Published: 10th July 2018
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher
Amid the Australian Army hospitals of World War I Egypt, two deeply determined individuals find the resilience of their love tested to its limits.
It’s 1911, and 21-year-old Evelyn Northey desperately wants to become a doctor. Her father forbids it, withholding the inheritance that would allow her to attend university. At the outbreak of World War I, Evelyn disobeys her father, enlisting as an army nurse bound for Egypt and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Under the blazing desert sun, Evelyn develops feelings for polio survivor Dr William Brent, who believes his disability makes him unfit to marry. For Evelyn, still pursuing her goal of studying medicine, a man has no place in her future. For two such self-reliant people, relying on someone else for happiness may be the hardest challenge of all.
From the casualty tents, the fever wards and the operating theatres of the palace; through the streets of Cairo during Ramadan, to the parched desert and the grim realities of war, Pamela Hart, beloved bestselling Australian author of THE WAR BRIDE, tells the heart-wrenching story of four years that changed the world forever.
Every time I hear that Pamela Hart has a new book coming out, it instantly gets added to my MUST BUY list and I wait anxiously for the day I can get my hands on it; her latest release The Desert Nurse does not disappoint.
With each new book Hart brings out, I always wonder if she can top the book before it, as each book strives a little further, hits a little deeper and educates and reminds it reader of a time we should never forget. It enlightens us about what it means to endure hardships, and the true strength of human spirit as we look closely at what those brave men and women gave up for us to live the lives we so comfortably live now. What’s more, they always leave me inspired, in awe – of both Hart’s expert story telling and the characters and their plight themselves – and a little bit baffled that I haven’t heard of some of these events before. Inevitable each book leads me to further seek out more about the time period, the people and the battles.
As a reader with quite varied tastes, and a self proclaimed history nut/lover, The Desert Nurse hit all the right beats for me. Not only has Hart delivered a superb and beautifully written and emotionally poignant story about the war effort from the perspective of EVERY ONE involved, but she contrasts the harsh conditions of the army/base hospitals and the war front to those often forgotten about battles fought back at home in Australia by those left behind. There are notes of romance, and romantic suspense elements, a journey of self discovery and acceptance, cameos made by some much loved characters, not to mention the fast paced page turning of a thoroughly gripping and absorbing novel. I simply could not put it down.
It’s no secret that during the war, women were expected to step up and take on varied roles to compensate for the men fighting over seas, what often isn’t common knowledge however is the sheer lack of rights some of these women faced, and the limiting expectations society placed upon them both during the war effort and well after it.
Hart embodies this battle through the characterisation of Evelyn Northey, a trained Nurse who dreams of becoming a doctor but is shot down at every turn thanks to the time’s patriarchal societal structure and values. Evelyn refuses to submit as those around expect her to – to both the roles forced upon her and to romantic inclinations, making her character’s strength shine so true and bright throughout the entire story. While all of Hart’s story feature strong, unique female leads, Evelyn’s character reeled me in just a little bit quicker, and threw some powerful emotional and moral bombs my way throughout the story’s arc.
The Desert Nurse is a story for any young girl whose dreamed of becoming something that others believed out of reach, it’s a love letter to the brave nurses and doctors who stood along side and in the shadow of the soldiers as they fought the gruelling battle of saving the wounded and dying. It’s a book about heart, of learning who you are and your place in the world no matter the personal cost to yourself and those around you. It’s about learning to stand up for yourself, and more importantly, what is right.
It’s the kind of book you find yourself racing through eagerly awaiting the next twist and turn of the narrative, only to find yourself hitting the end unprecedented quickly despite the books impressive 410 page strong story. I highly recommend this book to everyone; it is perhaps my favourite Hart book to date, and It’s a strong contender for my favourite book of the year right now.
To Purchase a copy of The Desert Nurse, visit the following online retailers:
Angus & Roberston’s | Booktopia | Hachette Australia | QBD | Amazon AUS | Ibooks | Kobo | Google Books
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