The Seaside Angel

Written by Evie Grace
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

This is a Victorian novel set in Margate in Kent in 1884. Health and hygiene were not fully understood or appreciated, and diseases such as scrofula and consumption, forms of tuberculosis, were common. No one really understood how they were spread and within families were often thought to be inherited. I would recommend that readers take a little time to read the article ‘The Penny Lick: A Dangerous Treat’ at the end of the book.  In this story we follow the nursing career of Hannah Bentley, who at seventeen leaves her family home to escape an unwanted marriage and goes to London, where she begins her training as a nurse. She is sent to Margate, accompanying two sick orphan boys to the Royal Sea Bathing Infirmary, where she continues her nursing career.  Things go reasonably well until her younger sister, Ruby, also arrives in Margate, having also left home but she is more of a rebel and begins to cause trouble.   Can Hannah save her from disaster?

I enjoyed this book. The Infirmary really existed, and patients there were expected to spend much time out of doors in all weathers. Daily bathing in sea water was virtually compulsory. The characterisation is good, and life in Victorian Margate is well portrayed. Evie Grace has done her research well and produced a very entertaining novel.