Rated Reads

In the Shadow of the Lamp

by Susanne Dunlap

Rated: Mild

In 1854, there aren’t a lot of respectable opportunities for young girls in London, so when parlormaid Molly hears that a Miss Nightingale is looking for nurses to join her in the Crimea to tend to the soldiers, she will do whatever it takes to join the group.

Of course, Molly isn’t actually a nurse, but she is naturally gentle, with a talent for helping the sick, and there is so much to learn. Miss Nightingale runs a seriously tight ship, and somehow Molly keeps ending up under her disapproving eye. Slowly, of course, Molly gets the hang of life as a wartime nurse, and a certain young doctor who catches her eye makes life confusing and exciting, especially since there is a boy at home who’s still on her mind.

I really enjoyed this story. I loved seeing Florence Nightingale from this angle, from the point of view of a young girl just starting out in the world who viewed Florence as some kind of nursing goddess. I think that the wartime violence and all that went with it felt accurate and appropriately painful without being overly graphic (or really all that extensive). The love triangle kept the plot going along; it surprised me sometimes. There is a soft sense of magical realism in the story, in certain scenes, that I found intriguing (others might be a bit distracted by it in this very historical story). My only complaint is that the ending left me with a few too many questions. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending, actually, but it was harder for me to suspend my disbelief than I would’ve liked. Still, it is absolutely worth picking up, especially if you’re a historical-fiction buff like I am.

Rated: Mild for wartime violence/amputation scenes as well as one character who we are to understand was a prostitute. Another teen character gets pregnant out of wedlock, but there is no talk of the sexual act. None rating for adults.

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

One Response to In the Shadow of the Lamp

  1. Nancy Jensen says:

    Thank you so much for rating this book. My middle school daughter is researching Florence Nightingale for her history fair and is loving the book, but then I got wondering if it would be appropriate for her, since I haven’t read it myself. I’m glad to know it is “mild.” Thank you for your very helpful service

in the shadow of the lamp
  • In the Shadow of the Lamp
  • by Susanne Dunlap
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: