Blog Tour: Guest Post - Nadine Dorries on inspiration behind The Angels of Lovely Lane

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be welcoming Nadine Dorries to the blog. Nadine will be telling you all about the inspiration behind her latest novel The Angels of Lovely Lane, which is the first book in a brand new series. It's a gorgeous piece and I really hope you enjoy reading it.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - The Angels of Lovely Lane
Author - Nadine Dorries
Publication Date - June 16th 2016
Publisher - Head of Zeus

It is 1953 and five very different girls are arriving at the nurses' home in Lovely Lane, Liverpool, to start their training at St Angelus Hospital.

Dana has escaped from her family farm on the west coast of Ireland. Victoria is running away from a debt-ridden aristocratic background. Beth is an army brat and throws her lot in with bitchy Celia Forsythe. And Pammy has come from quite the wrong side of the tracks in Liverpool.

The world in which they now find themselves is complicated and hierarchical, with rules that must be obeyed. Everyone has their place at St Angelus and woe betide anyone who strays from it.

But when an unknown girl is admitted, after a botched late abortion in a backstreet kitchen, a tragedy begins to unfold which will rock the world of St Angelus to its foundation.

Guest Post
by Nadine Dorries

Having trained as a nurse in the 1970s, I didn’t so much need to find inspiration for the Lovely Lane series, as let the memories I already had return to me. When I trained, the world of medicine was about to change in a dramatic way. I was on the cusp of the old giving way to the new and, at the time, I simply didn’t know – or realize – that the long, bright sunny wards I worked on, with two bathrooms down at the end, would not exist for very much longer. 

While I was writing the book, it occurred to me that if someone who had trained in the 1950s returned to an NHS hospital for the very first time today, she would be stuck dumb by how much nursing care had changed, to the extent that even the layout of a hospital ward would be beyond recognition. Maybe it was time to recapture that period of now-vanished social history in the form of a novel.

Many of the ward sisters I worked with had trained in the 1930s and ‘40s. They were furiously resisting change and, it has to be said, they were winning. In 1978, I was sent from my own general hospital to a cottage hospital – an outback post – to cover a nurse who was off ill, and I felt as though I had stepped back in time. There were white enamel cabinets, bedpans, trolleys, ornate molded drip stands with filigree patterns on the four legs, and a hospital matron who, when greeting me, looked horrified, as if I had crawled out of her apple. I was wearing make up, and that was simply not allowed in her cottage maternity hospital. Not even the women who came in to give birth were allowed to wear it. She even kept a bottle of acetone in her office should any patient arrive at the hospital wearing a scrap of nail polish.

I was so lucky to have trained in hospitals with the old-style Florence Nightingale wards – memories of the old Warrington Infirmary and The Northern in Liverpool were in my mind as I wrote. It is on these very wards my girls encounter their first dramas as student nurses. Lovely Lane home, where they all live, is based on Bewsey Road nurses’ home in Warrington. Just like every other nurse, I arrived on a Sunday evening with a suitcase, full of fear and trepidation, about to start my PTS training the following morning.

Nursing was a very special vocation in those days. We didn’t have access to televised TV dramas, and there was no internet full of information regarding medical illness. Everyone today is much better informed.  We stepped into the world of medicine completely unaware and unprepared. We could only have known what was about to face us if we had been patients ourselves, or had been unlucky enough to have someone close to us hospitalized. I had had neither.

Maybe that is the reason why everything that happened became so ingrained in my memory. It was all a first, both in knowledge and experience and it was so difficult to explain to others the world I worked in. Your emotions were bombarded on a daily basis. People at home had never spoken of death, or sickness and suddenly it was everywhere. If you were a nurse, everyone was fascinated to talk to you, wanting to ask a hundred questions and tell you all about the time when they were ill. 


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