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Reviews of Flight of the Wild Swan by Melissa Pritchard

Flight of the Wild Swan

by Melissa Pritchard

Flight of the Wild Swan by Melissa Pritchard X
Flight of the Wild Swan by Melissa Pritchard
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Mar 2024, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

A majestic novel of Florence Nightingale, whose courage, self-confidence, and resilience transformed nursing and the role of women in medicine

Sweeping yet intimate, Flight of the Wild Swan tells the story of Florence Nightingale, a brilliant, trailblazing woman whose humanity has been obscured beneath the iconic weight of legend.

From adolescence, Nightingale was determined to fulfill her life's calling to serve the sick and suffering. Overcoming Victorian hierarchies, familial expectations, patriarchal resistance, and her own illness, she used her hard-won acclaim as a battlefield nurse to bring the profession out of its shadowy, disreputable status and elevate nursing to a skilled practice and compassionate art.

In lush, lyrical detail, Melissa Pritchard reveals Nightingale as a rebel who wouldn't relent—one whose extraordinary life offers a grand lesson in inspired will.

Delirium

35 South Street
Mayfair
London 1877

She wakes in stale darkness, sweat-soaked, freezing. The same nightmare, always. A common grave, hundreds of the dead, their arms tightening around her, pulling her down. An indistinct murmur of voices. Some still in uniform, most writhing, naked. She cannot save them. Cannot save herself.

This time the waking is different. This time she is dying. She is sure of it. The nurse, Anna, will find her in the morning.

Then what?

Vultures descending. Family first. Spying. Searching through her things. Then the press. Speculating. Digging. She hasn't much. Papers. Paperwork, journals, letters. As she likes to say, enough writing to cover Australia.

Some things should never be read.

I stand at the Altar of these murdered men and while I live, I fight their cause.

Let them read that.

God spoke to me and called me to His service. What form this service was to take the voice did not say.

That, too.

Kindness to sick man, woman, and child came in with Christ.

The ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Growing up, Nightingale was surrounded by the political and social aristocracy of her day. In what ways did she subvert her class upbringing, and in what way did the privileges of her unusual home education and prestigious social network make her accomplishments possible?
  2. Lord Sidney Herbert, Secretary at War during the Crimean War, was Nightingale's friend and advocate. Their friendship was charged, at times contentious, yet grounded in a shared belief in political reform. How does their relationship evolve throughout the novel, and how did it influence the politics and policies of a nation?
  3. Wartime journalists, particularly William Howard Russell, ignited "Florence-mania" by frequent reportage on Nightingale's activities. What did she ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), known variously as the "Lady with the Lamp" or the "Ministering Angel" of the Crimean War (1853–1856), elevated the role of nursing into a profession—especially for women—in an era that had previously regarded female nurses with disdain. Relying on Nightingale's copious letters and journals and other documentary evidence, Melissa Pritchard's dazzling historical novel Flight of the Wild Swan brings this complex and idiosyncratic woman to exquisite life...continued

Full Review Members Only (794 words)

(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

Foreword Reviews
An inspiring novel about a woman whose single-minded determination comforted and inspired thousands.

Midwest Book Review
Exceptional.

New York Times Book Review
Melissa Pritchard makes Nightingale's heroism even more intimate—and more interesting.

Historical Novels Review
Powerful.

Booklist
From country houses to city slums and distant war zones, Pritchard renders the people and places of Florence's world in lush, richly detailed prose...A compelling story and satisfyingly human portrait of an extraordinary woman.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A fresh imagining of an icon...[Florence Nightingale], in Pritchard's portrayal, is an indomitable force.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Pritchard's splendid latest illuminates the life of Florence Nightingale... . The novel's brief scenes are both vividly intimate and wide-angled enough to capture the complexity of Florence's life and times...Marvelous and moving.

Author Blurb Joan Silber, author of Improvement and Secrets of Happiness
What an amazing book this is. Florence Nightingale—with her insistent spiritual yearning and her work inside the horrors of war—is a large and quite astounding character, evoked by Pritchard in full intellectual depth. The journey this novel takes is mesmerizing and unforgettable.

Author Blurb Joy Harjo, author of Poet Warrior: A Memoir and Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light
Flight of the Wild Swan is the best of Melissa Pritchard. It combines her exquisite ear for tone and detail in story, her gift of mystic perception, and her sense of the historic layering of human lives and the events that make our lives absolutely distinct. In this novel, you will come to know Florence Nightingale close up, not as a faraway, distant figure.

Author Blurb Suzanne Koven, MD, author of Letter to a Young Female Physician
Flight of the Wild Swan offers a fascinating immersion in the 19th-century world of drawing rooms and battlefields, crinolines and leeches. Just as vividly, Pritchard's tour de force evokes nursing and medicine today, when Florence Nightingale's pioneering contributions are still felt and in which women still struggle for equality. An enchanting, inspiring, and utterly relevant novel.

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Beyond the Book

The Crimean War and Disease

Florence Nightingale at Scutary [sic] HospitalThe Crimean War of 1853–1856 pitted the Russian Empire against an alliance of British, French, Turkish and Sardinian troops on the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. Britain entered the war in March 1854 to protect its trading interests with Turkey, while France saw an opportunity for revenge against the Russians after Napoleon's defeat in 1812. In military terms, according to naval historian Andrew Lambert, "it was a midway point between Waterloo and World War One."

The war foreshadowed the horrors of the American Civil War, employing Napoleonic tactics with improved weaponry. The human death toll was appalling—roughly 25,000 British, 100,000 French and up to a million Russians died. But the vast majorities of...

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Read-Alikes

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