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The desert nurse : a grand love story set in a theatre of war

par Pamela Hart

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Amid the Australian Army hospitals of World War I in Egypt, two deeply determined individuals find the resilience of their love tested to its limits. It's 1911, and 21-year-old Evelyn Northey desperately wants to become a doctor. Her father forbids it, withholding the inheritance that would allow her to attend university. At the outbreak of World War I, Evelyn disobeys her father, enlisting as an army nurse bound for Egypt and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Under the blazing desert sun, Evelyn develops feelings for polio survivor Dr William Brent, who believes his disability makes him unfit to marry. For Evelyn, still pursuing her goal of studying medicine, a man has no place in her future. For two such self-reliant people, relying on someone else for happiness may be the hardest challenge of all. From the casualty tents, the fever wards and the operating theatres of the palace; through the streets of Cairo during Ramadan, to the parched desert and the grim realities of war, Pamela Hart tells the heart-wrenching story of four years that changed the world forever.… (plus d'informations)

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Pamela Hart’s novels are a fail-safe read for me. I simply know that they will be interesting with strong female characters and a happy ending. Naturally, The Desert Nurse was a great read for me.

The central character in The Desert Nurse is Evelyn Northey. Evelyn is desperate to become a doctor, but her father (also a doctor) is vehemently against it. Her role is to get married and have children – oh, and work for him as an unpaid nurse. Evelyn has money in a trust which would fund her studies, but her father refuses to release it. So Evelyn becomes a nurse while waiting to turn thirty to access her money. When World War I begins, she sees it as a way to escape her father, learn and earn money. Evelyn is shipped off to Egypt where she will learn a lot more than she expected. She also comes into contact with Dr William Brent, who did her army physical. He is a polio survivor, who wasn’t accepted into the army due to the residual effects on his leg. But William is made of sterner stuff, and takes off the Egypt where (as he correctly surmised) they need doctors, no matter where they came from. William and Evelyn make a good team, but neither wanted to fall in love. Evelyn has her future career to think about, while William is convinced that he’s a bad bet, unworthy of love. Can they overcome their fears?

I really enjoy the period that Pamela writes in (around the time of World War I) because I learn things too. This time I found out about Heliopolis Palace, a grand hotel turned into a hospital in Egypt for the Australian Army. (Google it – it’s 100% true). The scenes where the wounded keep rolling in and even the next door amusement park becomes a hospital (complete with operating theatre) are richly detailed. It’s not gory, but matter of fact as the staff do their best with what they have. As Evelyn and William move through different areas and types of hospitals/casualty clearing stations, I got a taste of what life was like on the front line where there wasn’t time to do things delicately or even complete a procedure. It’s an example of war being one dirty great machine that worked well when it came to casualties. You might think stories of wounds and operations would get a bit boring after some time, but it doesn’t. The plot has been carefully planned, entwining the processes of war with the developing relationship between William and Evelyn. Evelyn’s friendship with fellow nurse Hannah is also a key part to the story and a link to A Letter From Italy, through Rebecca’s brother Linus. The finale was also great where Evelyn challenges her inheritance. In the midst of war, I’d forgotten all about it! Evelyn’s fight is a reminder of how far women’s rights have come in just over a century. Can you imagine a woman not being able to access what it rightfully hers today? It simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Overall, The Desert Nurse has it all – memorable characters, exotic settings, gripping plot and a modern love story. It’s both uplifting and a sober reminder of the horrors of war.

Thank you to Hachette for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
1 voter birdsam0610 | Jul 14, 2018 |
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Amid the Australian Army hospitals of World War I in Egypt, two deeply determined individuals find the resilience of their love tested to its limits. It's 1911, and 21-year-old Evelyn Northey desperately wants to become a doctor. Her father forbids it, withholding the inheritance that would allow her to attend university. At the outbreak of World War I, Evelyn disobeys her father, enlisting as an army nurse bound for Egypt and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Under the blazing desert sun, Evelyn develops feelings for polio survivor Dr William Brent, who believes his disability makes him unfit to marry. For Evelyn, still pursuing her goal of studying medicine, a man has no place in her future. For two such self-reliant people, relying on someone else for happiness may be the hardest challenge of all. From the casualty tents, the fever wards and the operating theatres of the palace; through the streets of Cairo during Ramadan, to the parched desert and the grim realities of war, Pamela Hart tells the heart-wrenching story of four years that changed the world forever.

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