A few months ago, I was sent a proof copy of this book, which came in at just under 550 words. The published hardback version also includes illustrations, and is a massive 672 pages!
In his introduction, Mark Bostridge explains how he has been aided by the gradual appearance of many of Florence Nightingale’s selected writings, as well as his research in the unpublished archive of Nightingale family papers. It’s obvious just how much work has gone into his book, and it is both detailed and informative.
It is a long, detailed book, and yet it is incredibly readable. It covers everything you can imagine, from Florence Nightingale’s family, her time in the Crimean War, her reforms to nursing, and finishes by exploring her role as an icon.
Although this is such a big book, it has been divided into sections, and it is possible to read them separately. Although reading about her family background, and her life growing up will give you that wider understanding of her character as a whole, the sections based around the Crimean War, and those about her health reforms could be read independently.
Being a nurse myself, and having worked at St Thomas’s, the nursing section was the most interesting to me. Florence was never interested in nurses carrying out any medical duties, but her passion was on cleanliness – oh how things have changed! It’s also interesting to see how early a paid register was in place for nurses.
This is a detailed work, which is highly readable, and offers content suitable for many people – it would be a great buy for anyone with an interest in any aspect of Florence Nightingale’s life, and for nurses today, who wish to learn a little more about the background of their profession.