Today I’m on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff. Anyone who follows my reviews will know that Not Your Average Nurse is definitely not my usual type of read, but when I was offered an ARC of this book I jumped at the chance. Why? because as many of you know I was a mental health nurse for 33 years. I started nursing when I was 18 back in the early 1980’s cough!cough!
Also I grew up in the grounds of a hospital no I wasn’t ill! We lived in a “hospital house” my parents both worked for the NHS my mum as a nurse and my dad as a manager overseeing the hospital (sadly the hospital no longer exists). So my whole life has been pretty much based around nursing, hospitals and the workings of one, so I was only to happy to read the memoirs of a nurse, whilst hoping to take a trip down memory lane. Before you read my review I have a guest post from the author herself, happy reading………
The Five Best Writing Tips I Was Ever Given
When I started writing with serious intent, which was about twenty-five years ago, I grabbed at any helpful pointers that were offered to me. And while everything was useful, there were five standout tips that were invaluable back then and are still relevant to my writing today:
- Carry a notebook and pen. Write down ideas, names, sentences, descriptions etc. immediately you hear or think of them. You will not remember them later. I will say that again. You will not remember them later.
- Define your writing space and time and inform others. It doesn’t have to be fancy or quiet, but it does have to be a set amount of time in a particular space where you will not be interrupted. This also means that you will not have the internet connected at your workspace.
- Write how you speak, as if you are talking to a friend. This helps maintain your voice in print and focus on your audience. Up until Not Your Average Nurse, which was written for my daughter, I used the same female friend as my audience for both fiction and non-fiction. Of course, my friend has no idea that I do this.
- On every page, think of what your friend/audience needs to know. Do you need to give a gentle reminder of a character’s name or place in your story? Has a character just switched on a television when you still have them sitting in a car and you have forgotten to move them indoors?
- Do not read other books while writing your own. The author’s style and syntax can distort your own sentence rhythm. However, if you wish to emulate Dickens or Hardy, read through their works and hope that you start channelling their talent. I used to try to write daily exercises in the style of famous authors. I wrote about simple things like preparing dinner and helping in the school canteen. You have no idea what a mess Hemingway made of the school trip to the zoo.
To a young girl the life of a nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks on her training at London’s King’s College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with a demanding career. It’s sink or swim.
From the watchful gaze of stern sisters and the trials of nursing on a poor south-east London housing estate, to the explosive dramas of staff health checks at sophisticated Selfridges, Maggie shares warm and witty stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.
I’m not a huge fan of biographies but I found Not Your average Nurse to be an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable read. The author Maggie Groff enrolled as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital in the 1970’s, rebellious from the start, you can’t help wondering if the authors choose the right career, it was obvious from the opening chapter she hadn’t put much thought into her career choice and it’s not long before the long hours, regulations and the constant cleaning make the author question whether she has made the right decision. Set against an NHS where order and authority prevailed, the author portrays the difficulties of being a student nurse in the 1970’s. Did you know? even as late as the 1970’s you weren’t allowed to train as a student nurse if you were married! So it was interesting to read how entrenched reviews and practices have changed over the years.
Maggie Groff writes with humour and compassion that draw you into the life a student nurse in the 1970’s, despite the hard work, the heartbreak the author also shares her humorous memories, the parties, breaking the rules, and living the student life in London which made for a captivating read. The author shares her fears and heartbreak, her joys and frustrations, and her memories of the patients she cared for.
I couldn’t help but smile as she described some scenes as it reminded me very much of my own introduction to nursing. I did have a small niggle with this book as a student, the author complained about the low pay (which it was) but still managed to holiday in Ibiza and shop at Habitat. I’m sure this wasn’t the case for most of the student nurses during this era, as many struggled to live day to day on their low wages, after they had paid for lodgings, laundry and food, but that’s only my opinion and no way distracted from an entertaining read.
Not Your Average Nurse is a honest and candid autobiography that brings the caring vocation of nursing in the 1970’s vividly back to life. Played out against the march of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the iconic music and movies of almost half a century ago. This book won’t be for everyone but if you enjoy reading memoirs and books of this theme then this might just be the book for you, both my parents read it and throughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane..
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Corgi (18 May 2017)
Maggie Groff is an award-winning novelist, columnist and non-fiction writer living and working in Australia. As a young woman in England she trained as a state registered nurse at King’s College Hospital, London, and worked at several London hospitals before securing a position as an in-house nurse at Selfridges. From there Maggie went on to pursue a richly varied and, at times, unusual nursing career.
Aware that her daughter had no knowledge of her working life prior to becoming an author, she was inspired to write this memoir.
Follow the rest of the blog tour……..