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Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Most people know Florence Nightingale was a compassionate and legendary nurse, but they don’t know her full story. This riveting biography explores the exceptional life of a woman who defied the stifling conventions of Victorian society to pursue what was considered an undesirable vocation. She is best known for her work during the Crimean War, when she vastly improved gru
Kindle Edition, 197 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Clarion Books
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  205 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I love the way Reef wrote this biography. She doesn’t just present facts, but also delves into Nightingale’s thoughts and feelings through quoting from her letters as well as those of her family and friends. She met and became friends with lots of famous people of the time—authors Elizabeth Gaskell and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), poet Arthur Clough, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, African American nurse Mary Seacole, and even Queen Victoria herself. She had incredible energy, ambition, and determina ...more
A fantastic biography accessible for any reader that showcases the world that Florence Nighingale had to live in in order to be the most famous and legendary nurse that she is known as today. This biography focuses on the feelings of the family and society during her maturation and how adamant they were that she NOT follow her interests and passion though everyone commented on her smarts and abilities. But she endured and as she mentioned in several letters, no one wanted to see her leave the ho ...more
First sentence: Things happening at night had the look of old paintings.

Premise/plot: Catherine Reef has written a biography of Florence Nightingale. I would recommend it to those interested in Florence Nightingale (obviously), the Victorian period in general, the Crimean War specifically, and last but not least those interested in women's roles and rights in the nineteenth century. Readers learn about Florence Nightingale's struggle to follow God's call on her life: to be a nurse.

At the time sh
The first chapters about her upbringing were slow going and boring, but I was rewarded for my patience. Her efforts during wartime and her influence on the history of nursing were very interesting.
Ms. Yingling
Library copy

We're going to chalk this one up to a bad evening. I love biographies, I love stories of strong, influential women, and I think this book has a lot going for it. I just couldn't get into it.

The good side: I was impressed by the number of pictures and illustrations this one had. I think these are important for students, because it both engages and informs them. When dealing with the 1800s, there are often few illustrations that can be used. This is clearly well researched, and I am d
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Informative and well balanced biography of the famous nurse giving an excellent background of the context and times within which she lived and worked.
Interesting insights into her personality and driven nature and the effect it had on her friends and detractors.
Beautifully illustrated with primary source material.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more detailed biography than many for young adults, and includes many contemporary illustrations. I was impressed.
Edward Sullivan
Reviewed for professional publication.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the things that I've always admired about biography writers is the skill they demonstrate in choosing what to share with their readers. Naturally some writers are better at this than others, and it does relate to the purpose and sense of fairness of the author him/herself. I prefer biographies that show the person in all their humanness, the good and the bad, the remarkable and the ordinary. For me it is almost more impressive when the subject manages to do remarkable things despite their ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book and "Radioactive: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World" in close succession, and it is striking how determined these women had to be to accomplish their goals. Not only did they have to figure out what career to pursue, they then had to fight again and again to be able to live their dreams.

Nightingale grew up in a moderately wealthy family, so she was expected to marry well and have children. (And in Nightingale's case, she needed to mar
Neha Patel
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely biography of an inspiring nurse, who defied all odds to become the revered legend she is today! Florence was born to two parents named William and Fanny Nightingale. William was somewhat of a recluse who preferred to be in his library instead of out socializing with his guests. Fanny, on the other hand, was known to be a great beauty who reveled in company and preferred socializing over an evening of quiet solitude. Florence was to be their second and last child. Their older daughter wa ...more
Wow! What a woman. This was an incredibly inspiring book. How magnificent to see a woman so consumed with what she loved and so sure of her correct course. She helped define and shape the career of nursing from scratch and due to the integrity with which she lived her life, most likely popularized nursing quickly as a 'safe' sector for women to have a career.

I think this book is especially useful in young adult collections because it shows young women how a pioneer female exercised power, how sh
Laura N
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-review
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse is a fascinating look at the life of pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale. I was familiar with Nightingale, but I was surprised at what I didn’t know about this Victorian lady. The biography begins at the start of Nightingale’s life and follows the ups and downs of her journey to becoming one of the most celebrated nurses of all time.
I liked the
Ellen Klock
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky B
A biography of the woman who defied the conventions of the Victorian era and revolutionized nursing and hospital sanitation standards.

This is presented in a visually rich format with glossy pages and lots of paintings/sketches of Nightingale and the other related subjects that date from her time period. The font is also larger than normal and double spaced, making it easier on the eyes reading-wise too. The information is obviously well-researched and incorporates many primary sources. Nightinga
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse is a powerhouse biography of the world-renown creator of the modern nursing vocation. By firmly grounding Nightingale in the Victorian era, Reef succeeds in not just humanizing her subject; the author also underscores the extraordinary nature of her achievements because of her willingness to transcend her time’s social mores. Well-researched with a hefty bibliography, Reef also includes Nightingale’s own words about her need to ser ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Florence Nightingale was such a great example of a strong-willed woman who fought hard for the right to serve others through nursing in a time and place when nursing was frowned upon for a woman born to privilege. If you are looking for a wonderful, uplifting biography about someone who felt called of God to pursue something that is difficult at best as others around are fighting you every step of the way, this will inspire you. I loved the beautiful pictures and historic facts about other famou ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
When I was reading The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue, a few months ago, I found myself wanting to know more about Florence Nightingale and why she was so influential. I knew, of course, that she was a trail-blazer in modern nursing, but that was about it. Then I came across this YA book, and found it to be quite useful in relating the main points of Nightingale’s life, without the need to read a full-scale biography.

However, once the Crimean War was over I found that I had lost interest and returned
Kathleen Bianchi
Middle school book describing Florence Nightingale's entire life. Her greatest notoriety was her nursing during the Crimean war. She had to overcome much discrimination to become a nurse. It was not considered an honorable profession. She changed the worlds view on the nursing profession. She caught a serious disease during the Crimean War that plagued her all through her life. She died peacefully in her sleep at 90 years old.
Aubrey Hitt
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I knew nothing about Florence Nightingale until I read this book. This was a very profound story about the life of this brave nurse. This would book would also be a great science content read especially if talking about medicine and would be great social studies content with the information about the war.
One of my favorite things about the book was her stamina as a female during this time period. She fought for her rights as a woman in a male dominated society.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A clear portrait of this remarkable woman, whose vision and precise sense of order revolutionized nursing in England. Against her family's wishes, she trains at Kaiserwerth on the Rhine, a rare European institution for nurses. Ultimately, she volunteers to serve in the Crimean War., where she transforms the institution of nursing into a respectable profession for women as well as a highly competent body. An unusual and gifted woman.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Nice detailed biography of the famous nurse. Nearly every page has a color illustration from Florence's life. I did not know that she pioneered using pie charts when reporting health statistics! She lived a long life, never married. Another unusual fact I did not know: the British actress Helena Bonham Carter is a descendant of a family that was related to the Nightingales.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Perfect length book to learn about someone I have always wanted to know more about. The author has written other biographies that I look forward to reading. She keeps it in a story telling format that keeps the story interesting. I didn't realize her short 2 years opened so many influential doors for further progress in hospital sanitation and care of patients.
An accessible biography of a contemporary of Queen Victoria, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Elizabeth Gaskell. A woman who felt called to serve, but was frustrated by societal and family expectations, Florence Nightingale never ceased working for better conditions for the sick.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked that this title clearly laid out the difficulties a young woman of ambition faces in Victorian England, if you didn't have a man to care for you your life was all the more impossible. But Nightingale was determined and nursing and health is all the better for her.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I only knew the cliffs notes version of Florence Nightingale's life before reading this book. What an incredible woman. I love these biographies by Catherine Reef; the 3 I've read have been exceptional.
Covering more than just her "Lady with a Lamp" days, this biography of Florence Nightingale is a full and nuanced look at an inspiring woman's life. I came away with a new appreciation for this female trailblazer, even if it wasn't the most compelling biography I've read.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Includes photographs of Nightingale, drawings made of her by other artists, and some documents she wrote or that were written during her lifetime. Includes source notes and an index. Target audience: grades 5-8.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This biography is more interesting than any I’ve found on Nightingale. I especially like the info about Flo’s petty, jealous sister. One part about the sweet smell of an uncle’s brewery seemed inaccurate, but overall this is a good, easy read with nice visuals.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5/5 stars
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Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed JOHN STEINBECK and SIGMUND FREUD, which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.