THE BRAND NEW NIGHTINGALES NOVEL
BY SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA DOUGLAS
It's Christmas, 1945. The war is over, but its scars remain.
Matron Kathleen Fox has the job of putting the Nightingale Hospital back together. But memories and ghosts of those lost fill the bomb-damaged buildings, and she wonders if she is up to the task.
In the name of festive cheer Kathleen decides to put on a Christmas Show for the patients. The idea is greeted with mixed feelings by the nurses, who are struggling with their own post-war problems. And the newly-formed rivalry between newcomer Assistant Matron Charlotte Davis and ward sister Violet Tanner isn’t helping matters.
As rehearsals begin however, it seems the show isn’t just a tonic for the patients – could the Nightingale Christmas Show be just what the doctor ordered for the nurses too?
The Nightingale Christmas Show by Donna Douglas takes us to London’s East End in November of 1945. The war is finally over, and Matron Kathleen Fox is eager to see the Nightingale restored. It suffered from bombings and they lost some treasured staff members. Kathleen is not sure she is up to the task and is considering a new position in Lancashire. She would dislike seeing the new assistant matron, Charlotte Davis take over her position. Charlotte manages to fault with every ward they visit plus she lacks warmth and empathy. Charlotte is all for efficiency and order. One evening Kathleen and her friend, Violet Tanner enjoy a show at Players Theatre Club and run into Kathleen’s former lover, James Cooper who is accompanied by his wife, Simone. James pays Kathleen a visit the next day and presents her with unexpected proposition. To raise morale in the hospital with the patients and staff, Kathleen decides they will host a Christmas Show. She decides to put Charlotte in charge of the project much to the assistant matron’s dismay. The Christmas Show could just be the boost everyone needs if Charlotte can pull it off.
The Nightingale Christmas Show is written differently from the other novels in the series. The story is told from different characters point-of-view. We get to see how each person views what is happening at the hospital along with what is going on in their life. I found it a little strange and repetitive. We start with one character, go forward a few days and then it switches to a different character and goes back to the beginning (and repeat). While it is a different format, I still enjoyed catching up on the lives of the nurses at the Nightingale. I would have preferred the story told from the third person (my personal preference). However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. I recommend reading the books in the Nightingales series in order. Each book builds upon the previous one in the series. We get to catch up with Kathleen Fox, Peggy Atkins, Miriam Trott, Violet Tanner, Dora Riley and Veronica Hanley (now a ghost who likes to bother Kathleen). The characters are friendly, likeable and well-developed. I have enjoyed following these ladies on their journey as they became nurses and navigated the war. I would have liked to know more about Dora Riley and the other trainees from the earlier books. The Nightingale Christmas Show has a great ending, but it seemed like this was the final book (I hope not). I think it would be great if the author introduced a new set of nursing students to the series and we can follow them on their journey along with our regular characters. I am giving The Nightingale Christmas Show 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). If you like the show Call the Midwife, then you will appreciate the Nightingale series. The Nightingale Christmas Show is a heartwarming tale that could make a pleasant read during the holiday season.