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Fetch Nurse Connie by Jean Fullerton

As I’m a blogger, I received a copy of ‘Fetch Nurse Connie’  from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Fetch Nurse Connie - Cover 18th Feb th Jan 2015..doc

 

Anyone interested in the post-world war two period will just love this. Full of great little details that really bring the past to life, this is a page-turning saga in which we meet memorable characters, and learn a lot about nursing in 1945. Connie Byrne is a determined, staunch and upright young woman facing a demanding job, and a difficult relationship with a fiance who has returned from the war with a shock in store for her. Charlie is convincingly plausible as the unreliable and self-seeking fiance, with looks to melt your heart, and Connie’s nursing friends are real individuals not just cardboard cut-outs. Connie’s journey up the ladder of the nursing profession is a difficult one, but the book does not shy away from the sexism of the times, and from the harsh realities of life in the East End of London for poorer communities.
The interest in this novel is in immersing yourself in another time and period, and in the pre-NHS nursing system, all lovingly evoked by the author.
Jean’s Blog gives lots of interesting information about her research process.

‘In order to get the detail right I have collected over the years a number of nursing text books of the period. These include nursing and midwifery dictionaries, child health books, contraceptive manuals, nurses’ exam crib sheets, 1940/50s editions of the Nursing Mirror and midwifery text books. These are all invaluable but the pride and joy of my collection is my 1947 edition of Irwin and Merry District Nursing manual. ‘  Read More
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Past Encounters by Davina Blake

PastEncounters_Ebook

If you were born in the 1950’s as I was, you will no doubt remember wartime stories passed down to you from your parents.

My parents were not old enough to fight in the second world war, but their stories of gas masks and rationing, dried egg sandwiches, and night-time forays into the Andersen shelter at the bottom of the garden, stuck with me. In particular, one story fascinated me – the one about a neighbour of theirs who was taken prisoner early in the war and spent five years in a forced labour camp for the Germans. He struggled to get over his experience more than those who had actually been fighting, and I always wondered why.

Years later, I moved to a small town ; Carnforth in Lancashire. The town itself used to have a big ironworks, long since gone, but now its one claim to fame is that it was once the scene for the famous film ‘Brief Encounter’ starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.  When I went to look around the Station Heritage Centre and found out more about the filming, I discovered the film was made in the last months of WWII. So now I had two ingredients – the story of a prisoner of war, and the story of the making of ‘Brief Encounter.’

Research led me to discover that  in February 1945,  when David Lean was filming ‘Brief Encounter’, on the very same day  we were sending bombs to decimate the beautiful cultural city of Dresden. What if these two events could be brought together? So, I had the third ingredient and an idea was born, the story of a wartime couple torn apart by war. But not just that – ten years later they are married, but neither has any idea what really went on for the other during their separation, or what it will mean for their future relationship. Wartime stories by necessity deal with larger themes of love and death, and people under extraordinary pressure. Rhoda and Peter have always hidden their pasts from each other, partly from self-preservation, and partly to shield the other from the truth. When Rhoda finds a letter from another woman, and the facts begin to surface, will Rhoda and Peter survive knowing the other’s darkest secret?

I was very attracted by the visual style of the film, ‘Brief Encounter’, its light and shadow, the way it made locations significant and tell their own story, so I have tried to keep that in my descriptions. The theme of the film is that hard choices have to be made about loyalty if a relationship is to survive, and I wanted my book to reflect this.

Whilst writing Past Encounters I interviewed people who remembered wartime Carnforth, and drank more tea and ate more biscuits than is probably good for me, whilst scribbling frantically in my notebook. I was also incredibly grateful for on-line sources such as ‘The People’s War’. Memoirs of prisoners of war and soldiers who endured the Great March of Prisoners of War through frozen Germany, also helped give a backbone to the book.

One of my aims is to show just how amazing ordinary people can be, if you scratch beneath the surface. By the end of the book Rhoda and Peter have found and lost loves, fought for survival, endured tragedy, and discovered the hidden depths that make a bond between two people true and lasting.

Amazon UK

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www.davinablake.com

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