Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Nightingale Christmas Wish by Donna Douglas

4 Star

As Christmas 1938 approaches, the staff at the Nightingale Hospital have their own wishes for the festive season.

Ward sister Frannie Wallace is hoping she won't have to live through another war like the one that claimed her beloved fiance. But with bomb defences going up all around London, it seems as if her hopes are in vain.

Staff Nurse Helen Dawson wants to find happiness again after the death of her husband Charlie. A handsome stranger seems to offer the chance she wants. But is she looking for love in the wrong place?

Matron Kathleen Fox struggles to keep up morale amongst her nurses as the hospital faces the threat of evacuation. But while everyone else worries about the future of the Nightingale, it's for her own future that Kathleen truly fears.

As the country prepares itself for war, one thing is for sure - by the time next Christmas comes, nothing at the Nightingale Hospital will be the same again.

This is one of those books I wish I could share with my grandmother- it has all the elements of that good "yarn" she was always referring too. The setting is just as it was in the first novel of the series and I’m lucky enough to have all the ones in the middle on my shelf ready to curl up with on a winter morning.  These novels have an element of Call the Midwife about them which makes me a bit nostalgic- I wasn’t personally around in those eras but my mother and grandmother were and my mum tells me stories that are similar to the Call the Midwife series and these novels as well- reading them makes me feel closer to my past in some way.

A Nightingale Christmas Wish is the title only because this book is set around December right before the official start to the Second World War and the Nightingale hospital has to face their normal routines with a cloud of doubt about if they will even be able to remain open if war is declared.  It’s interesting to read about the intense dedication of the nurses as well as the doctors in a time when there was every reason to believe that the people and place you worked and lived could the next day be flattened and people’s lives lost. Donna Douglas creates an interesting era for love to bloom - with all that uncertainty and doubt these new connections are so tenuous and yet there seems to be a more honest love occurring than in novels set in a contemporary setting.  Without all the technology, social media and ease of today’s way of life a lot more effort and honesty had to be put into relationships.

Because this novel has the nurses in it who appear throughout the series I think there’s something to be said for reading them in order- however I wasn’t able to do that this time and despite having some gaps in the career paths of the women I still gained a lot of enjoyment out of this novel’s romantic story lines.

Thank you to Random House UK for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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