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.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,