Friday 17 June 2016

The Angels of Lovely Lane (Lovely Lane #1) - Nadine Dorries

It is 1953 and five very different girls are arriving at the nurses' home in Lovely Lane, Liverpool, to start their training at St Angelus Hospital.

Dana has escaped from her family farm on the west coast of Ireland. Victoria is running away from a debt-ridden aristocratic background. Beth is an army brat and throws her lot in with bitchy Celia Forsyth. And Pammy has come from quite the wrong side of the tracks in Liverpool.

The world in which they now find themselves is complicated and hierarchical, with rules that must be obeyed. Everyone has their place at St Angelus and woe betide anyone who strays from it.

But when an unknown girl is admitted, after a botched late abortion in a backstreet kitchen, a tragedy begins to unfold which will rock the world of St Angelus to its foundations.

What did I think?

Although I do tend to call this type of book a "Mammy's book", I did rather enjoy my first Nadine Dorries book, Ruby Flynn, so I had no qualms about reading another and hopping on the blog tour bus.  I didn't enjoy this one as much as Ruby Flynn, but I think anybody who likes a Liverpool family saga type book will absolutely love it.

The book starts in Liverpool in 1940 with Emily Haycock returning home to her sick mother, dreaming of one day becoming a St Angelus nurse.  As the air-raid sirens sound, Emily is near the docks with her heavily pregnant neighbour, Maisie Tanner.  As the bombs fall Emily worries about her family and as the sun rises on a new day, life will never be the same for Emily.

Twelve years later, Emily is Nursing Director at St Angelus Hospital and keen to keep her lowly origins hidden from the high and mighty consultants and snooty Matron.  When a new bunch of trainee nurses arrive at St Angelus, Emily keeps her eye on Pammy Tanner, the baby that Maisie was carrying on that fateful night in the air-raid shelter.  Pammy makes friends with Dana Brogan, a farm girl from Ireland, and Victoria Baker, a rich girl from an aristocratic family.  These unlikely friends form a strong alliance as they stick together to help each other pass their training and become Angels of Lovely Lane.

The NHS was formed in 1948 and it was really interesting to read about the resistance to this new regime, that I'm sure was very true to life.  As changes and improvements were made to medicine, the old consultants and matrons were left behind as junior doctors and trainee nurses embraced the new culture.  It's amazing how far we have come from these early days of the NHS; just think of how quickly women leave hospital after childbirth now, in the not so olden days they would have been confined to weeks of bed rest.

There are a lot of characters in this book and it sometimes got confusing.  I wasn't sure who the main character was supposed to be; Emily or Dana.  Although there is a lot going on, there are some interesting and tragic stories unfolding and I would be interested to read the next book to see how the characters have developed.

The Angels of Lovely Lane is a solid introduction to a new series of books by Nadine Dorries; although it felt a bit busy as we have been introduced to so many characters at once, I firmly believe that all will slot into place when it is read as part of a series.

I received this book from the publisher, Head of Zeus, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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