The Nightingale Girls is the first book in a five-part series that follows three young student nurses from their first year of training in the prestigious Nightingale hospital in London in 1936.
I have a not so secret love for old school nursing stories; think of ‘Call the Midwife’ and you’re on a similar track here.
The three girls share a room together and they couldn’t be any more different. Dora is a tough east-ender from a poor background with an abusive stepfather and is determined to get away from that and make a success of herself. Helen is quiet and studious and avoids friendship with the rest of her class as she’s under pressure from her overbearing mother to be a model student. Finally, Millie is from an aristocratic background and wants something more from her life other than parties and being dependent on a husband.
All three struggle in their own ways with the pressures of being a student nurse in pre-war England but also with their own personal lives, their families and trying to find love.
The characters are really well developed in this way and I was so sucked into their world that I downloaded the second book, The Nightingale Sisters, straight away and devoured that just as quickly.
In the second book, the girls are in their second year of training and although they’re becoming better at their jobs they still have a lot of the same personal struggles.
As well as the hardships they face on the wards, which include unpleasant duties and long, arduous working hours, they also face the difficulties of exams being treated poorly by the ward sisters, characters who we learn more about in this book.
It turns out they’re not all bad; like most human beings they’re multidimensional and, once again, their characters are really well developed.
While it touches on some serious topics it’s also quite heart warming; to me these are the ultimate comfort reads. Number three is coming up next... I can’t wait!
– Chloe Moloney
|Book review - On call in the 1930s|