Book Review: A Nightingale Christmas Wish by Donna Douglas

by - November 05, 2014

Published as an Arrow Paperback Original
6th November 2014


As Christmas 1938 approaches, the staff at the Nightingale Hospital have their own wishes for the festive season.

Ward sister Frannie Wallace is hoping she won't have to live through another war like the one that claimed her beloved fiance. But with bomb defences going up all around London, it seems as if her hopes are in vain.

Staff Nurse Helen Dawson wants to find happiness again after the death of her husband Charlie. A handsome stranger seems to offer the chance she wants. But is she looking for love in the wrong place?

Matron Kathleen Fox struggles to keep up morale amongst her nurses as the hospital faces the threat of evacuation. But while everyone else worries about the future of the Nightingale, it's for her own future that Kathleen truly fears.

As the country prepares itself for war, one thing is for sure - by the time next Christmas comes, nothing at the Nightingale Hospital will be the same again.


I love a good period drama series and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters at the Nightingale Hospital in the first books of the series. I was really looking forward to reading about some familiar faces again and following more of their stories.

As the run up to Christmas has fast approached this year, I was quite excited about reading this novel as it would've been my first Christmas read of 2014. The novel did touch the Christmas period, though I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't as engulfed in the Christmas world as I would have hoped. But nonetheless I still really enjoyed the story.

In the fifth novel of the series we follow 4 main characters on their journeys through a time where war is looming and tension is at an all time high. Donna Douglas explores some really intense feelings and relationships in the story, as we see how Helen Dawson battles with the death of her husband and struggles to come to terms with his loss, and probationary nurse Effie O'Hara finds herself developing a crush on one of the patients at the hospital. There are also a lot of past secrets revealed as we learn about the past of Sister Fannie Blake and a big secret being hidden by Matron Kathleen Fox is revealed to the reader.

Donna Douglas does an amazing job writing these characters into a very believable and realistic setting - everything in the novel screams 1930's (from what I know of) and comes across very honest and authentic. Douglas' characters are really well developed which makes it so easy to follow them throughout the series. Not only that but they are all loveable in their own ways which keeps you wanting to read more about their lives. We also see a few other familiar faces in the story, though the book does not focus on them. It is really great to see the different characters battling through life together in a time that is rife with tragedy, fear and love.

If you enjoy a period drama I would definitely recommend Donna Douglas' Nightingale series. Although this is book 5 it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel so definitely don't shy away!!

Indulge in the 1930's with the Nightingale girls and their love, loss and secrets!

Donna Douglas:

Donna Douglas has always loved stories. As a child, she looked forward to her weekly fix of the Bunty comic, with its dramatic tales of girls achieving their dreams against the odds. Donna wanted to be a writer, but like her favourite fictional heroines, her dream seemed to be out of reach. Girls from the back streets of south London didn’t do that kind of thing.

But like those Bunty girls before her, Donna was determined. When she was 19, she landed her dream job, writing photo love stories for a teenage magazine. She went on to train as a ‘proper’ journalist, and worked on several women’s magazines. But the longing to tell stories never left her, and when she was 40 years old she published her first novel, Waiting in the Wings, which won the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award.

Her first novel in the Nightingales series, The Nightingale Girls, was published in 2012. Since then there have been two more, The Nightingale Sisters and The Nightingale Nurses. The next novel in the series, Nightingales On Call, is published in April 2014. Set in a 1930s East End hospital, The Nightingale novels are heartwarming, emotional stories of girls battling against the odds – just like those Bunty heroines of old.

Donna now lives in York with her husband. They have a grown up daughter. When she isn’t writing, she likes walking, reading and watching Pointless on TV.

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