My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days
Pages - 512
Publisher - Arrow
Source - Bookstore
Blurb from Goodreads
Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in January 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie -- aka Lady Camilla -- an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned. This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.
Dora is an unlikely candidate to succeed and train as one of The Nightingale Girls, she isn't polished, poor and has a secret. Helen is avoided by almost all other nurses/students as the daughter of one of the hospital leaders she cannot be trusted and she has priors but is all as it seems with Helen? And Millie, a lady of worth who really doesn't need to do nursing yet she loves it and wants to see it through despite her grand mother just wanting to marry her off! The three are thrown together under the strict rule of the matrons, their superiors and nurses who run a tight shift and take no nonsense. Pass with flying colours, keep your nose clean or you are out!
Nurse training in the 1930s, surnames only, no fraternising with males, starched uniforms and rules rules rules. Learning on the job and knowing your place, we follow the story through three of the main characters, each with their own problems. Helen wants to be the best she can be but lives in a very minimal existence with her mother controlling every aspect of her life. Dora is escaping abuse and poverty to learn how to nurse and make something of herself and Millie just wants to be Millie and not have to worry about catching someones eye and giving the estate and heir.
Whilst there is a lot centred around nursing the heart of the book is on relationships, the girls, their colleagues, their families and why they behave the way they do. Abuse features in the book, not in great detail but enough for you to be livid and disgusted. This is the first book in a series and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the characters. Love, personal growth, courage, recovery, family and of course nursing. I do enjoy books like this and look forward to the next, I have a few in my tbr, and ordered another, 4/5 for me this time.
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