I am a huge fan of historical novels that combine facts with a fictional story. The Nightingale Girls series looked like the perfect British read for me and I could not wait to start reading it! All three books definitely lived up to my expectations and more.
In the first book of this series, The Nightingale Girls finds three very different young girls signing up as student nurses in 1986, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender driven by ambition but also desperate to escape her overcrowded home and abusive stepfather. Helen, the quiet one, is a mystery to her fellow nurses and avoids fun and gossip. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother who dominates every aspect of her life. The third character, Millie is a rebellious aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with the terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned.
Book one really brings the personalities of the characters into life. Each young lady is so different and yet so similar. Donna Douglas makes it easy to imagine the life of each class in England in this time period. I found it hard to imagine the lives of women during this era and the restraints that they were under but I also loved how each young lady was driven by something different but each one is looking to find themselves and gain independence and respect.
Book two in this series, The Nightingale sisters we are introduced to new characters but our familiar ones are still with us. The student nurses live in fear of the ward sisters whom they view as heartless and frightening with impossibly high standards. But the sisters also have troubles of their own.
Violet, the new night sister is carrying a dark secret that she refuses to let anyone know. As her mysterious life deepens, Sister Wren is determined to find out the truth. In this series, Dora is struggling with her own secrets and her heartbreak of losing Nick, the man she lost to her best friend. A new arrival on the ward brings the chance to put a smile back on her face but she finds it hard to get over Nick so easily. Millie is torn between two men but then an unexpected friendship with an elderly patient makes her question where her heart and future truly lies.
I thought it would be difficult to beat book one but the second book does not disappoint! The characters begin to grow as they grow their studying. It is incredible to watch them grow and learn but still remain true to their personalities. Violet adds quite the new twist into the story and opens up the kinder side to the Sisters that we do not always witness. I completely love the way Donna writes and pulls you right into the story and the characters lives. You feel like you are right there in the hospital learning and growing with them.
In the final book in The Nightingale series, The Nightingale Nurses find themselves in their final year of training and the most difficult and demanding part of their career. Helen is at a crossroads in her life as she battles her mother over both her love life and future career. Dora is not able to stop loving Nick who is now married to her best friend Ruby but Ruby is hiding an awful secret that could destroy her marriage and friendship. Millie is anxious for her fiance who is sent to Spain to cover the Civil War and matters on get worse when she encounters a fortune teller who delivers a sinister warning about their future.
In the final book in this series, Donna Douglas serves up so much adventure, excitement and heart break it is hard to believe she managed to do it all in one book! I can not picture any other ending then the one she delivered (even if I wished for just one more book!). The nurses find themselves in this book and develop into the young women that will go out in to the world to work, to serve and to care for others.
This series is incredible! Each book is definitely a 5++++! I could not put these books down and was literally reading non stop. If you love British novels then these are for you and if not give them a try! You may just be surprised.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of these books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my won.