The Nightingale novels are set in the Florence Nightingale Teaching Hospital, a fictional hospital in London’s East End, in the 1930s. They’re full of characters with a story to tell, from the hard-done-by student nurses to the fearsome ward sisters and demanding doctors.
A nurse’s life in those days was harsh, to say the least. They trained for three years, during which time they ‘lived in’ under the watchful eye of the Home Sister. They were not allowed visitors beyond the front door of the nurses’ home, and they had to be in bed for lights out (although they devised ingenious ways to get around this particular rule). In some hospitals, a student faced instant dismissal for even speaking to a man (they seemed to get round this one, too, as my own Nightingale Girls demonstrate!). They worked 14 hour shifts, and apart from three short breaks they were expected to be on their feet the whole time. And woe betide a young nurse who broke a thermometer, spoke back to a ward sister or even walked through a door before a senior member of staff – she could expect a severe dressing down from Matron!
To write about young women living, loving and having fun under this kind of strict regime is really enjoyable. Not to mention the cast of sisters, staff nurses, porters and cleaners who also make up the Nightingale Hospital.
Thanks to them, I have dozens of stories to tell, and I hope you enjoy reading them!