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Nurse On Call: The True Story of a 1950s District Nurse
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Nurse On Call: The True Story of a 1950s District Nurse

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  31 reviews
'Never had I seen so many fleas! Startled by the daylight, they leapt in all directions, particularly mine. Quickly I peeled off her stockings and threw them on the fire, but by now the fleas had invaded her combinations. As for the fur coat, I shuddered to think ...'

Training in a hospital in the 1930s, Edith Cotterill's long hours on the wards included encouraging leeches
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2010 by Ebury Press (first published January 1st 1987)
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Ann Marie Teenager would be ok younger find difficult to understand, medical parts and it makes you cry,sad bits

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Jun 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bedtime-reading
Too much information. Ewwwww! I don't know whether this nurse's patients were particularly yukky, or whether we all end up being rather tacky, but I don't want to read about it.

I also couldn't follow the accents given for most of her patients, so didn't understand what they were saying. At the back of the book after reading it, I found a list of terms translating some of the odder words used, but for goodness sake that should have been at the beginning of the book, not hidden away at the end.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Jennifer Worth's 'Call the Midwife' series, so when I spotted this I picked it up looking for a different perspective on medical care in the 1950s. It isn't clear from what it says on the cover but a large portion of the book actually focuses on Edith's personal life, starting with her childhood and also covering her nursing training and family life. Despite not expecting them I really enjoyed these sections, and actually preferred them to the stories about her 1950s patients.

Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: three-star
As a nurse myself, I enjoyed reading about life as a trainee nurse in the 1930's and the authors experience of working as a nurse in the community in the 1950's. It provides a fascinating insight into life in a different era, working in a difficult profession against the backdrop of war and the introduction of the NHS.

I found the writing difficult to stomach in places, due the authors insistence of using regional dialect throughout. As a southerner, it was difficult to fully concentrate on her
Liz Harman
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loved it when I read it then, read it again this year 2010 when a friend bought it for my birthday, I thought bit's where formilular and then several months later I was clearing out some stuff in the loft and in an old suitcase I found my 1986 copy in hardback. So I've read it twice and enjoyed it both times. I became a District nurse myself in 1980 and most of what Edith wrote about 1950 hadn't changed much, I've just recently retired from District Nursing and basic of visiting peoples homes is ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was a very good book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Edith's past life is by far very interesting and I was quite amazed too. These were some elements of humour in this book which made me laugh and some very intriguing parts especially about what nurses used in the past. I almost cried in the last chapter, it was very very moving. Although this was a memoir, I chose to read it for research purposes. It has helped to some extent. I have even did a couple of fan art of this book too which can be ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
If you are expecting, "The True Story of a 1950s District Nurse", then you may be disappointed as that only represents a small proportion of the book. Having said that, overall, it's an interesting memoir of its time. Some of the advances in medicine (abandoning leaches!) one can be very grateful for!

I didn't get on well with the dialect - I can't hear it as I read it, unlike Scottish patter. Also the glossary is all very well, but most of the words I looked up weren't in it!

Be warned, it has an
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lovely book, evoking an era long-gone. However, the title is a little misleading, as we don't actually get to hear much of the author's work in the 50s. A lot is devoted to her early life and training, which is fascinating. Some of the timelines jump a little, but the anecdotes are just enthralling. The final story wrenches your heart and was clearly the inspiration to write the book.
Overall a lovely story and well worth a read. The world that she grew up in is long gone, and it's great that
KD Mackintosh
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't want to be sexist but I think this book will definitely appeal more to girls. You become increasingly attached to Edith the more you read and at points it even made me cry and gave me Nightmares about head lice (maybe best forgotten). Also having grown up near the black country where i was set it was interesting to hear about the history of the area from someone who experienced it. Edith is a brilliant writer drawing her audience in and in doing so allowing us to feel what she was ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book started off with lots of humour and a great insight into life in Britain between the two world wars. Behind the humour sometimes there was sadness and a horror at the way things were done back then, but overall a very positive, get on with it, attitude to life. Unknowingly an affection for Edith and her family creeps upon you and by the end when tragedy strikes one is caught unawares. A great read about a real person, you can relate to.
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is full of stories from Edith Cotterill from when she was a district nurse in the Black Country - West Midlands, England. Edith was born in 1916 in a cellar during a Zepplin raid on Tipton gasworks. She talks about her school days, training to be a nurse, marriage and having her two daughters as well as funny stories about patients she encountered. Finally, she tells about the death of her youngest daughter at the age of 17 in the last chapter of the book entitled Judith.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful hilarious book I am thinking of buying for a friend who is a nurse. Just when I thought about putting it down because of the strange jargon, I decided to stick it out, and boy am I glad. Edith Cotterill is such a good writer, but be prepared, there are some very sad parts in the book which left me in tears. I will treasure this book and will keep it to read in my old age. What a treasure.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
I tried to persevere with this book as it was a gift, but rather than being 'un-put-downable' I found it a chore to pick up and read. By the time I gave up, about a third of the way in, she still wasn't a district nurse. It was more an Edith Cotterill autobiography than tales of a nurse on call. A random collection of anecdotes from her life, and often dull ones at that. Not for me.
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up from an exchange box on holiday, when my kindle ran out of power one day!

This wasn't really my cup of tea, and seem to take forever to read - didn't enjoy the midlands dialect. There was some interesting anecdotes, but I wasn't expecting it to end as it did (won't spoil it for others!)

Wouldn't recommend to friends, but my mum may possibly enjoy it!
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a student nurse, I can fully appreciate the hijinks in this book. She made all the same mistakes that we all do in training, but we just carry on. This book was so much more than her training; it was about her journey through life and through life. At times it was sad but mostly it was funny and a brilliant dedication to her life and her nursing career.
Vanda Bromwich
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
The true story of Edith Cotterill a District nurse in the 1950's in the north of England. The book starts with her childhood and her first job working in a kennels, then follows her through her training in the prewar years and the years of WW 2.The story is told with humour and in a very down to earth manner - very readable.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it liked it
It was interesting, but not the book I thought it would be. I expected more about nursing in the '50's. It was more of a memoir of her entire life. Still a decent read, but I don't feel as if I would've "missed something" if I didn't read it.
Astrid Johanne
I bought this book at a second hand book store because I loved the Call the Midwife serie as well as the tv show. The book is different then Call the Midwife somehow but it is still a interesting read.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laughed and I cried .... once I got into the rhythm of the book I didn't like to put it down. As a comparatively recent nurse I could totally envisage her patients, have looked after a few I'm sure!
Jan Bailey
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is the autobiography - to middle-age of the author. It has some amusing and sad tales in it, but it was never a laugh-out-loud book for me. It portrays nursing and medicine in a different time, but basic care will never date.
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book couldn't put it Down just loved it - just so sad towards the end.
Michelle Green
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Just can't get into this book. Some parts made me smile but just not my style :(
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating insight into the life of this 1950's district nurse.

I doubt anyone could read the final chapter without bawling..
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was ok

Very slow start but improved towards the end.
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Would have been better if it was more than about 10% nursing.
Manda Graham
Dec 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dull couldn't finish this.
Yorky Caz
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: just-purchased
What a lovely lovely book - laugh out loud moments but its all real life stuff and so much of it is so moving - would very much recommend
Mavis Hewitt
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
More the story of her part of her life than just focusing on the District nurse side, end had me in tears.
Cheryl Bee
May 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It is more a memoir of the author. It tells very little about nursing, which is what I expected from the title. The last chapter is so heart wrenching though and thoroughly explains emotions surrounding death. In all an average read but certainly not the medical read I was hoping for.
Trish Pellowe
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hard read.

I enjoyed the tales of the nurse on call but found it very difficult to understand some of the things that were being said. It would have been helpful to have the translations as I as reading the book as it was indeed like reading a foreign language.
Gwyn Owens
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very sad ending.
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