Cover Image: Little Souls

Little Souls

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Member Reviews

A rather timely book about how the ravages of a pandemic, this one the Spanish flu, affects all those it touches.  

Set during WWI, we follow two sisters as they navigate this extra stressful time.  Helen and Lutie have purchased a home in Denver and rent out the basement apartment.  Helen is a nurse and entrenched in the day to day struggles with the new pandemic.  Lutie works at a clothing store as an advertising designer.  Each has a beau and we watch each relationship as it slowly grows.  Life takes a turn when their downstairs tenant dies of the flu, leaving the daughter, Dorothy without a home.  There is murder, death from the flu, death from the war, painful pasts to overcome and redemption to be found. 

Overall I enjoyed this one.  I was intrigued with how the story of that pandemic was told.  I have mentioned to many that I am curious to see how our current pandemic will be told in the history books.  This is the second book that I have read in recent weeks set during the 1918's, and it has been very compelling for me.  

There are definitely times in the book when I questioned if the events could have really happened, but overall I enjoyed this book.  Plus, while handling some heavy topics, it did not become burdensome.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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It's 1918 and the Spanish Flu and WWI loom large in Colorado and over sisters Helen and Lutie.  Helen, a nurse, and Lutie, an artist are living well, having rented out the lower level apartment in their house to the Streeter family and enjoying relationships with Gil and Peter respectively. And then things start to fall apart.  Peter enlists,  Mr. Streeter disappears, and Mrs. Streeter dies of the flu, prompting the sisters to take in Dorothy.  But there's something wrong with her, something sad.  Peter's wealthy and influential family takes the sisters into their embrace and, when the going gets really tough, helps in a variety of ways.  No spoilers from me but know that Dallas doesn't pull punches.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This is a very emotional novel of love, loss and the family we make.  A very good read.
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As Spanish influenza and World War I rages, Lutie and her sister Helen continue to live their daily lives in Denver, Colorado. Helen, a nurse, takes care of influenza patients every day praying she does not bring it home while Lutie, an ad designer, prays her sister does not catch the illness from her patients.  The sister's downstairs neighbor passes away leaving her young child with nowhere to go as her father has deserted the family. They decide to take in the child, Dorothy as opposed to sending her to an orphanage. As the story progresses, it is discovered that Dorothy was horribly abused and the sister will do anything needed to keep her safe after her father returns.

This was a book with a few dark moments but mostly it was a story that shows that love comes in many forms and can continue when after those we love have left us. It was also a story that had moments of excitement that it never truly capitalized on. I found the story pleasant to read but it will not be something that I suggest to others.
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I really enjoyed this historical fiction book set in Denver during the early 20th century. My first Sandra Dallas book, this story had it all:

- strong female characters
- bootleggers
- murder
- WWI
- the Spanish flu pandemic
- beautiful sisterhood relationships
- love, loss and a happily ever after

Perfect for fans of Bluebird by Genevieve Graham, The orphan collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman or As bright as heaven by Susan Meissner. This story kept me interested right to the end and is one I will happily recommend! Much thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for my advance review copies!

CW: rape, abuse of a child
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3 nice predictable stars
Little Souls is a work of historical fiction set in Denver during WWI. It covers ‘the Influenza’ and women’s roles, told through the eyes of two sisters in their twenties. Dallas does a good job making the reader feel how desperate victims of the Spanish flu and their caregivers were, with only minor medical interventions available.

Another reason I wouldn’t have wanted to live in 1918 was that the role of women was very narrow. There was some mention of women trying to get the vote, but professions were generally limited to nurse, teacher, domestic, wife, mother. 

Dallas presents a range of emotions throughout the book, but dialogue is stiff. “’You care too much. You care about me, and you care about the soldiers and the women you help and all those little souls you encounter.’ ‘Little souls?’ ‘Oh, it’s something I heard Judge Howell say…It comes from some Roman emperor. It means the poor, the hopeless, the common people nobody ever notices. In truth, it applies to all of us. We’re all lost little souls in our way.’” Nice thought, but people just don’t talk that way. The bad guys are all bad, the good characters, very good. I prefer more dimensional characters and less predictability. 

Trigger warnings: mention of child abuse, prostitution and sexual assault - with nothing graphic. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Little Souls is the first book I've read by Sandra Dallas.  How come I wasn't already acquainted with her work?!  I should have been reading her stories ages ago!  I read the majority of this book in two days.  I almost didn't want to leave the house today until I finished.  Almost.  But being Easter, I did want to see my family...and eat my sister's absolutely awesome ham.  But I jumped right back into my book as soon as we returned home.  This book had me crying until my face was puffy, it was that good!

Sisters Helen and Lutie Hite moved to Denver, Colorado after their parents died.  It's now 1918 and World War I is still being fought ferociously, but it's becoming almost as dangerous at home.  The Spanish Influenza is spreading throughout the world, killing millions of people.  It's becoming so bad that corpses are being left in the street for horse-drawn carts to pick up.  Helen, a nurse, and her doctor beau Gil are furiously working to save patients, though their efforts don't have much effect.  Younger sister Lutie is a lighthearted career woman working as an advertising designer at an upscale women's clothing store; she becomes engaged to a young student, Peter, who enlists and is shipped to France.  They rent out their basement apartment for a bit of money.  When their tenant Maud dies, the sisters take in her 10-year-old daughter Dorothy.  One day Lutie comes home to find Dorothy's father lying dead on their kitchen floor, with Helen standing over the body with an icepick.  His body is brought to a vacant lot and they hope it is disguised as a flu death.  But then two detectives arrive at their home...

As I mentioned earlier, this book had me blubbering like a baby!  I didn't read many reviews before I started so I didn't see any spoilers.  I won't leave any spoilers myself. Suffice it to say, I was totally unexpecting many events in the story.  It was heartbreaking in many ways, but also quite uplifting.  I loved both Helen and Lutie; they were entirely different - like my sister and me! - but both very special - dare I say like my sister and me?  Helen was very serious and had some hidden secrets that she didn't even share with Lutie, whom she loved more than anyone else in the world.  Lutie was a carefree and creative soul and she couldn't imagine marrying someone who might become a minister, yet she loved Peter and accepted his proposal.  She worried about her young man going to join the good fight, but he felt he had to sign up.  She became good friends with Mrs. Howell, Peter's mother, who also liked Helen and treated Dorothy as a granddaughter.  She was one of my favorite characters.  I just adored Dorothy.  It was obvious that she had hidden trauma that Helen understood.  Both Gil and Peter were immensely likeable, and I enjoyed their presence in all the scenes in which they appeared. Both the Spanish Flu and the murder storylines were fascinating, and I admired the way the author mixed them together throughout the book.  I was only a little familiar with the influenza pandemic, and I found myself reading about it online when I took a brief reading break.  I was fascinated to discover that many deaths were probably caused by aspirin poisoning.  Thank God for modern medicine!  This book was heartbreaking, yet also quite touching and a celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit.  I will certainly search out more of this author's work.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.  I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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Pandemic fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. When we started living through our own pandemic, I went looking for books featuring the 1918 flu epidemic. I didn't find a lot but the few I did read left me wanting more. When I spotted Little Souls, I knew I had to read it. It was just wonderful. 

I immediately loved the kind-hearted sisters Helen and Lutie. I would have loved to be friends with Lutie who works as an advertising artist for a department store but who really enjoys repurposing bits and bobs and scraps of fabrics into hats and scarves (two of my favorite articles of clothing). 

Little Souls is filled with tragedy but the strength displayed by the characters makes it an uplifting story in many ways. 

While this story is set during the final months of WWI, the focus is on the tragedy ravishing the homefront - the Spanish flu. The reader will see some parallels to our own recent response to a fast-spreading, deadly disease. But the flu is just the backdrop for the true story.

Lutie and Helen take in a young child whose family lived in the basement apartment and did their laundry. Dorothy's mother dies from the flu, no one knows where her father has gone and it would be better for everyone if he never shows up again.

The story subtly reveals the plight of women during this time. While Helen and Lutie are independent women, it is still expected they will marry. While the sisters plan to adopt Dorothy as their sister, they know that it is likely Helen and Gil will be her parents when they marry as Lutie's fiance is serving overseas.

Little Souls also has a bit of a mystery. Dorothy's father ran with a rough crowd. When one of his associates claims to be her uncle and kidnaps her when Lutie refuses to hand her over, his dark dealings, as well as the unsavory treatment of women and children, come to light. 

There are also some passing references to the conditions of orphanages during this time (they weren't good) and that should Dorothy be sent to one she would be turned out at the age of 14 to fend for herself.

The story is set in Denver and I enjoyed getting a look at this time period from a part of the country that I hadn't really considered before. 

I found the ending to be a little too convenient, but then I thought that it probably was pretty accurate for the time period. I would love to see how life continues for the characters. We get a glimpse of their future with an epilogue, but it just made me want to know more about how they got to that point.

My review will be published at Girl Who Reads on Monday, April 18 - https://www.girl-who-reads.com/2022/04/two-excellent-novels-highlight-women-in.html
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I was looking forward to reading Sandra Dallas's new novel, Little Souls, but now that I've finished, I must conclude it wasn't her best creation. 

The flu pandemic is an intriguing topic, and there aren't too many books on this historical fiction genre, so I was expecting a great read. Unfortunately, this novel tried to include too many subthemes - WWI, domestic violence, child molestation, and a murder mystery. I get it that a book has to have some conflict and a problem to solve, but in this case, the multiple themes never gelled into a unified plot. In addition, it felt like the author made a list of early 1900s slang and then checked each phrase off as she incorporated it into the text. Other aspects of the story and writing also felt formulaic. I'll continue to read Dallas's novels, as I generally enjoy her books,  but this one was "eh."  

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook version of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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2 sisters during WWI and the Spanish flu. So many things go wrong, so much heartbreak. So much sadness, but so much strength in these sisters. Had me hooked from the beginning, cheering for them, hoping that there would be some happiness! Loved the ending.
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It is not often that you will see me handing out 5-star reviews or recommending books. Well, this is one book that I must do both for.

This is an amazing book, but you must be prepared for it delves into many issues we are dealing with today, and they are not pretty.

Trigger Warnings include but are not limited to-Covid/Spanish flu, incest, rape, murder, war, sexism, and so much heartache that I don't know how I stood it. But I did because this book just had to have had a happy ending. It just ha to-and it did.

You do need to do a little suspension of disbelief with Little Souls because it was difficult for me to grasp how much could go wrong and did. How many lives were lost. It just boggled my mind. However, the author handles this all with aplomb and has you believing every word and action the characters make/take.

This book reminds me of another author who tackled a similar look at what was happening in America during this same period and pandemic. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you are in luck if you choose to read another book similar to this one.The Orphan Collector

This book, Little Souls, is superior, though.

This was a fantastic historical fiction novel, and I will surely be visiting my library to read more written by Sandra Dallas.

*ARC supplied by the publisher St. Martin's Press, the author Sandra Dallas, and NetGalley. Many thanks.
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Helen and Lutie are two sisters making their way through life during WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic. Helen, a nurse, and Lutie, a striving artist, purchase a house in Colorado after the death of their parents and rent out the basement to help make ends meet. The sisters end up caring for the young child of their tenant after she dies of the flu.

When Lutie arrives home one evening, she is startled to find Helen and Dorothy, the child, standing over a dead man's body, Helen with an ice pick in her hand. The sisters decide quickly to move the body and disguise it as a flu victim. This starts a very interesting chain of events.

The story is told going back and forth in time, and the murder mystery gets more and more complex and disturbing. There are a few surprises along the way, and although some aspects wrap up a little too neatly, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading. It is a very well-written story.

Thanks to NetGalley, Sandra Dallas, and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this book, which I read on Kindle.
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1918 in Colorado is hardly an easy year for anyone. The Spanish Flu, a natural biological disaster is killing young people and terrifying everyone. This is so eerily  close to our current situation with Covid. 

Yet, there is also a war looming. I have read several books similar with this theme. What sets this book apart is the relationship between the two sisters, Helen who is a nurse and Lutie who went to design school and now is overqualified for her job at a Specialty Shop. Yet, life will get more difficult for the sisters in the next couple of years. Both of their parents have died, so that is how they purchase a small house in Colorado. They rent out the basement to a family, where the father is abusive to his wife and the sisters suspect also his daughter, Dorothy. Maud, the mom gets the Spanish Flu and dies. The father is certainly not the type equipped to raise a young daughter properly. So, both sisters decide to let Dorothy stay with them and she becomes a third sister. 

In times like these, the support of your family is probably what is going to save you or at least keep you going until better times come along. Lutie and Helen are each strong women in their own right, but it’s this relationship that makes the book special. That  they love Dorothy is a wonderful relationship as well. It is certain that no matter what hardship comes to any of them, the other sister will help out always. Both will do everything to protect Dorothy from further damage and trauma. So, this is the heartwarming part of the book. It carrying them through some extremely rough times. This core relationship helps as they get older and enter new relationships. 

So, that is why I liked this book so much. If you feel you have just one family member you can count on, this often changes the course of your life. So, yes a sad and upsetting story at times, but an uplifting one, too. We all need people that really love us no matter what the circumstances. 

I had this as a Kindle Book and also the audio version. I listened a lot to the audio 🎧 since I was driving a long distance yesterday. The audio was clear, easy to understand, and the narration was good. However, when I got to my hotel there were passages I liked and wanted to read in the book and did. I also finished the last few chapters reading them. I liked the combination. I think you could have the book alone or the audio alone and still enjoy this story. I just liked hearing the different characters speak their emotions and also seeing some deeper passages that were written. 

Thank you St. Martin, Sandra Dallas, St. Martins, and Macmillan Audio for providing an ARC of both the e-book and the audio.
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Set in 1918 Colorado, Little Souls is a phenomenal story about family, heartache, love, sorrow and hope.  The horrific effects of war are far reaching and exacerbated by Spanish Flu which claims millions of lives.  Bodies are left in the streets and people fear touching things and people.  Death is a constant but so is family.  Ties can be remarkably strong as evinced in this novel.  Author Sandra Dallas has a stunning way with her writing that leaves me breathless at times, stirring deep emotions, causing me to reflect.  So cliche but her books leave me yearning for more!

With an inheritance nurse Helen and her artistic sister Lutie moved to Denver after their parents died.  They took in tenants and when young Dorothy's parents died the sisters immediately decided to "adopt" Dorothy as their sister.  Their unbreakable bond is gorgeous and touching.  Helen's fiance Peter is fighting in the war and Helen's beloved Gil is a medical student.  Watching relationships change throughout is riveting stuff.  Additionally, there are mysterious elements which meld beautifully with history and bits of romance.

My favourite aspects are the wonderful characters and incredibly vivid historical details written in such a way it seems as though the author had been there herself.  Not only that but the twists are marvelous.  The story is captivating, engrossing and emotive, so much so I had tears in my eyes and felt myself present in the thick of things on every page.

Rabid Historical Fiction readers ought to read this.  To those who have not yet discovered the joy of Historical Fiction, there could not be a more wonderful introduction.

My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this glorious book!
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Little Souls is a gripping read that tells the story of Helen, Lutie and Dorothy during World War I and the Spanish influenza that killed so many people.

Helen and Lutie are sisters that each have their story to tell  and their hardships they have endured.

Little Souls has it all:  murder, secrets, lies but most importantly tenacity, determination and family

I laughed with the girls, cried with the girls and cheered them up through ups and downs.

Little Souls is a book that you get lost in and the lights stay on to the last page.

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for a captivating read.
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An historical novel of the Spanish flu epidemic set in Denver—I couldn’t resist! It was so interesting to read of the similarities and differences in the handling of that 1918-19 epidemic compared to our current one. The author exposes all of the horrors and heartaches without becoming maudlin, though a few handy tissues are a good idea. Somehow she lets the love of perhaps a more civilized time come through.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC to read and review.
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Dream About Clowns

Set in 1918, Denver Colorado, in the middle of WWI and the Spanish Flu Epidemic. This book hits close to home with the current Covid pandemic in our country. The masks, the closures, and the shortage of medical staff to deal with the epidemic. Schools in Denver were closed to use the schools as hospitals for those ill with the Spanish Flu.

Two sisters, Helen and Lutie struggle with day to day activities during this time. Lutie's fiancee Peter is overseas fighting, Helen is a nurse engaged to a doctor. Both Helen and her fiancee are working frantically to save those ill with the influenza.

With everything going on in the city, due to the influenza and because of it Lutie and Helen find themselves in charge of a young girl when her mother dies from the flu and her father abandons her. That's small stuff compared to tragedies and trials that follow later in the story.
It is truly a harrowing story but filled with loved for one small child that has everyone under her spell and the sisters willing to do anything to save her.

This was a great read and I would recommend it.

Thanks to Sandra Dallas for writing a great story, to St. Martins Press for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review. All Comments are my own.
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I was drawn to this book by the title and the cover. Historical novels are one of my favorites at the moment. 

Little Souls is about 2 sisters living in Denver during the Spanish flu pandemic. One is a nurse (Helen) and the other (Lutie)draws advertising for a store. The 2 sisters are both sweet young ladies though the older one is withholding a huge secret. They both have  a love interest.

Many intriguing elements are present: love, loss, murder, sickness, kidnapping, bootleggers. There are some tense moments because of these elements. 

But, somehow the story misses the mark for me. It held promise for me at the beginning but I just could not get excited about picking it up every time I got a spare moment. I can't really pinpoint the reason why. Perhaps not enough depth. The majority of reviews give it 4 and 5 stars, so I am assuming this is a “me problem”. Perhaps I am trying to read this at the wrong time for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an Advance Readers Copy to me.
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Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this book.

Little Souls deals with some very tough subject matters so it was difficult to read at times. Thankfully, it was not overly descriptive for which I was thankful.

Two sisters, Helen and Lutie Hite find themselves on their own after their parents die. They decide to move to Denver Colorado in 1918 to start anew. Helen is a nurse and Lutie is a fashion designer that writes ads for a high end retail store. She is an artist and designer but hasn't been able to fully put her dreams to work. Helen finds herself working overtime as a nurse dealing with the Spanish Flu. Helen has a boyfriend that is also a Dr. and she works with him a lot. Lutie is dating Peter who is thinking of going into ministry but instead goes to war. They take in a 10 year old little girl who loses her mother to the flu and the father has left. Helen, Lutie and now Dorothy become a family of sorts. There is a lot of abuse and trauma in this little girl's life and a lot of grief for Lutie. Peter dies at war, Lutie gets the flu and recovers and then Helen also gets the flu.

Can Lutie protect little Dorothy from evil that is lurking? The ending is very sweet and after all the hardships that we read it is nice to have a good ending.
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Little Souls 
by Sandra Dallas
Pub Date: April 26, 2022
St. Martin's Press
Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press, and Netgalley for the ARC of this book. 
Sandra Dallas's Little Souls is a gripping tale of sisterhood, loyalty, and secrets set in Denver amid America’s last deadly flu pandemic.
* Historical Fiction * 20th Century  * WWI
Sandra Dallas presents a time period in history where the trials of life were around every corner. People leaned in on the bare necessities and weren't privy to more sophisticated means of "dealing" with the cruelties of challenges and tragedies. You just walked full force into the storm.
Little Souls is well-written and well-presented with the question asked of just how we address the failings of humanity in the winds of the present. Great book! 
4 stars
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Historical fiction is my first love. It seems 9/10 historical fiction books are all about WW2 so this was a refreshing break and such a unique peak into the late 1910s, WW1 and the Spanish Flu. A delightful read!
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