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Not your average nurse, a memoir

BEFORE you read this book it's probably important to first understand what inspired Maggie Groff to write the memoir.

According to the author, the book was originally written for her daughter, Hannah, so she could have some knowledge of her mum's nursing career, as she grew up only knowing her as a struggling writer.

I only discovered this fact after I had read the book. Had I known this beforehand I think I would have read it through different eyes.

The reason is this. There were a few times while reading where I found it strange that some incidents were not elaborated on, and others where you wondered why they were mentioned at all.

I have a feeling that because Groff was writing with her daughter in mind she imposed some sort of self-censorship. Perhaps I am wrong.

The book is made up of three basic parts.

Firstly, the author's experience of becoming a nurse and working in England in the 1970s.

Then there is the bit in the middle where she does lots of exciting things, such as working as an in-house nurse at glamorous Selfridges and taking up a position at a hospital in Switzerland.

In the third part, she fulfils a lifelong dream and heads off to work in Australia, where she remains to the present day.

I found the first part of the book the most fascinating. It covers the period where the author embarks on her training at London's King's College Hospital and the following years as she works in various London hospitals.

It was certainly an eye-opener. Groff describes the struggle of young trainee nurses, often treated as nothing more than glorified cleaners, and of their fight for their rights and for better pay.

All this is played out against the backdrop of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the music and movies of those years.

The story takes us from 1970s London to the Australian outback and everywhere in between - this woman certainly has had a fascinating career. It's hard to keep up.

With her many interesting and often witty anecdotes, she reminded me a bit of James Herriot - except with human patients not animal.

Overall, a fascinating jaunt through time through the eyes of a young nurse.

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff, RRP $34.99, is out now through Penguin.

Topics:  book review memoir nursing



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