Review: Call the Nurse by Mary J. MacLeod

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆


What It’s About:

Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod and her husband encountered their dream while vacationing on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Enthralled by its windswept

beauty, they soon were the proud owners of a near-derelict croft house–a farmer’s stone cottage–on “a small acre” of land. Mary assumed duties as the island’s district nurse. Call the Nurse is her account of the enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.

In anecdotes that are by turns funny, sad, moving, and tragic, she recalls them all, the crofters and their laird, the boatmen and tradesmen, young lovers and forbidding churchmen. Against the old-fashioned island culture and the grandeur of mountain and sea unfold indelible stories: a young woman carried through snow for airlift to the hospital; a rescue by boat; the marriage of a gentle giant and the island beauty; a ghostly encounter; the shocking discovery of a woman in chains; the flames of a heather fire at night; an unexploded bomb from World War II; and the joyful, tipsy celebration of a ceilidh. Gaelic fortitude meets a nurse’s compassion in these wonderful true stories from rural Scotland.

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My Thoughts:

Call The Nurse is the memoir of Mary MacLeod’s life on Papavray, a remote Outer Hebrides island off the coast of Northwest Scotland. Whether you’ve visited Scotland or not, you’re sure to be charmed by the quaint locals and to be amazed at the struggles of daily life on a tiny island.

The memoir is told in a sequential timeline of Ms. MacLeod’s time on the island. She is the nurse mentioned in the title, and her time on the island seems to have been very eventful. The chapters are relatively short essays describing a memorable event and the author’s involvement as the island’s only district nurse. The essays are more substantial than a diary style memoir, so readers get a clear idea of daily life on Papavray (or any tiny Hedbrides island. I appreciated the author’s descriptions of the island and its inhabitants. I could picture the small crofter cottages and practically smell the harvested peat!

Call the Nurse is a charming book about daily life in a very rural setting. I loved both my visits to Scotland, and Call the Nurse has me longing to go back to explore some more of the country. In fact, Ms. MacLeod’s book has me thinking about how I could work and live there for a year.


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