taken and at times precautions were thrown to the wind. The parades and the celebrations in the streets when the end of the war was declared was one instance.

Number Two ~ The characters in this book were people we could relate to. Much like we think they may have been in that time period. More gentle and caring. Hardworking people. The main character was an artist for a popular department store that drew the advertisements for the newspaper. We’ve all seen the black and white drawings but, for some reason, I never imagined someone be employed to do that all day everyday.

Number Three ~ The cost of homes in that day for a modest family home was in the neighborhood of $1000.00. I like reading how they were frugal with their money. Many folks in town did not own a care because there were trolleys running through town and it was easy enough to walk to the stop and jump on the trolley to get to near where you wanted to go. 

Number Four ~ I grew to understand that although we have many more advancements in the medical field, we still fell short when it came to treating Covid-19. They fell very short when it came to treating the Spanish Flu. They absolutely didn’t have any drugs to combat the flu. When the sick started to turn blue, they knew the end was near. In fact, they called it the Spanish Flu but they think it may have started in the United States and our service men took it to other countries when they went to fight the war.

Number Five ~ I loved the slang that was used during that time. We have all heard the police called Coppers in the old films. It was fun to see how the vocabulary was sometimes used during that time. I really enjoyed that time period in the book.

Sandra Dallas did a fine job in the book. Some folks resist reading anything about a pandemic but, I don’t think it was really that prominent in the book. It might have been for someone that has lost a loved one to the pandemic but, it may be just something you can relate to. Overall, the book related to the stamina of people in hard times and the will to move forward and do what is right. 

I think this book should be required reading. It was so good and there was so much to be learned.
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I was very disappointed by this title, which most definitely fell into the romance/women's fiction category, which I deliberately try to avoid. There was far too little about the flu pandemic, far too much about romantic relationships among characters.
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Denver  -  1918

Helen and her sister, Lute, share a home in Denver where Helen works as a nurse and Lute works as a dress designer in a department store.  When their parents died, they decided to move to Denver for a new start.

Unfortunately, the Spanish influenza is raging and people everywhere are dying from it.  Schools have closed and bodies have to be left outside to be picked up for burial, meaning there are no funerals.

Helen works hard and enjoys the company of her boyfriend, Gil, who is a doctor.  Lute has met a nice gentleman, Peter, who is attending divinity college.  Lute is not sure she would want to marry a minister, but Peter has other ideas of what he wants to do with his life.  With the war in France, Peter has decided to join up.  Lute is so worried about him but he has assured her that the war will be over soon and he will return.  

Helen and Lute have rented the basement of their home to a couple and their 10-year-old daughter, Dorothy.  The mother dies from influenza and the father drinks and is often not home.  The sisters bring Dorothy to be with them.

One day, Lute returns to find Dorothy’s father dead in their kitchen with Helen standing over him holding an ice pick.  She says she killed him as he was going to attack her and take Dorothy.  They throw his body outside and pin a note to him saying he died of influenza.

Lute receives word that Peter has been killed in the war and she is devastated.  His wealthy family welcomes her into their lives and they also love Dorothy.

Will Lute and Helen be able to continue with their lives and be able to adopt Dorothy?

This is a book that depicts the sufferings of victims of the 1918 Spanish flu.  It was a very difficult and sad time for many.  The author has done a good job of producing well-created characters that interact perfectly.  I enjoyed the book and hope others will as well.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Little Souls
author: Sandra Dallas
St. Martin's Press 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pub date: 4/26/22

Against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, uncertainty and adversity were rampant in 1918 Denver, Colorado. With World War I and the Spanish Flu outbreak, it was a time for people to band together for support and strength. 

Dallas weaves the bond of sisterhood throughout her intriguing plot. Sisters Helen and Lutie came to Denver together from Iowa in 1914, after the death of their parents. Both had degrees, nursing for Helen and design for Lutie, and they set out to see more of the world.

Lutie dated a young minister, Peter, who followed his calling to enlist, while Helen fell for a doctor named Gil. 
The progression of both the war and the epidemic moved the plot forward with hardship and suspense. An endearing little girl named Dorothy had more than her share of tribulations, becoming central in the sisters' lives while capturing their hearts. 

Amidst the affliction within the story, Dallas captured many moments of compassion, care, and tenderness within the lives of the main characters. Descriptions of Dorothy's treasure box stirred my emotions, as the young girl lovingly sorted through her prized mementos. The recurring messages of protecting, caring for, and remembering those we love brought splendid rays of light to the darkness and grey of war, sickness, and abuse. 

Thank you to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the advance reader's copy and opportunity to provide my unbiased review.
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I just finished reading Little Souls by Sandra Dallas.

Little Souls is a historical fiction set in Denver in 1918 as the Spanish Flu is raging and WWI is still fighting in Europe. The story is set around two sisters Helen who is a nurse and Lutie who is a advertising illustrator. They have a rental apartment in their basement and when Dorothy, the young girl who lives there mom dies of the flu and her father has disappeared they decide to adopt her. When a man dead and Helen is standing over him with an ice pick what will happen?

This book has a lot going on with death, violence, child abuse, pandemics, kidnapping and more. It kept me entertained while walking but it was kinda slow paced and overall a fine story. 

If you really liked Susan Meissner's As Bright As Heaven or are looking for a historical fiction about the Spanish Flu I'd recommend.
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Set in 1918, in Denver, during the Spanish Influenza and WWI, this historical fiction is different than typical. It follows Lutie and Helen, two sisters who are strong, working women who share a house together. Helen is a nurse and Lutie is an artist working at a department store.  They are both set to marry. Helen to a doctor and Lutie to a seminary student who then goes to war. They also take over care for the young girl Dorothy, who’s family rents their basement after her parents are gone, one ran off and one dead of influenza. There’s also a murder that is not exactly what it appears. 

I really enjoyed this one and read it quickly. I liked to characters and found it interesting to read about this time period. It very much is similar to the COVID pandemic and that makes what they are going through relatable. The bond between sisters was lovely to read and so was the will to live and carry on with friends and family.

Thanks to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the eARC for review!
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This was a wonderful portrayal of love, loss and fortitude shown by the female main characters of this emotional story.  Helen and Lutie are two sisters who moved to Denver to move along with their lives after the loss of their parents.  Their story evolves during WWI and the plague of the Spanish Flu brought back by returning soldiers. The sisters are both highly independent women who have careers outside the home.  They also rent the basement apartment of their home and, unfortunately, the current tenants bring both terror and compassion into their lives as they try to help the little girl of the family, Dorothy. Helen is a nurse and has seen so many situation that leave her heartbroken over the struggles of her career, but which also brings love into her life.  Lutie’s fiance has left for war, but also brings into her life his mother who becomes a very strong ally to Lutie and her sister, and who has also faced many hardships in her own  life before becoming the matriarch of a prestigious family.  The story is well-told and I appreciate that the author has given such strong characters to the women of the book who have to face so many problems in their lives and learn how to deal with them and move along.  While the storyline is dramatic, there is also the underlying humor and awkwardness  involved in lives well lived. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this advance reader copy.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  #LittleSouls #NetGalley.
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I’m always all in for a new Sandra Dallas book. Set amidst the waning months of WWI and the flu epidemic of 1918, I was a bit apprehensive. After 2 years of a pandemic the last thing I wanted to read was about another one. However, Dallas makes it a backdrop but not center stage. Lutie, a free spirit, is the main character. She and her sister Helen’s lives undergo drastic changes in just a few months. I figured out partly what was going to happen early on. There are many calamities in the story, but it fortifies the story.
Little Souls will capture your attention like a Dallas novel does.
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When I initially requested this book on NetGalley, I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read a book set during a epidemic considering we're still in the midst of one. I soon realized that while the Spanish Flu is prominent part of the plot, there are enough things that kept the story realistic outside of a pandemic. The author kept the story moving forward with things happening that were unrelated to the pandemic.

Denver. 1918. Influenza epidemic. WWI is still raging, though the end of the war is on the horizon. Despite the hope of the end of the war, Helen and Lucretia "Lutie" are still fighting their own war on the home front with the Spanish Flu still rampant. Helen, a nurse, and her younger sister Lutie, an advertising designer for a local women's fashion store, are homeowner's who lease out their basement apartment. When their tenant dies from the flu, the sisters find themselves becoming the primary caregivers for the tenant's young daughter, Dorothy. One night when Lutie comes home from work, she finds Helen standing over a dead body in the kitchen, which happens to be Dorothy's father. He hasn't been seen in months and he was around, he was usually drunk. Scared about the repercussions of his dead body in their house, they decide to try disguising the body as a flu victim by discarding it in the street, which turns out to not be as much of a disguise as they hoped it would be. 

Meanwhile, Lutie also worries about her fiance who is fighting overseas, allowing her to form a bond with her future mother in law. Fighting her own demons, she helps the sisters and Dorothy through the murder investigation, their complicated adoption of Dorothy, and as the influenza outbreak hits close to home. 

While I wish that Sandra Dallas had focused a little more on the war, I did appreciate that she focused more on the events happening at home. Adding more details about the war would've made the book too long and too dense to get through because of the already dense and difficult content.

Dallas eloquently told the story of two strong, independent sisters trying their hardest at making ends meet. Yet, despite their own hardships, they take in a young girl who has been through hell and back at a young age. Through their guidance, and her own determination, Dorothy learns to love again and overcomes her own demons. 

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC of this ebook.
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Little Souls
Sandra Dallas

NYT Bestseller Sandra Dallas’s latest literary historical is absolutely unputdownable, packed with secrets, lies, heartbreak and healing. Set in Denver during both WWI and the Spanish Flu Pandemic staring two forward thinking sisters, the men who loved them and the little girl who needed them as much as they needed her.
Needless to say its’ eerily familiar to read a historical novel based on the facts of the 1917 flu epidemic that mimics the events of the past couple of years with just as much misinformation, confusion, fear mongering and government cover-ups back then as we all experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Then throw in a murder, bootleggers and a World War and Sandra Dallas has herself one powerful novel. The dialogue is period perfect and will take listeners/readers right into the story along with the vivid first-person narrative through Lutie’s eyes. Both sisters plus Dorothy are the definite stars in the novel, they plus a few strong supporting characters brilliantly carry the story. Plus seeing the flu epidemic through the eyes of a nurse like Helen and her doctor fiancé Gil gives the tale a more genuine feel and experiencing the tragedies that befall all three of our female stars produces sympathy and empathy from the audience. Those who love historical novels based on facts, the work of Lauren Willig, Beatriz Williams or the novels of this exceptional author will find this read amazing.

Lutie and Helen Hite moved to Denver following the deaths of their parents and with their father’s life insurance buy a home and set up housekeeping, plus for extra income they rent out a basement apartment to the Streeter family consisting of Mr. Streeter, his wife Maude, and their young daughter Dorothy. The sisters are settling in nicely even with the influenza pandemic raging, Helen a nurse has no problem finding work and Lutie with her fine arts skills has found a job creating ads for a local department store. Both sisters have also found love, Helen is engaged to, Gil a local doctor and Lutie is seeing, Peter a theology student. Then a series of tragedies happen, first Mr. Streeter abandons his family then Maude dies leaving Dorothy an orphan but Helen and Lutie have both fallen in love with the little girl and are determined to adopt her. But that’s in jeopardy when Lutie comes home from work finding Dorothy in shock and Helen holding an ice pick over the dead body of Mr. Streeter.
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This was cute, overall a sweet story of love and loss. It was really interesting reading about how Denver handled the Spanish flu and thinking about how that compares to the recent treatment of COVID (the mayor says it's ok to go to the parade today! You can't get the flu if you vote Republican!) 
*
In general I liked the characters, although they were all a bit one-dimensional. The characters you were supposed to like were sweet and kind-hearted, while the characters you weren't supposed to like were almost caricatures of evil. I also thought the secrets and twists that were revealed over time were a bit jarring how they were brought up, they didn't seem to come up naturally. 
*
This didn't necessarily blow me away, but it was interesting and easy to read. 3.5 stars
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An excellent historical fiction novel set in Denver during the last major global pandemic. Timely release as we all are living through Covid and often learning about what transpired during the Spanish flu. The author did a great job creating a sense of time and place, and it was an excellent story of sisterhood and chosen family.

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martins for the eARC, in exchange for this honest review.
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After seeing that Little Souls takes place here in Colorado, I knew I had to read it.

During the Spanish Flu epidemic, Helen and Lutie have settled into their life in Denver after their parents' death.  Sharing a small house, they rent out the basement only for their tenant to die from the flu, leaving them to raise her young daughter.  When it appears that Helen has killed the young girl's father, the women must leave the body as more tragedy strikes the newly created family.

I really did enjoy the book, although it definitely felt like anything that could go wrong would go wrong for the women.  From the flu, to murder, to other tragedies, life was not easy for the sisters and Dallas did a great job setting up an intriguing story.
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Interesting novel with several storylines that come together well in the end.  Representative of cities in 1918, with the end of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Relatable to today's Covid-19 restrictions. Thank you #NetGalley for allowing me to give my voluntary and honest opinion of #LittleSouls.
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This story focuses on the experiences of two sisters in Denver during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, even though the flu is only part of the story. The author paints a graphic picture of bodies in the streets, right from the opening scene. Schools and churches are closed and people are afraid. One sister is a nurse and one is an artist who makes a living drawing ads for a fashionable Denver store. There are major similarities to what we have experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Also front and center is World War I. Lutie and Helen (the sisters) rent their basement to a family, the father of which isn’t a nice man at all. He disappears and the mother later dies of the flu, so the sisters take in the daughter, Dorothy, and the rest of the book revolves around this girl. The love between the two sisters and the affection they have for this girl is really the main theme of the book. There is a lot of tragedy in the back stories of several of the characters. I enjoyed the story, despite it being a bit predictable, but never felt emotionally connected somehow. 

CW: Similarity to COVID pandemic, references to incest, sexual assault/rape, domestic violence, murder, child abuse, kidnapping, war deaths and injuries

I bounced between the audiobook and the ebook for this title, which was very convenient. The audiobook narrator, Carly Robins, did a wonderful job with the various voices. 

Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook and to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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I really enjoyed reading this book and I love historical fiction so it was nice to read about a time period that isn't done much.  The writing was well done and I enjoyed the characters.
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After a slow start, I read 80% of Little Souls in one sitting. Inside this beautiful cover is a great story about two sisters, Helen who is a nurse, and Lutie who works at Neusteter’s Department Store as an artist. The sisters moved to Denver from Iowa after their parents passed away. Both have love interests. Most of the story takes place toward the end of WWI during the Spanish Flu. 

I especially liked the Prologue and the Epilogue. In the Prologue, Lutie arrives home after work to find her sister holding an ice pick in the kitchen over the dead body of Mr, Streeter, who rents their basement apartment. His ten-year-old daughter, Dorothy is also standing there. Sandra Dallas then spends Chapters 1-5 going back in time to give the reader background on the various characters. This is the section that I felt was slow. Don’t skip these chapters to get to Chapter 6. 

This book made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me angry at times. I also liked that it showed resilience (overcoming obstacles), and it shows hope. This was my first Sandra Dallas book, and it will not be my last. Excellent storytelling and Little Souls would make a very good book club choice. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
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Really good historical. Very evocative of the WWI era and the focus on the Spanish flu epidemic was timely and well done. Likeable characters. I really enjoyed it. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC copy for my review.
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