Monday, November 13, 2023

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle, by Mary J. MacLeod

This feels very much like All Creatures Great and Small meets Call the Midwife.  I enjoyed it a lot, especially the glimpses of a way of life very different than mine.

The chapters don't always transition smoothly, but if you read it like a series of independent personal essays, that shouldn’t bother you.  However, if you read it as a series of independent essays, what might bother you are the characters that appear from several chapters back without enough reminder to the reader as to how they fit in—and the questions that get posed but never answered (and not in a thought-provoking or philosophical way).  Then the book just ends.  There’s no real tie-up, and though the last chapter is dramatic, it doesn’t really feel like a conclusion.  The epilogue is full of longing for the life they once had there, with not one word of explanation of why or when they left.  I think this is all to keep it open for the sequel, but it bothered me.  Of course, it mostly bothered me because I was invested in the people and interested in their lives—so that’s as much compliment as criticism.   

Despite any issues, I really enjoyed the book.  The writing style is easy.  The pacing is pleasantly gentle.  The observations are good.  The subject matter is really interesting.  The setting is well drawn. 

I’ll probably read the sequel.

4 stars

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