In 1970, Nurse Mary-J and her husband George decided to give up the hectic pace of life in the south of England, and try a simpler, sturdier sort of existence on a windy island in the Hebrides. Although George had been born in Glasgow and had ancestral ties to the islands, he had never even visited there, and neither of them "had the Gaelic", which so many islanders still spoke, some exclusively. Mary-J took the job as district nurse among the crofters and villagers in what even a rural girl like myself would surely see as a god-forsaken countryside. Long winters; brief summers; rugged but often eccentric crofters and their families living in far-flung cottages accessible by roads barely recognizable as such; a cottage hospital equipped to handle only the mildest of complaints; a culture strongly bound to tradition; and all supplies that could not be grown, raised or manufactured on the land available only through a long and often dangerous water crossing to the mainland. Yet MacLeod loved her years on the island she called Papavray (a fictive name), and as she wrote this memoir much later, in her '80's, she longed to return one more time to the land of peat bogs and rocky shores. This is reminiscent of James Herriot's Yorkshire adventures, but MacLeod spares us the goriest of details, never pokes even the slightest bit of fun at her patients, and leaves the reader with a healthy respect for the hardy souls who lived this sort of life well into the second half of the 20th century. I was also struck by the total absence of the concept of "women's work" in this society, where self-reliance and practicality demanded that anyone be prepared to take on anything that needed doing.
Call the Nurse : True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle (The Country Nurse Series, Book One)
Arrives by Sat, Oct 24
About This Item
“Julia MacLeod shares unique and enchanting experiences as a nurse in rural Scotland. Her stories will ring true with every nurse—or anyone—who has ever cared for a family or a community, whether in Scotland or America. Call the Nurse is a delightful read.” —LeAnn Thieman, author Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul
Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod (known to all as Julia) and her husband encountered their dream while vacationing on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Enthralled by its windswept beauty, they soon were the proud owners of a near-derelict croft house—a farmer’s stone cottage—on “a small acre” of land.
Mary assumed duties as the island’s district nurse. Call the Nurse is her account of the first enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.
Call the Nurse is a treasure of sweet nostalgia.
The Country Nurse
|Number of Pages|
Mary J. MacLeod
Call the Nurse
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
8.25 x 5.50 x 1.40 Inches
Customer reviews & ratings
In 1970, Nurse Mary-J ...
Mary MacLeod worked as...
Mary MacLeod worked as a district nurse on a Hebridean island after she and her husband decided to escape their frenetic lifestyle in the south of England in the 1970s. There are forty-two short chapters in which she tells of the exploits of the local people, most of whom had ancestors on the island in generations past. Some of the anecdotes are funny and some sad but all of them are interesting and give us a clear understanding of the harsh life and the strong character of the inhabitants. Well worth my time and greatly enjoyed.
Call the Nurse: True S...
Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod; R/L bookclub; (3*) While reading this it came to me that there is no right nor wrong way to write a memoir. Some writers of memoirs tell their story in picturesque ways. Some tell theirs very matter of fact. We see their life in the prose they use, in the detail of their writing, in their descriptions of the people, the homes, their work, the history surrounding their story and in the manner they describe the locale or locales. In this non-sentimental memoir the author tells of a time in the 1970s when she, her husband, and their two youngest children (the older two being off at University) came to live on an island in Scotland's Hebrides Isles. They wanted to get away from the busy, busy lives of living in London and had holidayed here and wanted to live a slower life albeit a more difficult one. The day they arrived they found a croft (farm) with a house, though dilapidated, that was approved for them to buy. They decided to take a chance and made the purchase. They lived in a 'caravan' or camp trailer until the renovations were complete and then moved into their croft house. MacLeod, who is a nurse, took a job assisting the island doctor as a traveling nurse. Her husband did odd jobs both on and off the Island. The format of her memoir is similar to that of a chapter book in that the author writes a few pages about working with a particular patient and the next bit is about a different patient. But she doesn't just write about the patients. She writes of the countryside, how they came to be there, her family and their life whilst there......... I found it very interesting. It is not literature by any means but it definitely held my interest while reading it and it is a quick read. I found all of the characters realistic and believable and as I love all books about Scotland and the Scots, I found this one also quite to my taste.
This is an interesting...
This is an interesting book about the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. The examples of self-reliant living and customs that date back to feudal times are fascinating. MacLeod also paints the scenery and weather of the islands beautifully. However, the way that McLeod delves into the darker and more sordid stories of the island comes off as gossipy. She changes the names of the people and the islands, but it still feels like a breach of confidentiality. Of course, without these stories, it wouldn't be nearly so interesting a read. The narrator's wispy, ethereal voice seems a contrast to McLeod's practical demeanor, though (to an untrained outside) it seems she gets the cadence of the islands accents well.
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