“Over time, I nursed victims of war, the posh, the poor, the famous and the infamous… Oh, the stories I can tell!”
To a young girl the life of a nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks on her training at London’s King’s College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with a demanding career. It’s sink or swim.
From the watchful gaze of stern sisters and the trials of nursing on a poor south-east London housing estate, to the explosive dramas of staff health checks at sophisticated Selfridges, Maggie shares warm and witty stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.
Played out against the march of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the iconic music and movies of almost half a century ago, Not Your Average Nurse is a delightful romp through time.
When I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for Maggie Groff’s Not Your Average Nurse, I was slightly hesitant. I don’t normally read memoirs, autobiographies, true stories, whatever they’re called. I tend to find them stuffy or some kind of promotional tool for those who think they’ve accomplished I-don’t-know-what when really, most of the time they are just lucky to have been born pretty.
However, in the spirit of this whole broadening my horizon journey I’ve embarked on, I quite happily agreed to read this true story of a student nurse in the 1970’s. And when the very first page already made me chuckle, I felt confident I had made the right decision.
Not Your Average Nurse is a realistic account of life in the 70’s. A time when a woman lost her job when she got married because having a husband and children was still supposed to be her only ambition in life. But Maggie wanted something else completely and set off to London to train to become a nurse. Of course things don’t always go exactly how she wants them to and it’s not all roses and sunshine. But her decision would take her to numerous places around the world and enable her to have a very fulfilling career.
This story has a little bit of everything. Great friendships, finding love and losing it, celebrity encounters, plenty of chuckles but it also highlights the plight of the poor, the elderly and even the Aboriginals. Maggie’s travels take her from England to Switzerland to Australia, constantly needing to adjust to new ways of doing things. Don’t be put off by the title if you’re of the squeamish sort, by the way. There’s really none of that here.
I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s recollections about her training days at King’s College Hospital and I found this true story to be a fascinating and entertaining read. Maggie is an excellent and witty storyteller and I would definitely recommend this book, if only to see how different things were back in the day, as a woman and a nurse.
Many thanks to Rosie Margesson and Transworld Books for inviting me on the tour and for my advanced copy!
Not Your Average Nurse will be published on May 18th.
Maggie Groff is a multi-award-winning novelist, columnist and non-fiction writer living and working in Australia. She is the author of two non-fiction books: the best-selling Mothers Behaving Badly (1999) which showcased her hilarious experiences as a mother, and Hoax Cuisine (2001) which garnered a loyal following and led to a regular column in Fairfax weekend newspapers.
Her first novel Mad Men, Bad Girls (originally titled Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute) was published in 2012 and received rave reviews. It was nominated for the Ned Kelly Award and went on to win both Australian Sisters in Crime 13th Davitt Awards for crime fiction – Best First Fiction and Best Adult Novel. Her second novel Good News, Bad News was also published to high acclaim and voted one of the top fifty books you can’t put down in the 2013 Australian Get Reading Campaign. Both novels have been published internationally.
Maggie’s latest book Not Your Average Nurse is a memoir of her richly-varied career working as a nurse at some of the world’s most iconic locations. Publication date is May 2017 in the UK and Australia.