No Place for a Lady

Written by Gill Paul

Set during the Crimean War, No Place for a Lady tells the story of Lucy and Dorothea Gray. Headstrong and romantic, Lucy elopes with Captain Charlie Harvington and accompanies him to the Crimea. Self-sacrificing and noble, Dorothea spends her days caring for her senile father, volunteering at a London hospital, and worrying about Lucy as the days turn to months and no letters arrive. Desperate to bring her sister to safety and repair their relationship, Dorothea joins a group of nurses sent to work under Florence Nightingale.

The conditions and events that both women witness and experience are terrible and vividly described, but the narrative is sometimes bogged down by the inclusion of historical persons or military manoeuvres that don’t necessarily move the plot ahead. Though the concept of the conflict between the sisters is compelling, unfortunately both characters are rather two-dimensional, and as a result the narrative lacks the emotional impact to drive it forward. As a historical novel No Place For a Lady works well, but it is let down by the emotional arc.