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In The Shadow of the Lamp

In The Shadow of the Lamp

4.3 10
by Susanne Dunlap

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It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding


It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Molly's exceptionally authentic and appealing character powers this well-crafted novel. An honorable homage and an absorbing read.” —Kirkus
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Sixteen year old Molly Fraser is in service in London. Although only an under parlor maid, she is supporting her mother and young siblings. So when she is unfairly accused of theft and dismissed, she finds herself at a complete loss. This is 1854 and the Crimean War is raging. Molly hears about a woman who is looking to take nurses into the war zone to tend to British soldiers in the field hospitals. That woman is really looking for older girls already trained as nurses, but Molly takes her chance and through some deception and luck, she finds an opportunity to use the untrained skills she already possesses. It is dirty, hard work, but the satisfaction of comforting the sick and dying is something she is made to handle. What she is unable to handle is the attention she is given from a young doctor and a former colleague from the Abington-Smythe household. She is impossibly torn between the two men until she makes a fateful decision to help her friend Emma. The novel is Molly's love story, set against the backdrop of the Crimean War and the strong, independent woman who later become known as the "lady with the lamp," Florence Nightingale. While the background details are founded in the reality of Nightengale's life, it is Molly's love story that will attract female readers interested in the genre of historical romance. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
VOYA - Helen Gorman
This historical romance is poignant and highly absorbing, but it is not particularly well written. The characters are generally brave and likeable, although there is a great deal of lying. Despite Molly's unexplained and unrealistic ability to read people's thoughts, girls will connect to her in her confusion about which man she loves, and the ending, if slightly predictable, is satisfying. Overall this is an exciting and worthwhile read. Reviewer: Helen Gorman, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Christina Miller
Dunlap again displays her penchant for historical novels set in Europe featuring female protagonists against backdrops of historical events (The Musician's Daughter [Bloomsbury, 2009/VOYA February 2009], Anastasia's Secret [Bloomsbury, 2010/VOYA June 2010]). Sixteen-year-old Molly Fraser's choices are limited after she is forced to leave her job as a parlor maid in London. She travels by coach to Folkestone on the English Channel, spends a night alone near the docks, sneaks aboard the Boulogne Star, and convinces Florence Nightingale to let her join a party of nurses heading to Scutari, Turkey, to care for sick and wounded English soldiers of the Crimean War (1854—1856). After a brief stop in Paris, the nurses endure a treacherous journey to Scutari to confront deplorable conditions, enormous casualties, and a filthy, vermin-infested, poorly supplied, and overcrowded hospital. The determined Miss Nightingale—the lady with the lamp—somehow gets the hospital cleaned up, brings in supplies, and sees to it that the patients are well fed. While Molly becomes a good nurse, makes a new friend, and finds romance, the harsh realities of war are ever present, and Molly makes difficult choices with which she must live. Dunlap's attention to detail and historical accuracy paint a vivid picture of the misery and suffering in the military hospitals in Crimea. Teens will relate to the dilemmas Molly has to face and admire her strength of character, courage, and optimism in very difficult circumstances. Reviewer: Christina Miller
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Dunlap masterfully employs the history of Florence Nightingale's courageous mission on the front lines during the Crimean War in 1854 as the setting for a compelling story. Unjustly dismissed as a maid in London, 16-year-old Molly Fraser jumps at the chance to become a nurse with Florence Nightingale. When rejected as unqualified for the position, she sneaks into the group of young women who have been chosen and makes the journey. Molly is a gritty, intelligent character whose inner strength enables her to stay focused on her goal. Dunlap's well-drawn characters and graphic prose hook readers from the outset. Vivid descriptions of the filthy conditions of the medical facilities, including incredible stench, rats, and lice, and the horror of ministering to severely wounded and maimed soldiers form the backdrop for this story of a teen trying to make her way in a world in which women are second-class citizens. The nurses must abide by a strict code of behavior, and any fraternization with the soldiers or male staff is forbidden. Nightingale's strictness, however, results in innovative and life-saving nursing practices. Though Molly is determined to succeed, she cannot stop herself from falling in love with a doctor and with Will, who helped her after she lost her job in London. This appealing selection is well-researched historical fiction, a keen look at the status of women at the time, and an enjoyable romance.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

Wrongfully dismissed from her job as a parlor maid, 17-year-old Molly Fraser desperately needs work to help support her impoverished family, but though she's intelligent and hard-working, an illiterate servant girl fired for stealing has little hope of finding respectable employment in 1854 London. Learning that Florence Nightingale is assembling experienced nurses to care for soldiers wounded fighting the Crimean War in Turkey, Molly relies on quick wits, true grit and funds borrowed from her admirer, Will, to join them. There, following Nightingale's impassioned, prickly but brilliant example, Molly discovers her own passion for nursing and acquires suitors: Will, now in the army, and a dedicated young doctor. Molly's exceptionally authentic and appealing character powers this well-crafted novel. While her lack of education is never minimized, her gifts—emotional intelligence, sense of justice and empathy—are both entirely plausible and essential to her task. Puzzlingly, several scenes proclaim that Molly also possesses a supernatural gift for healing; these undermine a story that is otherwise as deeply grounded in reality as the new profession it celebrates. Nightingale's vision of nursing care didn't turn on a supernatural knack for "healing" but on her determination to treat patients—the healing and dying alike—as human beings entitled to decent food, shelter and compassionate care on their difficult, frightening journey. Overall, an honorable homage and an absorbing read. (author's note)(Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music history from Yale University. She is the author of two historical novels for adults and two novels for teens: The Musician's Daughter and Anastasia's Secret. She divides her time between New York, and Massachusetts.


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In the Shadow of the Lamp 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
murphydoggie More than 1 year ago
Molly was a parlormaid who was unfairly fired. On her way home she haers about Miss Nightengale's nurses. Miss Nightengale is recuiting nurses to nurse the wounded men in Scutari. Molly may not be a trained nurse but she is determined to go with Miss Nightengale. Throughout the novel Molly makes friends as two men fight for her heart. Will it be the solider who reminds her of home or the doctor who makes her feel slightly dangerous. I really liked this book and loved the insight about the lady who modernized nursing. I have never read a book set in this time period, so it was new and different. I thought Susane Dunlap was a great author. Now I want to read her other two books the Musician's Daughter and Anastasia's Secret.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
The historical detail in this book is pretty well done. It’s on a historical subject (Crimean War) that is not really covered by a lot of YA out on shelves. So, to choose a subject like Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War,and nursing is an interesting one. So right then the plot was bound to be interesting for any historical YA reader out there. I myself was a little disappointed. Although I like the historical detail, the book is really just a love story. It did focus a lot on the romance elements and less on Molly and her nursing job which was unfortunate. I don’t have much knowledge about this particular aspect on history and a little more information would have been better than just reading the romance story, nevertheless the romance was all right and readable, but to some historical fiction fanatics this might not be something they want to delve into. I for one, could not really sympathize with Emma, and I actually figured out just by being introduced to her character what was going to happen to her. It just seems to be common that there’s going to be that one stupid character to cause a great upheaval (whether good or bad) in the main character’s storyline. Argh. Someone surprise me with a scenario where the main character slaps the stupid one upside the head and leaves her to her own fate. I’d love to read something like that. What’s even more aggravating? Will just happened to be a character to be conveniently there. Oh goodness. Can I roll my eyes now? This wasn’t really what I was looking for. I was hoping more historical fiction. Less romance. Not really recommended unless romance is more your style.
tudorgeek6 More than 1 year ago
It was really good! I'm a historical fiction lover, and this book certainly did the job i asked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book. I have read her other books also. This one was one of my favorites. Suzanne Dunlap is now one of my favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks great
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Gold Star Award Winner! Molly's been unfairly dismissed from her maid's position. She has nowhere to go, until she hears about a nursing opportunity. She doesn't have much experience, though, and thus she's rejected from the girls and women picked for Miss Nightingale's staff. But Molly's determined to make it and sneaks onto the ship with the rest of the group. Most of the women aboard become sea sick due to the rough waters. Molly and another girl help any way they can and attempt to clean up the messes. Due to this, upon arrival, Molly's allowed to join the nursing staff. She soon learns that Miss Nightingale keeps strict rules. Anyone caught breaking those rules will be sent home. Molly tends to the soldiers as best she can - helping to wrap bandages, assisting the doctors, wiping the brows of the injured, and talking to them in an attempt to keep them calm. Although the work is tough and the conditions even harder, she knows that she's making a difference. However, Molly doesn't always follow the rules. Lately, it's getting harder and harder to remain angelic. Will her actions cost her this amazing position? I found the politics of the hospital and the battle for improving the conditions of the wounded fascinating. I loved the in-depth look at both nursing and Miss Nightingale's character. This subject is not found often in YA literature, and it is a great tool for learning more about the time period. IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAMP is a wonderful look at the Crimean War - filled with the horrors of fighting, friendships among the nurses, and even the possibility of romance.
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