Band of Angels, by Julia Gregson.
This was a disappointing book. The premise sounded interesting: A young Welsh girl from the upper class grows up friends with a young Welsh boy from the lower class. Both leave the strictures of the Welsh countryside to make a way for themselves. Both ultimately end up in the Crimea, she as a nurse, he as a cavalry officer. Can they ever meet up and act on the feelings they have for one another, but which were barred by their class differences in Wales?
I generally love nursing stories, and stories of women pushing the boundaries of society and striving to achieve things that they were thought because of their gender to be incapable of, so I expected to be enthralled with this book. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
The writing is smooth enough and descriptive enough, but right from the beginning there is a sense of laboriousness and heaviness to the writing that the story never manages to escape. It was as if there was a dark cloud over this story from beginning to end, and there was never anything to lighten the darkness, no humor, no joy, no love. Even at the end, when boy again meets girl, the feeling is more one of relief and closure, not of happiness.
Adding to the darkness of this novel is the negative portrayal of virtually all of the characters other than the main female protagonist. Even Florence Nightingale, that beloved and revered woman I learned of in my childhood, is tarred with the same dirty brush.
Finally, the pace of this story is agonizingly slow. It took forever for anything to happen, and even when you knew when it was supposed to happen, the author seemed to squeeze more days worth of tedium into the period than was allotted. If it were not for the fact that I was reading this book for the Ukraine portion of the European Reading Challenge, I truly think I would have chucked this book long before finishing it. As it was, I did finish it, but was left very dissatisfied.
Unfortunately I would not recommend this book to others. I give it a 2 out of 5.