2022 Reviews · historical fiction · new release · World War I

New Release Book Review: The Nurses’ War By Victoria Purman

Title: The Nurses’ War

Author: Victoria Purman

Published: March 30th 2022

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 608

Genres:  Fiction, Historical

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

There is more than one way to fight a war…An extraordinary story of grit, love and loss, based on the true history and real experiences of Australian nurses in World War 1.

‘Heart-achingly raw yet filled with the beauty of the human spirit, this novel is a triumph that will linger in the heart and psyche.’ Karen Brooks, author of The Good Wife of Bath

In 1915, as World War 1 rages in Europe and the numbers of dead and injured continue to grow, Australian nurse, Sister Cora Barker, leaves her home in Australia for England, determined to use her skills for King and country. When she arrives at Harefield House – donated to the Australian Army by its expatriate Australian owners – she helps transform it into a hospital that is also a little piece of home for recuperating Australian soldiers.

As the months pass, her mission to save diggers lives becomes more urgent as the darkest months of the war see injured soldiers from the battlefields of France and Belgium flood into Harefield in the thousands. When the hospital sends out a desperate call for help, a quiet young seamstress from the village, Jessie Chester, steps up as a volunteer. At the hospital she meets Private Bert Mott, a recovering Australian soldier, but the looming threat of his return to the Front hangs over them. Could her first love be her first heartbreak?

Cora’s and Jessie’s futures, their hearts and their lives hang in the balance as the never-ending wave of injured and dying soldiers threatens to overwhelm the hospital and the hopes of a nation rest on a knife edge. The nurses war is a war against despair and death, fought with science and love rather than mustard gas and fear – but can they possibly win it? And what will be the cost?


‘The four of them, so young in some cases and naïve in others, had believed themselves to be setting out on some kind of heroic adventure in which they would save the world and all the soldiers in it.’

Historical fiction seamstress Victoria Purman makes a welcome return thanks to her dazzling new timepiece, The Nurses’ War. Full of history, emotion, heartbreak and meaning, The Nurses’ War is a novel I highly recommend.

Victoria Purman’s The Nurses’ War is one of my own hotly anticipated releases of 2022. March 2022 couldn’t come quick enough for me and it pained me to save this one until the school holiday period. As The Nurses’ War sits in at over five hundred pages, I knew it was best for me to allocate an extended period of time to appreciate this one. It took me a lot longer than I expected to get through The Nurses’ War. Victoria Purman’s latest is a full bodied and absorbing title. With so many facts, information, experiences and details, you will want to savour this moving historical composition.

I really enjoyed the shared experiences of Sister Cora Barker and volunteer village lass Jessie. I liked how Purman compared and contrasted these two female figures, while at the same time emphasising this story as a tribute to the efforts of the nursing staff of World War I.  Enlightening, revealing, surprising, realistic and considered, I think Purman did a great job with this storyline. I was inspired to do a little more research on Harefield Hospital, the key stage setting of The Nurses’ War. I was also keen to look more into the experiences of Australian nurses sent to serve in British hospitals such as Harefield in World War I.  The history is this novel is fantastic and that is thanks to Victoria Purman’s undertakings.

With themes of loss, fear, sorrow, grief, sadness, separation, endurance, personal goals, health care, faith, mateship and love, The Nurses’ War concerns itself with the hardworking women who fought a different war to the men on the battlefields.

The Nurses’ War by Victoria Purman was published on 30th March 2022 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Nurses’ War, Victoria Purman, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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