The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson - review by Wendy Moore

Wendy Moore

In Florence’s Footsteps

The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story


Chatto & Windus 324pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Doctors of almost every discipline have regaled us with their confessions in recent years and the late midwife Jennifer Worth’s memoirs entertain millions of television viewers weekly. Yet few nurses have so far committed first-hand accounts of their experiences to paper. Now former nurse Christie Watson has remedied this shortfall by adding her nurse’s tale to the chorus of medical voices. Her book makes harrowing, heart-rending reading.

Watson started her twenty-year career as a nervous newly qualified nurse and ended it as a confident nursing specialist. Her book takes us on a journey from seamy student accommodation through placements in the fields of mental health, midwifery and children’s nursing to postings as a highly skilled senior nurse in resuscitation and intensive care. We follow in her low-heeled and frequently weary footsteps as she opens the doors on gruelling scenes in the special care baby unit, races to crash calls in casualty and arrives breathless in a hospital car park as a baby is born in a taxi. Interspersed with palatable doses of medical history, science and nursing theory, and liberally sugared with humour to help the medicine go down, this book is nevertheless not for the faint-hearted.

Far from being fired with a vocation to nurse from youth, Watson seems entirely unsuited to the job at first. She leaves school at sixteen and drifts into nurse training – despite the fact that the sight of blood makes her faint. Eager to avoid blood as much

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