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The Nightingale Girls

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Title: The Nightingale Girls

Author: Donna Douglas

Publisher: Arrow Books

Reviewer: Mrs Louise Goodyear, 1st year adult student nurse

What was it like?

The Nightingale girls is a fantastic step back in time and shows how nurses were trained in the 1930s. Three different young girls – Dora, Helen and Millie – were aspiring to become nurses in 1934 lead this book in to what I found to be a really good read.

They all come from different walks of life, and this alone is really interesting and I enjoyed how it showed that at times it was tough but even the privileged girls struggled to follow their dreams at times and not just the poorer girls.


We see throughout the book how their training in the Nightingale Preliminary Training School was harsh, not like today, and strict. I enjoyed comparing my first few weeks at university when I started my course to that of Dora and how scared and excited she was. I was too!

What were the highlights?

There are many highlights of this book, and not to give too much away, it will have the reader in suspense and also admiration at how tough their lives were but how they each worked through their struggles to make friends, and forge careers in nursing.

Strengths and weaknesses

Overall I found The Nightingale Girls to be a really enjoyable book. Not my usual genre at all so I did perhaps struggle a little at first but one I was past the second chapter I really got into the book as Dora is eagerly awaiting her acceptance letter to say she has a place at the Nightingale school, I was on tenterhooks, fingers crossed that she did.

Who should read it?

This book would appeal to a vast audience, student nurses, qualified nurses, and even the general public and especially a more mature reader who would perhaps have experienced similar struggles in their lives. I thoroughly recommend this book, and the author has captured what life was like in the 1930s really well.

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