All Change for Nurse Millie

Written by Jean Fullerton
Review by Janet Williamson

This sequel to Call Nurse Millie (HNR 64) opens in July 1945 as the National Health Service is introduced throughout the country. District Nurse/Midwife Millie (née Sullivan) marries Jim Smith, an aspiring politician.

Cycling through the war-ravaged streets to run various clinics, conducting home visits to the sick and terminally ill, monitoring difficult pregnancies, tending the injured and war-damaged, and handling cases of domestic violence rob Millie’s time and that of her nursing colleagues. Miss Dunstan, the spiteful Nursing Superintendent, allocates extra work as they adapt to new practices and procedures which prove difficult to implement in the post-war disorder. Life is demanding for the newlywed, who manages competently at a time when Jim insists on her canvassing beside him for the forthcoming election.

New patients having different expectations, changes in her mother’s and Aunt Ruby’s circumstances, and an interesting exchange with a manipulative hypochondriac lead to an enjoyable battle of wits, which could have destabilised a friendship. After a dramatic emergency, Millie calls the police and is floored when her former love interest Sergeant Alex Nolan attends the incident, believing him to be still working abroad. Their mutual attraction remains, but she omits to tell him of a change in her marital circumstances after the birth of her daughter, Patricia.

Plot strands are drawn together and resolved masterfully as she and Alex re-establish their friendship. Millie’s admirable, turbulent story is packed with evocative post-war details and is fast-paced, plausible, and highly engaging, though the complexities of the issues covered lend the story a darker, serious tone. Highly recommended.