THE DESERT NURSE by Pamela Hart
Hi and welcome to 2020!
Moving many years forward from my previous throwback, I’ve chosen a more recent book— and one I took a while to recover from the depths of my 'To Be Read 'pile. It was a serious mistake to leave this one for so long as I thoroughly enjoyed The Desert Nurse and was captivated from the beginning by both the setting and the characters.
I’d read Pamela Hart’s previous three books The Soldier’s Wife, The War Bride and A Letter From Italy, in what her fans have termed the Anzac Series of historical Australian wartime narratives. I am inspired by her efforts to clearly place the reader right into the centre of the setting so convincingly. Her research is exceptional and with each story, I learn about events during the wars that I had not known before. That’s what I love about historical fiction!
Evelyn is a feisty and clever protagonist, who in 1914 is serious about becoming a doctor but forbidden to follow her dreams while living under the strict and draconian rule of her father. Determined to escape his control, when war breaks out Evelyn disobeys his authority and is accepted as a nurse, sailing for Cairo to aid the wounded from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign—her wages will pay for her to study medicine on her return home. Inevitably she encounters a doctor who she works alongside and although attracted to each other, William Brent believes that his polio-affected disability prevents him from being a suitable candidate for marriage, while Evelyn is set on her path as a doctor.
The setting of various army hospitals in Egypt and descriptions of the inner workings of hospital life and the conditions they worked under makes for a compelling read. Set over the four-year period of World War I, the pair is committed to the war effort and to their friends, one of whom is abducted and held for ransom. There is love; there is friendship and also subtle humour amongst the tears, which kept my pages turning.
Aside from being a wonderful writer with many awards to her name, Pamela has a Doctor of Creative Arts in Writing and teaches writing at the Australian Writers Centre. As it happens, in my quest to surge forward and wrangle my way through a new manuscript, Pamela has accepted me as a student and will be mentoring me along the way. I very much look forward to the process and to working with her this year.
Pamela Hart has a new release in the wings that's coming out with Hachette later this year—I can’t wait to read it. But I promise it will be much sooner this time, than my last effort!