The Dark Circle
Post-war austerity London in 1949, and feisty East-ender brother and sister twins Lenny and Miriam Lenskey are shocked when they are both diagnosed with tuberculosis. They are sent, courtesy of the new National Health Service, to stay at a well-appointed sanatorium, known as the Gwendo, in rural Kent. The regime of passive rest, very often in the open air, comes as a shock to them both, as well as having to be in close confinement with both the staff and their fellow patients. The promised panacea of the streptomycin injections (which did eventually banish the worst threat of TB as a very often fatal disease) is frustratingly just around the corner. The twins accept that ideas of a quick return to London are not realistic, and they are sucked into the passive routines of the institution as well as their deteriorating health. But when a dynamic young American, Arthur Persky, arrives, he shakes matters up for Lenny and Miriam and the other patients. The establishment of the NHS also shakes affairs up for the medical director and staff of the Gwendo: no longer is it solely an elite establishment for the wealthy. All classes of British post war society are eligible for treatment there.
This is a superbly well-narrated story of a time in British society that is not all that long ago, but now seems an eon past. It is rooted in the conventions and culture of those days, and is entertaining, occasionally amusing and thought-provoking.