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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Nightingale Girls...Review

About the book:
Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in 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 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.

I'm not sure delightful is a word I would use to describe The Nightingale Girls, but it was certainly a compelling, enjoyable read.  The blurb mentions three girls: Dora, Helen and Millie.  And while they certainly have a key role in the story, this is an ensemble piece.  What we see are several different student nurses and their stories and perspectives.  Everyone's story intertwines to make up the whole, but what is fascinating is we see how certain girls are looked upon by the others because of their personalities or life situations and then we see their perspective or life story and how it doesn't mesh with what the rest of the class observes.

I enjoyed these characters. There was some surprising depth and character development and women I didn't like in the beginning, I came to like and have compassion for them.  The realities of 1930s London and the working class is readily apparent.  This pre-war era was difficult and Dora's situation, especially with the abusive step-father is heartbreaking, but her strength is apparent and she certainly has the ability to overcome.

This series has been compared to the television show Call the Midwife.  I haven't ever seen that show, but this first book, at least, would make a great series.  I have the next two books in my queue and can't wait to read more.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Donna Douglas here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this as I've wondered if the series was any good. Thanks!!

  2. I see you've gotten hooked on NetGalley. I love it

  3. Enjoyed your Mailbox Monday. I really enjoyed reading Saving Amelie.Have a great week.