Review of Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

reef_florence nightingaleFlorence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse
by Catherine Reef
Middle School, High School    Clarion    182 pp.
11/16    978-0-544-53580-0    $18.99    g

Reef brings her keen eye for character to the “Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale. Nightingale’s service during the Crimean War, where she emphasized the importance of good sanitation and a calm demeanor among hospital workers, bringing hope to the injured and dying, made her a worldwide celebrity. At a time when a woman was expected to “[obey] her husband if she was married or her father if she remained single,” Nightingale acquiesced to no one, finding meaning in the work of saving lives and advancing the nursing profession like few before or since. Making fine use of primary sources, Reef paints a complete picture of the complex woman (her management style was “curt”; when advised to be more encouraging to nurses in training, “Nightingale replied that she had no time for such trifles”). All of that character development is sometimes detrimental to the pacing; the book’s first quarter moves rather slowly. But those readers who stick with the book will come away with a true appreciation for a crucial historical figure. Source notes and a selected bibliography are included; index unseen.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a programming librarian at the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Public Library in northern Kentucky.

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