Review: Little Souls: A Novel by Sandra Dallas


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Interest

I’ve read a couple of other books by Sandra Dallas (see the bottom of this post) and I keep hoping there will be one of her books that I really love. I’ve be “fine” with them, there were “fine,” I just want to be wowed by this author. This story seemed to have that potential. It’s a timely story beings set in the Spanish Flu epidemic that began in the last year of World War I, 1918 and lasted until 1920. It also features two independent ladies–sisters, who move to a new place all on their own. And, for once, that place wasn’t New York, but Denver, Colorado.

The Story

Sisters Lutie, an illustrator, and Helen, a nurse, move to Denver and find work. Lutie illustrates ads for a department store and Helen works at a hospital. They rent the basement of their house out for extra income. A family moves in with an unstable husband, a long-suffering wife, and a little daughter who needs protecting.

Meanwhile, both of the sisters find prospective husbands–Helen, naturally finds a young doctor, and Lutie, unexpectedly lands the son of a local judge–a powerful and wealthy man. The sisters watch as America enters the war–Lutie’s finance ships out with the other Doughboys. Meanwhile, in the basement, all is not good. The husband takes his frustrations out on his little family. When the wife dies, the daughter is left too vulnerable. Meanwhile, the flu strikes.

My Thoughts

My first thought is, why hasn’t Oprah promoted this book? Then I remembered it isn’t out until April 26th. It packs about as much depressing stuff into a story as possible. All of the normal Oprah book type stuff. Rape, murder, trafficking, incest, rats, blackmail, false accusations, disease, a hooker with a heart of gold–you name it, its in there, albeit in small doses and thankfully not graphically depicted. This has Oprah’s Book Club written all over it.

Then there were things like this: “The Rocky Mountain News said we wouldn’t need to be afraid of the influenza if we voted Republican.” Make it stop already! Trump is gone. Quit with this stuff. Stay in the time of the story, please. Wilson was President then and he was a Democrat. And then prescient statements like this: “You know…they’re saying the [flu] could kill as many people as the war…..” And then this gem” “I’d like to be a fine artist painting pictures to make people see the injustice in the world, that cause them to protest discrimination….” Right…exactly. That was happening all over the place in 1917, right? In the U.S. it was all but illegal to gather during World War I. President Wilson re-segregated the Civil Service and cracked down on anything that could stir dissent against the war or for the Germans.

I was interested enough in the sisters’ story to finish the book, but oh boy what a finish! Will the woke never end in contemporary fiction? The heart-strings were tugged as well as the corset strings. I cared about Lutie and Helen and Dorothy and admired their spirit and independence. I was impressed with the way they helped and protected Dorothy. But the author had them swear like modern day women. If Helen had been overheard swearing she’d have been fired. Probably Lutie would have, too. And women did NOT smoke in public then. None. Maybe in a Paris nightclub, but not in Conservative Denver, Colorado ice cream shop. Do not “modernize” things to appeal to today’s readers. It doesn’t work.

This story just had too many bad things going on. It was depressing more than serious. I didn’t expect all unicorns and rainbows, but I didn’t expect a Penny Dreadful either. The soliloquy by the judge’s wife made me giggle, roll my eyes AND yell “Oh, please” and it was supposed to be serious. I also thought the Epilogue was silly and shouldn’t have been there. It seemed like a sop to book clubs (or a ruse by the editor to keep the author from writing a sequel?)

My Verdict


Little Souls by Sandra Dallas

My Reviews of Other Books by this author:

A Quilt for Christmas

The Persian Pickle Club

I also read this book for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Historical Fiction

12 thoughts on “Review: Little Souls: A Novel by Sandra Dallas

Add yours

  1. It does sound like the characters experienced the seven plagues of the Apocalypse or whatever. It’s so difficult to do really good historical fiction; as you say, too many authors insert contemporary touches that really spoil the mood. Or, they go to the other extreme and dump all their research on the reader. TBH this is why I seldom read historical fiction these days, despite the fact that I still love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I like historical fiction but not when the author does not stay in the time of the story like you mentioned in your review.


I enjoy reading your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: