Catherine Peters

The Nurse’s Nest

Nightingales: The Story of Florence Nightingale and Her Remarkable Family


Hodder & Stoughton 536pp £20 order from our bookshop

‘WE ARE DUCKS and have hatched a wild swan,’ Florence Nightingale’s sister Parthenope marvelled to Elizabeth Gaskell. Certainly the Nightingales were not a nest of singing birds. Gillian Gill tells a story of conflict, bitter resentments, ingratitude, misunderstandings; but also of mutual concern and admiration. Florence Nightingale was one of the most extraordinary women of her own – or any – century, and one of the most difficult and uncompromising:- it was no fun to be her parents, or her long-suffering sister. ‘Life is no holiday game’, Florence wrote presciently in her mid twenties, ‘nor is it a clever book, nor is it a school of instruction, nor a valley of tears – but it is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the Principle of Evil, hand to hand, foot to foot, & every inch of the way must be disputed.’

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