Reviewed by Sarah Brew
London, 1945 and as the end of the war is declared and the troops start returning home, the nurses of the East End are joining in the celebrations.
For Nurse Connie Byrne the end of the war signals the beginning of a new chapter and as the revelries go on around the city, Connie's mind is on another celebration that she'll be able to arrange - the wedding to her sweetheart, Charlie, set to take place as soon as he arrives home. But when Connie meets Charlie off the train at London Bridge, she finds that his homecoming isn't quite going to go according to plan...
Connie's busy professional life, and the larger-than-life patients in the district, offer a welcome distraction, but for how long? If nursing in the East End has taught Connie anything, it's that life is full of surprises...
If you follow Call the Midwife and want a really good insightful story about nursing in the East End, albeit set a few years earlier, then you will love this book. The characters are so well depicted, you will really feel you know them well by the end of the book and you will share in the ups and downs of their lives. They are real people; they don’t always make the right decisions and that makes them all the more true-to-life.
It’s 1945 and everyone is celebrating the end of the war. Connie is looking forward to the return of her fiancé and plans for the wedding are well in hand – but life has a habit of throwing us curved balls and Connie is to find affairs take an unexpected turn. Like the East Enders whose lives she shares, Connie is a resilient character and throws herself into her work. We learn much about the way these nurses worked in a time just before the NHS, and people had to pay for their nursing care. The descriptions of the nursing care are fascinating to read and give us a real insight into home medical care of the time – the nurses did a wonderful job of caring for the sick, elderly and infirm.
This book ties in with Call Nurse Millie and All Change for Nurse Millie; some of the events overlap but it’s well managed, so that neither of the other books are spoilt if you read this first. I always enjoy re-meeting favourite characters and learning more about them, so having enjoyed the two previous books, I loved reading this one.
Jean Fullerton is a qualified District and Queen's nurse who spent most of her working life in the East End of London. This background shines through in her books, bringing a real touch of authenticity and making the books valuable pieces of social history, from both a nursing and a domestic standpoint. The attention to detail is excellent. I found myself immersed in the world of these hard-working nurses and their wide range of patients, from the very poorest to those who seem affluent but who earn their money in unexpected ways. The whole rich tapestry of East End life is depicted here, with genuine affection and warmth. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank Orion Publishing for sending a copy of Fetch Nurse Connie to Sarah to review.