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.
Once upon a time I wanted to be a nurse. In the early 1970's I read piles of nurse romance novels, many of which were set in hospital schools of nursing where girls in blue striped pinafores moved from being probationers who did menial chores to graduate nurses who were in charge of wards. Students provided labor in exchange for training; a system that pretty much came to an end in the 1970's. However, that system started years earlier, and the Nightingale Hospital in London was one of the early adopters. Their students nurses were paid employees who lived on the grounds and were under the supervision of the hospital 24/7.
This is the the story of these three young women's first year as student nurses. It is full of period details like descriptions of the hospital wards, the social season and the East End tenements. Women of a certain age will remember when marriage was a career-ending event. Those of us familiar with the "same day surgery" concept of hospital care will contrast that with patients remaining on the wards for weeks until they were completely recovered from whatever ailed them.
I enjoyed watching these three girls, their friends and their enemies grow during this formative year in their lives and I look forward to reading the other books in the series. If it is important to you, the only sex scenes in the book were abusive and if you didn't realize what was happening you wouldn't know what it was from the description given. The book is set in England and uses English spellings and words (most notably "Sister" for a charge nurse.)
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade: B+