The East End of London has been devastated by the Blitz and the people are struggling to come to terms with their ravaged city. Rationing bites ever deeper and and everything that makes life better is in short supply. For the district nurses, the challenges are tougher than ever.
Gladys loves her work in the Civil Nursing Reserve, but just when she needs to rely on her sister at home to help out with the chores, she turns into a handful of trouble. Edith is learning to cope with her boyfriend’s injuries after Dunkirk but will she have to choose between her love for him and her career?
With no end in sight, the war reaches its darkest moment … Can the nurses – and the families and patients that rely on them – find the strength to carry on?
My reading experience:
Meeting Gladys and Edith, Kathleen and Peggy was heartwarming for Christmas. Gladys trying her hardest to be the older sister but also have a career and make a difference. Edith carrying on with her nursing and all the while wondering if she can cope with having to give it up once she marries her sweetheart. The choices for women that now seem ridiculous to us were very real in the 1940s. The other thing they had to cope with was loss and grief – brothers and husbands and sweethearts in the war coming home injured or not coming home at all. Meet Kathleen though, previously married before to an unsavoury character and now waiting to marry her new love Billy who treats Kathleen’s son like his own. And Peggy who lost her husband to the war and had been salving her wounds with dancing, finding she can open her heart again when she meets James, an American GI.
As an avid reader of wartime stories I have to add a warning : these stories contain content of societal and cultural norms of the time (1939-1945) and there are themes that can be difficult for readers now to understand or even read about. So yes the story contains themes of not just war, but discrimination (injury), women as second class citizens lacking in rights (married women unable to work), and racism. There are of course themes of triumph over hardship, enduring friendship and love and compassion.
Essentially this is a lovely story for Christmas. The main theme like most of these wartime stories, is of people helping one another. Yes they were cold at times, hungry at times, sad at times, but these stories are filled with acts of love and kindness.
I recommend Christmas for the District Nurses by Annie Grove for a warming read.