Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

genre: young adult historical fiction

In 1854, there aren't a lot of respectable opportunities for young girls in London, so when parlormaid Molly hears that a Miss Nightingale is looking for nurses to join her in the Crimea to tend to the soldiers, she will do whatever it takes to join the group.

Of course, Molly isn't actually a nurse, but she is naturally gentle, with a talent for helping the sick and there is so much to learn. Miss Nightingale runs a seriously tight ship and somehow Molly keeps ending up under her disapproving eye. Slowly, of course, Molly gets the hang of life as a war-time nurse and a certain young doctor who catches her eye makes life confusing and exciting, especially since there is a boy at home that's still in her mind.

I really enjoyed this story. I loved seeing Florence Nightingale from this angle, from the point of view of a young girl just starting out in the world who viewed Florence as some kind of nursing goddess. I think that the wartime violence and all that went with it felt accurate and appropriately painful without being overly graphic (or really all that extensive). The love triangle kept the plot going along, it surprised me sometimes, and there is a soft sense of magical realism in the story, in certain scenes, that I found intriguing (others might be a bit distracted by it in this very historical story). My only complaint, and the only reason it gets 4.5 stars instead of five, is that the ending left me with a few too many questions. Don't get me wrong, I loved the ending, actually, but it was harder for me to suspend my disbelief than I would've liked. Still, it is absolutely worth picking up,especially if you're a historical fiction buff like I am.


bermudaonion said...

That does sound really good - you've made me very curious about the ending, though.

Fyrefly said...

This sounds really intriguing, and it's not a time period that I've read anything about, so thanks for the review; it's getting added to my wishlist!

Lena Sledge said...

Sounds good. Especially since you gave it 4.5 Stars. I don't usually like historical fiction, but this sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

erika said...

sounds like a fantastic book. I'm a fan of historical fiction, I'll pick this up if I come across it. I hope the ending isn't tragic!


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