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The anecdotes in Call the Nurse range from tragedy to humor but are always handled with the love MacLeod clearly feels toward the island's residents, their foibles, old-fashioned way of life, and the mythically beautiful landscape that left her enchanted.
Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod and her husband, George, encountered their dream while vacationing on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Enthralled by its windswept beauty, they soon were the proud and startled owners of a near-derelict croft house - a farmer’s stone cottage - on “a small acre” of land. Mary assumed duties as the island’s district nurse. Call the Nurse is her account of the enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.
In anecdotes that are by turns funny, sad, moving, and tragic, she recalls them all, the crofters and their laird, the boatmen and tradesmen, young lovers and forbidding churchmen. Against the old-fashioned island culture and the grandeur of mountain and sea unfold indelible stories: a young woman carried through snow for airlift to the hospital; a rescue by boat; the marriage of a gentle giant and the island beauty; a ghostly encounter; the shocking discovery of a woman in chains; the flames of a heather fire at night; an unexploded bomb from World War II; and the joyful, tipsy celebration of a ceilidh. Gaelic fortitude meets a nurse’s compassion in these wonderful true stories from rural Scotland.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 09-10-14
A 1970's Visiting Nurse on Rural Scottish Island
This is a fun, engaging, and often poignant story of a family that moves to a remote Scottish island, renovates a croft and sets out to live a much simpler life. The stories center on quirky island folk and old traditions. This hardy nurse sees it all. Rising to every occasion with tremendous aplomb.
However, the narration was an issue for me. The accents were off and varied with a great deal of inconsistency. What was worse was the slow speaking mode the narrator used. I remedied the problem by, for the first time ever, increasing my play back speed. I found that 1.25 speed was perfect and made the reader sound almost normal. I did not want to give up on the story-- so this was a quick fix that made the book tolerable.
Narration aside it was a good story and worth the effort. If you enjoyed Call the Midwife, the Irish country Doctor series or even the James Herriot books you might enjoy this visit to the Outer Hebrides.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful
By Susan on 04-07-15
Superb Writing and a Great Memoir
If you could sum up Call the Nurse in three words, what would they be?
Sorry it ended!
What other book might you compare Call the Nurse to and why?
Dr. Mutter's Marvels and other stories like Working Stiff that actually take you to the workplace.
Which scene was your favorite?
The description of finding Bitty,although very grim, reminds me of what is still happening today. People get lost by the world although they are still very much alive. Sometimes there is no call for help before a chainsaw or ax or knife or gun or bomb takes lives.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, I had to digest some parts of it and go back to it to listen again. This book could use a sequel since I am sure the stories could go on and on!!
Any additional comments?
One of the very best books ever!! It actually describes a community which is remote enough to be dependent on the others in the community. We would be fortunate to find such a community today in a time where our remoteness may be technological.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful