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Edith Cavell Book Review

Updated on March 1, 2018

About the book

  • Author: Diana Souhami
  • Published: 2015
  • Publisher: Quercus

I decided to purchase this book from Amazon. Coming from Norfolk myself, I have heard of Edith Cavell and walked passed her monument many times in the city of Norwich. So I'd always had this interest in her, and when I came across this book, I decided to buy it. I'm glad I did as this book tells us about Edith Cavell's life and career in the Nursing profession.

This book covers her early life in Norfolk and her career as a nurse. The book tells us about her upbringing in quiet Norfolk to strict Christian parents. Her father was the vicar of the local Church. Born in Swardeston, near Norwich in Norfolk, on 4 December 1865, she came from a loving family and attended Church each week. When she finished her education, she had gone to Belgium to be a governess to two children. But she returned to Norfolk to care for her sick father. After his death, this led her into going into nursing as a career. She didn't go into nursing until she was 30 yrs of age. She became a probationer at the London Hospital and became a model nurse with outstanding reports.

It was in 1907 she returned to Brussels to become Matron of a new hospital called L'Ecole Belge d'infirmieres Diplemees. She was fluent in French, and enjoyed her job. She was recruited by Dr Antoine Depage. When WW1 broke out, she was actually visiting her mother in Norfolk at the time. But she had returned to Belgium anyway as she was by then in charge of opening a new hospital and had nurses working under her to help with the running and transferring patients from the old hospital to the new one.

When Germany occupied Belgium, Nurse Cavell began helping the wounded soldiers, both British and German, providing them with false papers and money, and helping them cross the border into nearby Holland. It wasn't just the British and German she was helping, it was the French and Belgians too. She, and others, helped over 200 men escape. On 3 August 1915 she was arrested and charged with harbouring allied soldiers. For the next 2 months she would be in St Gilles Prison in Belgium. She was sentenced to death and on 12 October 1915 was shot by a firing squad.

This led to an international outcry, not only because, firstly, she was a woman and secondly, because she a nurse simply helping other human beings.

Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone.

— Edith Cavell

My Thoughts

The book is divided into 6 parts with sub-chapters under each part. This I find useful as I found it better broken down like this. Each part tells us about her life growing up in Norfolk, and her career as a governess, then into Nursing and finally with the outbreak of war and her ultimate untimely death. The book is 478 pages long with a useful few pages at the back of the book of notes and sources of information, both in book and digital form.

What I like about this book is there are also quite a few photographs in the book of Edith Cavell and places of interest like where she worked, lived and the people she worked with. The book gives us an insight into the life of Edith Cavell. She tirelessly worked at helping people and devoted her life to nursing. The nurses that worked under her and the people that worked with her admired her with affection. She even rescued a stray Jack Russell dog whom she aptly called Jack. She even thought of Jack when she knew her outcome in court, making sure he is to be kept fed and brushed. Edith Cavell truly had a warm heart and had compassion for people less fortunate than herself.

The author goes into great detail in Edith's early life, her strict upbringing and her loyalty to her role as a nurse. She clearly had a big heart and had compassion for people less fortunate than herself. The book portrays the life of Edith excellently and how she helped the wounded soldiers that passed through her doors. This is a really interesting book to read, and there are parts of the book that really pulled at my heart strings. I had to ask myself why. Why would a woman who simply went out of her way to help others get treated like this? It does beggar belief. But it is a thought-provoking and very interesting book on the life of a woman who dedicated her life to helping others.


Edith Cavell book

© 2018 Louise Powles


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    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      2 years ago from Tennessee

      I think this is a book I would enjoy reading. Thanks for bringing her to my attention.

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Dora. Her family requested that her remains be reintured in Norwich Cathedral rather than Westminster Abbey in London. Very apt I think as she did love Norfolk.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      What a sad death for a compassionate human being! Must be awesome being from the same area and walking past her monument. Thanks for telling her story!

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Linda. Yes, it was very sad to read the story about her. But, it's a compelling book to read.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I first heard about Edith Cavell when I was very young. She was a brave and kind woman. The way in which she died was so sad. Thanks for increasing my knowledge about her life.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      2 years ago from UK

      Interesting. Will have to look into her.

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Yes Flourish, I pointed out Jack because I felt for the dog too. He pined for Edith after her arrest. It's such a sad tale of a woman who should never of got shot for what she did.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      It’s important to highlight brave heroines and the contributions they have made. I enjoyed the review and was touched by her compassion, including that for Jack.


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