Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle


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Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod (known to all as Julia) 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 first enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.

Gaelic fortitude meets a nurse’s compassion in these wonderful true stories from rural Scotland. The remarkable debut of an author now in her eighties, Call the Nurse is a treasure of sweet nostalgia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628725124
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 88,350
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mary J. MacLeod qualified as a nurse in England and has lived in Aden (now Yemen), the United States, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia as well as her husband George’s native Scotland. She is now the author of three books and lives in Ascot in Berkshire, England.

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Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Reviewingismyforte More than 1 year ago
The Hebrides, which are two groups of islands lying just off the west coast of mainland Scotland, provide the setting for this charming collection of anecdotal experiences of a country nurse during the 1970s. Throughout the book, MacLeod is so intent on preserving the privacy of the islanders that she refers to the “wild, exposed” island which she and her family made their home by the name “Papavray,” so don’t try looking it up on any map—you definitely won’t find it. Despite her use of such a pseudonym, however, her experiences are made not one whit less real to us, her readers, who readily come to feel part of her innermost circle of friends, so welcome and beguiling is her approach. The delicacy and vibrancy of MacLeod’s text resonates with the warmth and passion of the Hebridean islanders among whom she worked. Anyone who has ever lived close to the sea, and who has savored its salt tang on their lips, cannot help but become enthralled by the sensuous wonders of the landscape that she describes in such vivid and glowing terms. Almost at once, one feels close to her, and becomes intimately concerned with her own concerns, as she cycles her way around the island from one patient to another. Her description of the surrounding environs is close to mythical in the poetic cadence of her speech, fringing in its mysteriousness on much loved passages of Daphne du Maurier: “The sky had cleared and the winding road was bright in the moonlight, while the dark waters of small lochs sparkled among the reeds.”  The appeal of the islands and island life permeates the text, from where MacLeod explains how she, her husband and sundry children decided to abandon the hectic pace in the south of England, together with all its stresses and daily pressures, to become “middle-aged dropouts,” living on Papavray, to where they become so enmeshed with island life that they themselves start to seem an integral part of the rural landscape.  Despite having to, at first, conduct negotiations for land ”through a fog of half-understood cultural differences,” they soon warm to the generous hospitality of the island folk, with the latter finding  MacLeod’s husband’s electrical skills and her own nursing ones ever more indispensable. Somewhat akin to James Herriot’s experiences in the Yorkshire Dales, the author recounts her experiences with the locals in tones of mixed a/bemusement and respect for their endurance and adaptability to the relatively harsh environment in which they live. The series of adventures upon which the MacLeod family embarks are recounted lovingly and with consummate ease, much of it being in direct speech, so that one feels as though one were there, experiencing the scenes unfolding before one. The pace of Call the Nurse flows smoothly and eloquently through the pages, with the reader becoming ever more engrossed with the ebb and flow of island life. No matter how jaundiced a view of people you might usually, you will not fail to be drawn into admiring the close-knit functioning of human interrelationships in the relative backwater of Papavray and to come to view others around you in a kinder light, aware, but at least a smidgeon more tolerant, of their foibles and failings—such a humanizing effect does this book have on one. Thoroughly recommended for both old and young, next time you have a break and wish to escape the rat race for just a short while, do try reading Call the Nurse—you won’t be disappointed.             
Anonymous 12 months ago
Excellent read. I am not one for narrative stories but this is an exception to my norm . Very refreshing and believable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful read. If you enjoy reading Herriot stories you will like this. Her descriptions of people and landscape transported me to this island that I would love to visit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting, colourful snapshot of lifestyle and people in 70's rural Scotland .
love2readallday More than 1 year ago
I thought it started slow but really enjoyed it after I got into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having family in the Hebrides and visiting them every decade since 1970s, Ms. MacLeod certainly brought back memories. How true about the lovely caring people on those islands.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book speaks of a time and a culture mostly gone but still alive in the hearts of the Scots. Truly enjoyable, warm, funny in places, sad in other and altogether heartwarming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written perfect read to curl up with on a long afternoon or winter night and enjoy. Lose yourself in a place and live that perhaps hasnt changed even now.
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Anonymous 9 months ago
The stories of her experiences in a island in Ireland. Written very well and very descriptive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and entertaining
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What amazing people
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busy-country-nurse More than 1 year ago
Great reading. Can relate to the stories well. Been a nurse for over 39 years and have had some of the same situations happen to me. Want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a nurse with the experience of Public Health Nursing in this timeframe (1970’s), but in Queens, New York, I found this to be a heartwarming story of courage and generosity that rang true. Although Mary J’s challenges in an extreme rural setting were different from mine in an urban environment, the experience of dealing with unplanned emergencies was familiar.
193481RA More than 1 year ago
Call the Nurse was a delightful book to read. It was sad in some spots but very whimsical in others. The neighbors in the cottages will win your heart as they did mine. Such a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just couldn't finish it - a snooze fest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story could have been more interesting, but it was very choppy and disjointed.
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