The Kindle version of this book by the late Beverley Hughesdon was going cheap, and I needed to stock up for some long flights with very limited baggage allowance, so I thought I’d give it a go. I was expecting to be about an aristocratic woman nursing during the Great War, like Song of Songs was, but it was actually about an aristocratic woman nursing in the East End several years before the Great War, which was something different.
It wasn’t all that great, to be honest; but it was readable and, hey, for 99p, never mind! The idea was that a beautiful, wealthy, intelligent aristocratic girl, pursued by various very eligible suitors – and there was a whole load of rather empty babbling about various other people and their admirers – decided to break away from the round of court balls and house parties etc, and become a nurse at a hospital in the East End. As you do. And she made friends with another nurse, who was a working-class socialist … but ended up marrying an earl, who’d divorced his first wife because she’d been having it off with some other aristocratic bloke, who had previously proposed to our heroine.
Er, yes. The plotlines aren’t going to win any awards for realism. But at least there were none of the absolutely cringeworthy bad taste bedroom scenes that featured in Song of Songs, Roses Have Thorns and The Silver Fountain. The author – who lived in Prestwich, incidentally – used to teach at Derby High in Bury, and I found myself wondering how I’d feel – bearing in mind that I was only 13 or 14 when I read Song of Songs – if one of my old teachers had written books containing stuff like that. Ugh. You just don’t want to go there, do you?! Having said all that, the actual wartime part of Song of Songs was excellent, and I was hoping for something like that in this book, but I didn’t really get it. However, it did contain some well-written and rather interesting scenes about nursing in a poor area in pre-NHS times, and about nursing in Edwardian times in general.
One of our heroine’s patients was visited by a vicar, in whose home her (the patient’s) grandmother worked as a cook. The said vicar was very concerned about poverty in the East End, and tried to alleviate it by … er, organising Sunday school outings to Southend. And, whaddaya know, it turned out that he was actually the son of a lord, and that he was also an old school pal of our heroine’s cousin (which she hadn’t realised, because the said cousin had always referred to him by a nickname. As public schoolboys do, natch.). She and the lordly vicar got married. The End.
Don’t go reading this if you’re after an all-time classic! But, for 99p, and when you need something to occupy you on a long flight and the luggage allowance doesn’t allow you to take as many paper books as you like, it isn’t bad.