Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Lamp, by Susanne Dunlap

In case you didn't know, or don't remember, I love me some historical fiction. In the Shadow of the Lamp just hit all the right spots for me.

It's the 1850s and Molly gets fired from her job as a maid when she is accused of stealing. As she's dejectedly walking home, she hears a discussion about Florence Nightingale. The Crimean War is heating up, and Nightingale is looking for nurses to go to Turkey to help nurse the wounded.

Molly decides she will pose as a nurse, even though she can barely read. I won't tell you how she manages it, but she does end up in Turkey. She is helped by a good friend, Will, and there may be more than friendly feelings between these two. She's one of the youngest nurses and befriends the only other younger nurse, Emma.

We get a pretty good feel for the horrors of war without being too gross. Nightingale is depicted as a take-charge person, quickly organizing the hospital and even has the nurses make straw mattresses for the wounded because many of them are just laying on the floor. Nightingale is definitely depicted as a hero, and should be credited with saving many lives. The author has a good discussion of the actual historical accuracy at the end of In the Shadow of the Lamp.

Molly, it turns out, has a knack for nursing. She becomes attracted to one of the doctors. Emma falls in love with one of the patients and finds herself in quite a predicament. Nightingale strictly forbids any fraternizing with the opposite sex, so Molly and Emma are risking being sent home. Molly also finds out Will has joined the army and is in Turkey.

The romance blends well with the horrors of war. The girls end up on the front, they take a lot of risks, and the ending is exiting and not what I predicted. In the Shadow of the Lamp reads easily and quickly and would be appropriate for middle school as well as older teens.

Published by Bloomsbury, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
293  pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5

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  1. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy. I'll have to see if I can get it from the library. Thanks for the head's up!

  2. Never seen this before! I love historical fiction, and I know really little of this war so this sounds right up my ally! Thank you for sharing(:
    Esty @ Boarding with Books


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