Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Shadow of the Lamp

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2011
293 pages
YA; Historical
3.5/5 stars

Source: Library

Light spoilers!

I didn't know much about the plot and the period of this book when I picked it up; quite frankly I wasn't even sure were Crimea was until I just googled it now.  But an inside look at Florence Nightingale and her nurses during the Crimean War sounded super promising.

And just like I thought, the historical setting and details were fantastic and fascinating!  I loved reading about the high hygienic standards established by Florence Nightingale, how much of their initial nursing was gruntwork just to set up the hospital, and the personality of main character Molly.  Although she's pretty innocent in the ways of the world, she's a hard-worker, practical, and eager to learn.  Nightingale is also an interesting character with more depth than I had known about previously, as she struggles and overcomes challenges.

But then there was the romance, which had some odd elements.  First Molly is somewhat drawn to Will, who supported her in her first position and then followed her to the war zone.  But in the meantime, she has become interested in a doctor with whom she shares a mysterious connection.  One of them ends up dying and she ends up marrying the survivor but their romance doesn't quite work because it seems like she may have actually loved the dead man more.

There is also a mystical aspect as Molly's intuition about nursing takes over and gives her knowledge that she couldn't possibly have known.  It was bizarre and occurred in three main places.  I thought this was a straightforward historical and couldn't understand the insertion of these instances.

Overall: A rich historical novel about the Crimean War.

Cover: I really like the cover-it's accurate and it caught my eye.


  1. Great review. That romance element in the book sounds so sad! I love historical fiction, even though I haven't read one in a while, but I may try this one. ;)

  2. I really like this author, so I'm looking forward to reading this book. I love historical fiction, so in this respect, I'm thrilled about the time period used in this novel. I'm a bit worried about the romance, but we'll see. Great review!


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