Through the facts [Nightingale] always saw lives, writes Gill, author of books on Agatha Christie and Mary Baker Eddy. Such is also true of Gill, who abandons historical speculation in favor of fastidious reliance on diaries and letters from Nightingales family, friends, and colleagues. Although one of many existing biographies, Nightingales
is one of the first to thoroughly examine the relationship between her public and private life. Besides vividly evoking Austenesque mores, Gill creates full-blooded characters, from a sickly sister to a dilettante father. Critics disagree about Gills tone; while novelistic, the constant use of I distracted some and edified others. Similarly, the myriad details both add and subtract from the narrative. Yet, on each page, Nightingales
offers a unique perspective on the Birds fascinating life.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
*Starred Review* What Florence Nightingale--the legendary Lady with the Lamp--did for the wounded and suffering British soldiers in Crimea has long secured her place in the history books. But what she did within the circle of her own family has remained largely hidden from view. Until now. Informing careful scholarship with imaginative insight, a distinguished biographer brings to life the entire gifted but perplexing Nightingale family. Unlike biographers deafened by the acclaim for Florence's courageous medical crusade in the military hospitals of Scutari, Gill can still hear the quiet but vexed voice of a father who instilled iconoclastic bravery in his daughter only to recoil in dismay when that bravery steeled her against a favorable marriage so that she could pursue her luminous ambitions. Similarly, while other biographers focus on how Florence advanced unprecedented reforms in military sanitation and medical care by deftly orchestrating two royal commissions, Gill probes the ways that Florence's descent into invalidism during the commission years strained her already difficult relations with her sister and mother. To be sure, readers will learn much from Gill about how Florence pursued her epoch-making objectives on the broad Victorian stage--waging fierce bureaucratic warfare against obstructionists in the War Office, drafting key parliamentary speeches for sympathetic cabinet ministers. But because they can turn elsewhere for analyses of her public life, readers will appreciate this book most for its novel perspective on Florence's alternately tender and irksome dealings with her own kin. Bryce ChristensenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved