NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No Cure for the Dead by Chrstine Trent

This is the first in a series, ostensibly about Florence Nightingale.

It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London.

As soon as she is installed, Florence discovers a dead nurse hanging in the library. Instead of a novel focused on the real accomplishments of Florence Nightingale, the reader is relegated to a tale of how she solves the case. Her entire day consists mostly of trying to ferret out the killer rather than to discuss the many amazing accomplishments of this nurse. I found it mostly tedious to read about the daily occurences in the house and grew incredibly disdainful each time the word "miasma" was mentioned (so irritating that the author would focus on this completely INACCURATE THEORY OF Florence Nightingale so long disproven). In short, the book was not about anything really medical or nursing related, it was about FN becoming some sort of Nancy Drew and so thus, sold FN incredibly short. Florence Nightingale was an amazing woman for her time but the way she was portrayed in this novel totally sold her short. Whether or not she was romantically challenged (her relationship with Richard Monckton Miles) and her feelings about her family aside, I expected this to be more about how she changed the face of the art and practice of nursing -- not about how she was pretending to be some sort of sleuth.

I know this sounds harsh, but honestly -- I've been a nurse for over 40 years and Florence Nightingale's history and accomplishments are well known to me. Putting her in this scene and making her, quite frankly, a completly unlikeable character, were anathema. Sure there were a few paragraphs about changes she wanted to make with the nurses she was forced to train (a cut above prostitutes), and yes, historically her ideas did propel the profession forward -- it is just that this story does her character no justice. We don't see her caring much for patients, sure a rare turn, but yeah, she's an administrator LOL. Anyway, I am well familiar with the history of Florence Nightingale and her life. Turning her into a quasi detective took away from her modest life long work.

Some of this may be historically sound as far as research goes, but I felt throughout that the Florence portrayed here was nothing like the real woman I've reseearched myself. Making her focus on the murder and solving the crime as the main point of the novel took away from her stature -- not to mention dwelling on the "miasma" theory so much -- give it a rest, we know it's not true. Many of her studies, however, did advance and elevate the practice of nursing -- but nothing she ever did gives evidence that she'd spend so much time away from actual patients to work on solving a murder case. That's the problem with fiction based on real life characters.

Regardless, I did read this and I don't know if I would attempt a second in the series considering this is labeled as #1. I want to read historical fiction that uses real life people in their own element. Please let Florence Nightingale pursue MEDICAL or NURSING issues and not murder mystery. Thank you, however, to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

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