By Mary J. MacLeod
Arcade Publishing, 320 pages, $24.95
Mary J. MacLeod’s Call the Nurse shares the author’s experiences as a nurse on a small island in the Outer Hebrides in the 1970’s. Tired of the noise and speed in their daily world, she and her husband George decide during a holiday on the island to invest the next few years of their lives with their two younger sons on that same island. As it happened, they needed a nurse and she was one.
“So why do I feel homesick when I listen to the ‘Hebrides Overture’? Why after so long do I smell peat smoke as it rises in blue snakes from the white chimneys of tiny croft houses? And feel the soft, damp air on my face and see again purple mountains, tumultuous seas and small, nameless islands in the bays?”
A different language is spoken in this book with terms like ‘croft’, ‘byre’, ‘Rayburn’, ‘locum’ and ‘wellies’, as well as dialogue in island dialect. MacLeod smoothly captures it all with clear affection. Each chapter blooms as a snapshot of life on the island with stories of the ‘locals’ and those of her own family as they participate in the life around them. Her descriptions of the sea, weather and land leave a clear picture of the raw beauty in which this life takes place. Her style draws the reader into that world for visit.
Reviewed by Mary-Lynne Monroe
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