Fetch Nurse Connie by Jean Fullerton

In brief: The story of Nurse Connie (best friend of Nurse Millie) in post war London.

The good: Lovely to revisit Millie and Connie’s world from a different perspective.

The not-so-good: Charlie was perfectly awful!

Why I chose it: Loved the Nurse Millie books, so I bought this as soon as it was released.

Year: 2015

Pages: 376

Publisher: Orion Books

Setting: London’s East End

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

I do love a good historical fiction story about nurses and Jean Fullerton’s books are just the ticket when I need a comforting read. Reading about the highs and lows of the nurses of Munroe House is all-absorbing and Jean Fullerton’s detail is second to none.

For those of you who have read the Nurse Millie books (Call Nurse Millie and All Change for Nurse Millie), you will be familiar with Connie. She’s Millie’s best friend and a fellow nurse and midwife. This book is written parallel to the events in Call Nurse Millie, but from Connie’s perspective. You may think that this means that there are no surprises, but take my word that there are many! As Connie works a different part of the district to Millie, there are plenty of new patients with their joys and sorrows to meet. We also find out that Connie was hiding a few things when it came to ex-fiancé Charlie. His story is also told in this book and he’s not quite the former knight in shining armour that Connie led us to believe…

One of the highlights of Fetch Nurse Connie is the attention to detail. Settings, nursing procedures and period details all come to life through Jean Fullerton’s pen. There has obviously been a lot of research done into the streets of London’s East End and nursing procedures of the time. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed, from treatment of whooping cough to managing very premature babies. The balance is just right between hope, happiness and facing what life has to throw at you. I loved the characters of the East End as they all had their quirks. For instance, Connie’s mum Maud is determined to get her own back on Charlie’s mum as he jilted her. She has quite a few colourful turns of phrase! Charlie’s new wife Rosa is also bold and ready to defend her husband even if it means causing a scene. Connie is also no stranger to controversy, writing a letter to the governing body of the Queen’s Nurses, demanding a repeat assessment for one of her nurses behind her superintendent’s back. All of these women are strong in their own right, ready to take on what life throws at them.

Connie wasn’t a perfect angel herself, which I think made her more likeable. She defies her superiors to help an expectant mother (and also rallies other nurses to be the same) – it’s clinically appropriate to do so, but not financially viable. She’s also unable to sever ties with Charlie, which has her skating on thin ice many a time. It will be interesting to see if she’s finally cured her Charlie-itis in the sequel, Wedding Bells for Nurse Connie. I haven’t yet snuck a look to see who the lucky groom is, but it better not be Charlie! (Likewise if it’s Malcolm, son of a fussy patient, Connie has interesting times ahead!)

Fetch Nurse Connie is a lovely story, sure to treat Call the Midwife withdrawal and transport the reader back to the past.

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