Vintage Medical Hospital Doctor Nurse Romance: Nurse Errant – Lucilla Andrews
The Joys Of Vintage Hospital Romances
Is There A Doctor In The House?
Ah, the joys of doctor-nurse romances. All our submerged authority complexes coming to the surface, the frisson of a girl in uniform, playing doctors and nurses… ahem. Lucilla Andrews is one of the real old-school hospital romance writers, starting out in the fifties with her actually-quite-famous The Print Petticoat. Her novels burst at the (white, starched, hospital-issue) seams with buxom, stern matrons, moody surgeons with furrowed brows and secret sorrows, and of course naïve, delightful young ‘probationer’ nurses, yearning to serve suffering humanity. Of course they tend to wind up ‘serving’ a moody surgeon who then becomes a moody husband. Poor probationers!
In fact this novel is rather atypical for Andrews and the hospital romance genre, in that its hero isn’t a surgeon. Or a doctor. Or moody, for that matter. And he’s Southern Irish into the bargain. Amazingly unconventional, for the times!
Nurse! The Screens!
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The Slow, Smouldering Build-up
At the outset of the book we’re introduced to Lesley, a district nurse, (Thank the Lord! We’re not in entirely foreign territory! And she’s got a 60s nursey-type bike with a basket and everything) and her sister, a secretary, who are sharing a cottage in a sleepy country village. They haven’t been there long, and as incomers are gradually introducing themselves to all the old inhabitants. One of these is the local GP, Mike. Is he the love interest, as one might surely expect in a Lucilla Andrews book? Surely he is? No? Say it ain’t so!
Being a hapless, accident-prone type (as our romantic heroines tend to be), Lesley manages to fall into the path of our actual hero. He is Paddy Larraby, a (say it low) architect (spit!) down from London visiting his auntie. Via plot twists too labyrinthine to enter into here, they manage to be obliged to spend the night together in a barn. (They just do, okay? It’s a romance novel. Get with the program.) It’s all very chaste but with a bit of a frisson of interest.
However ol’ Pads from their night together onwards pays our Lesley only the slightest, joshing, casual interest. Men! What is his game, eh? Lesley persuades herself she doesn’t really care – despite his deep, dark eyes and silky blond locks, and lilting Irish accent into the bargain. She even tries to take an interest in Mike the GP, but he’s just a bit too inoffensive and, well, nice.
...And The Tragic Hero
But Paddy seems to wear shades an awful lot. Then she catches him putting eyedrops in his eyes. Then his auntie lets something slip. Then Lesley finally catches on. (It’s taken a while at this point.) Paddy’s having an operation – and if it doesn’t work, he may go blind. Of course, he’s been massively smitten with her the whole time – but a manly man could hardly be expected to say so, under the circumstances. It wouldn’t be gentlemanly. (I felt a bit snivelly at this point the first time I read it. It’s quite effective.)
So of course she hares off to London to the eye clinic he’s holed up in and declares undying passion. He’s very stiff upper lip about it, but it’s pretty much an understood thing that when he gets out she’s bopping him over the head and dragging him up the aisle, guide dog or no.
So, what do you reckon, dear reader? Successful op or no? Go on, let’s hear your views…