I started this before we went on holiday to New York City. I was going to leave it at home and pick it up again when back in the UK. But I found I couldn’t leave the story half way through; I had to know what happened to nurse Millie, her friends and family. When we returned from sightseeing in NY, I rushed back to Millie’s world, it was my little slice of the UK while I was abroad.
I didn’t watch *that midwifery programme* and I have to admit, I did expect this to be an easy, slow story, with not an awful lot happening.
How wrong was I?
It has a lot more plot twists and turns than I'd expected - work changes, confrontations with patients etc, family issues, romance issues, supporting student nurses, all flow through the story. There were a few times when I thought, I know where this is going, and was completely wrong. And I loved it.
There are loads of beautiful period details - Lyons tea rooms, the clothes, hairstyles, food of the time, scenes in dance halls, all shine through the narrative. I felt like I was learning something about the time, as well as being entertained. A cardboard wedding cake during rationing there wouldn't have been enough ingredients to make a real one. I found the details about nursing at that time, very interesting, since it’s so different from my experience of being a health care assistant – I’m sure Millie would have said nursing auxiliary – between ’97-’02.
The patients are all well drawn and I felt like I wanted to hear more about them, as well as Millie’s story. I know this is unrealistic as it focussed on Millie’s story, but it shows how engaging and real the patients were.
Halfway through there's a very moving scene which made me cry which I always think is a bit magic about a book. It is so beautifully described although sad. The air hostess asked me if I was alright on the flight, I was crying so much! I think I cried at least three times during the book. Because I’m a bit of a tart like that, this is the sign of a good story for me.
The dialogue is spot on for East London and I recognise many phrases from granddad and my parents. It was so interesting seeing how different society was then, with neighbours helping each other out .
It was interesting seeing how the NHS was set up, and the reaction from patients who were happy to ‘pay their way and not accept charity’ from the NHS. I can't wait to read the next part of Millie's story.
Did you watch *that midwifery programme*? If you like stories with strong interesing women, well drawn engaging characters, and a narrative with more twists and turns than an Eastenders Christmas episode, you should spend some time in Nurse Millie's world. This again, shows how valuable it is to read things you wouldn’t normally read.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx