'It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh' Adam Kay
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.
We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient's agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.
In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.
'A powerful insight into the life of nurses' The Times, Books of the Year
'A remarkable book about life and death and so brilliantly written it makes you hold your breath' Ruby Wax
Novelist Watson (Where Women Are Kings) portrays the constant chaos and deep sense of purpose she experienced while training to be and working as a nurse in England in this rewarding memoir. "Each hospital is a country, unique and separate, with an infrastructure and philosophy different from the next one," yet she shows the "language of kindness" to be a universal one among nurses. In descriptions of working on the mental health ward for the first time, of first assisting at a birth, and of carefully extricating a premature infant "from his bed of wires" to cuddle with his mother, whom he stares at "for the longest time without blinking." There's not a linear personal story to this book. It zigzags through the different wards she works in and the types of nursing she does, touches on nursing theorists, and moves back and forth in time as she passes through different life phases. The result is less conventional memoir than appreciation of a profession. "Somewhere between science and art," nursing "is all about the smallest details, and understanding how they make the biggest difference," Watson observes. Her recollections of inhabiting this in-between space are revealing and will be especially resonant for people who work in health care. Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the author's first name and incorrectly stated the narrative took place in the 1990s.