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The Grace of a Nightingale: A Memoir of Vulnerability, Hope and Love

The Grace of a Nightingale: A Memoir of Vulnerability, Hope and Love

by Mary Anne Willow, Helen Fazal (Editor)
The Grace of a Nightingale: A Memoir of Vulnerability, Hope and Love

The Grace of a Nightingale: A Memoir of Vulnerability, Hope and Love

by Mary Anne Willow, Helen Fazal (Editor)

Hardcover(Hardback ed.)

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Mary Anne’s story is both ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary because she was searching for the same things many of us search for: love, understanding and purpose; and extraordinary because she had to go through hell to find them.

Her life was turbulent. Born in a decaying northern town to a dysfunctional family in the 1960s, Mary Anne had to endure mental, physical, and sexual abuse and cope with the devastating effects of parental alcoholism and suicide. She had her self-esteem and confidence crushed by two disastrous marriages, and she lives with the emotional and physical scars caused by a surgical procedure which has become the medical scandal of our age: mesh implants. But, despite everything, she always remained determined to endure and to find something better.

The Grace of a Nightingale is a brilliantly heartfelt odyssey of survival. Even in her darkest moments, Mary Anne’s courage and faith, combined with her passionate appreciation of beauty in nature, books and music, bring glimpses of light and hope. On her journey through life, Mary Anne's mat carriers, both friends and strangers, supported her to triumph over adversity. And, like all the best stories, there is a happy ending.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781913142001
Publisher: Arrow Gate Publishing Ltd
Publication date: 04/18/2019
Edition description: Hardback ed.
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Mary Anne Willow was born in Yorkshire in 1962. As a child of three, she witnessed her father violently beating my mother 'like a deranged baboon' as she clung to her baby brother believing they would die.

At 7, Mary Anne's family moved back to her parents' hometown in north-west England. Over the next ten years, she would face domestic and sexual abuse, maternal alcoholism, the agonising death of her beloved grandmother from breast cancer and the sadism and indifference of her school teachers.

Growing up in a misogynistic working-class culture, surrounded by irrational hatred and lack of female power, Mary Anne escaped to Wales to work in a seaside hotel where she became enlightened by the beauty of the coastal scenery while discovering the joy of serving others. Empowered by the respite from domestic violence during she Welsh working holiday, she returned home to train as a nurse.

In the years that followed, Mary Anne worked and studied in some of the most prestigious hospitals across England. She always strived to reach her full nursing and academic potential achieving a distinction in a master of arts degree in Leadership and Management.

Despite the flawless career success, pain and suffering were constantly revisiting Mary Anne's life. Following a brief, disastrous marriage she felt empty and lost. Haunted by the legacy of self-contempt, guilt and shame from her childhood abuse, she searched for a deeper meaning to life.

After an unplanned journey to see her brother, who was suffering from PTSD following his experiences as a naval seaman during the Falklands and Gulf wars, Mary Anne's life changed forever. One brief, desperate phone call to the naval chaplain, Paddy the Padre, was the beginning of a journey of healing, hope and lifelong transformation.

The book describes her journey of self-discovery, as she fell in love with nature, animals, beauty and God.

Table of Contents


Preface xi

The Unmothered Child 1

The Vulnerable Child 8

Cigarettes, Whisky and Firearms 18

Wild, Wayward and Wandering 31

Welsh Seagulls 47

Longing and Belonging 56

An Irreversible Ending 64

The Call of the Nightingale 75

Carpe Diem 86

Pride and Prestige 96

The Prelude to Illumination 105

Priests, Ships and Hounds 115

Paradox and Paranoia 125

Forgiving Dreams 133

Tormented to Death 143

Bare Dreams 156

The Prophecy is Realised 166

A Secret Lie 172

The Widowed Spinster 179

Sophia 188

An Invisible Loss 197

Herons and Horses 204

A Sanctimonious Halo 212

Surviving the Stitch-up and Smiling Through Pain 222

The Song of the Nightingale

After winter must come spring 238

The Nightingale 249

Bibliography 251


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