Cover Image: The War Nurse

The War Nurse

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Wow. Just breathtaking. See the tragedy and poignancy of WWI through the eyes of a nurse. This is based on a true story, which is what captivated me to pick it up. I am also a nurse and truly appreciate tales of those who have gone before. The historical details are well researched and written in a way so as to transport the reader there to the war tents. I cannot even begin to imagine what these women experienced, but this book does a great job of bringing it to light. Julia pushes the boundaries, as many nurses do to actually see change occur, because they are driven by the needs of the people they are called to serve. I highly recommend this account of one woman determined to make a difference.

I received a complimentary copy, with thanks, from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are solely my own and freely given.
Was this review helpful?
Historical Fiction

This book tugged at my heart strings and was such an emotional read. It was meticulously well researched and I very much appreciated the amount of detail that was put into the novel. It was very evident how much work Wood put into The War Nurse.

I would definitely recommend this to any historical fiction fan or anyone who wants to read a well written story.
Was this review helpful?
The War Nurse is the story of Julia Stimson, the Superintendent of Nurses at Washington University, and what happens after she is tasked to train five nurses to take over nursing at a field medical station from the British Expeditionary Force in WWI France. She ended up having to deal with Doctors who through nurses were glorified chambermaids and British Army officers whose station in the Army was determined more by which titles were attached to their name than any ability to perform as an Army officer in a warzone.

Stimson finds her decisions second-guessed or ignored entirely, and battle decisions being made by ego instead of intelligence. This in addition to horrific injuries--injuries that in previous wars would have shortly killed a soldier now could be survived--lack of medicine, supplies, and in some cases any common sense.

The war finally runs down, but there's now a new issue--soldiers are coming to the field tent with respiratory ailments that are killing them. Stimson finds that the Doctors are no more cognizant of what's going on than they were with battle injuries. If the illness is to be controlled, Stimson will have to do it on her own...

The story is true--like most Historical Fiction there may be characters who are amalgams of many, and names changed--but the utter slog of dealing with war and arrogance is true. This leads the reader to have to expend a bit more effort to make it through the story, but it's well worth it.
Was this review helpful?
I requested this book as background reading for a discussion we are currently hosting on BookBrowse (agreed with Valerie and Tiffany in marketing).

You can see the discussion at

and this is a link to our "Overall, what do you think ...." thread - which are essentially reviews of the book by participants in the discussion:
Was this review helpful?
The War Nurse is an interesting book but not a very good story. I love the idea of a nurse writing a book about a little known nurse, but the writing was a little dry. So much of The War Nurse felt like Tracey Enerson Wood was simply reporting facts through Julia Stimson rather than telling a story. Sometimes we put so much effort into research that we feel the need to include every last detail, and I think that's what happened here. I'm a medicine nerd who like to get lost in the weeds sometimes, so I did find the information interesting, but I'm not sure if lay readers would feel the same way. From a storytelling perspective, there wasn't a very strong plot and there wasn't much of an emotional impact because the story was so bogged down by facts there wasn't any room left for character development. I personally found the storyline involving Marie Curie particularly unnecessary and the idea of an award-winning scientist getting caught up in Parisian gossip and the love life of a relatively unknown nurse was really distracting.
Was this review helpful?
This is a gripping story of Julia Stimson, the Superintendent of Nursers at Washington University Hospital in St. Louis. Tasked with the job of recruiting nurses to take over a field hospital in WWI, she must create and lead a team that will battle the ravages of war and the start of the Spanish flu, as well as the prejudices and sexism from male doctors unwilling to work with and respect female nurses. 

Based on the life of this female pioneer, The War Nurse is sweeping novel with a wonderful sense of time and place, richly detailed and an engrossing read.

A welcome novel for fans of historical fiction, WWI fiction and works with strong female characters.
Was this review helpful?
This book is the amazing true story of Julia Catherine Stimson and the unbelievable work she and her nurses did to save lives and help people during World War I. Through careful research, this book shows the bravery and compassion of women who find themselves in extraordinary situations. Definitely worth reading.
Was this review helpful?
THE WAR NURSE by Tracey Enerson Wood

Thank you to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark and the author for a digital ARC for my honest review.

I found this to be a very interesting read based on Julia Catherine Stimson, who played a key role in developing the standards for the nursing profession during WWl. It's always great to learn about such courageous people in our past history. I really enjoyed this book.

#TheWarNurse #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
Title:  The War Nurse
Author:  Tracey Enerson Wood
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Superintendent of Nurses Julia Stimson must recruit sixty-five nurses to relieve the battle-worn British, months before American troops are ready to be deployed. She knows that the young nurses serving near the front lines of will face a challenging situation, but nothing could have prepared her for the chaos that awaits when they arrive at British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France. The primitive conditions, a convoluted, ineffective system, and horrific battle wounds are enough to discourage the most hardened nurses, and Julia can do nothing but lead by example―even as the military doctors undermine her authority and make her question her very place in the hospital tent.

When trainloads of soldiers stricken by a mysterious respiratory illness arrive one after the other, overwhelming the hospital's limited resources, and threatening the health of her staff, Julia faces an unthinkable choice―to step outside the bounds of her profession and risk the career she has fought so hard for, or to watch the people she cares for most die in her arms.

I enjoyed this read. Julia was an interesting character:  she has a fairly distant personality—she keeps her emotions in a little box—but she wants to be close to people. She’s motivated by her desire to make things better for the people around her, whether the patients, her fellow nurses, or the doctors.

The blurb makes it sound like the respiratory illness is a HUGE part of the novel, but it really wasn’t. The bulk of this story is Julia’s internal conflict. Even the war itself isn’t an on-screen character, it’s more background and setting. This is a solid read about a fascinating woman.

Tracey Enerson Wood is from New Jersey. The War Nurse is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.)

(blog link live 7/20.)
Was this review helpful?
The War Nurse, Tracey Enerson Wood’s new historical fiction novel based on a true story set during World War I, reads like a memoir with the protagonist as the narrator. Early in her life, Julia Stimson encounters prejudice that will follow her intermittently as long as she lives. Family expectations for her brothers include prestigious careers while they would not support her dream of becoming a physician. It is assumed nursing will be the pinnacle for her. Even in the early stages, her drive and independence should have brought an alert that important things are ahead for her.
In time, she becomes the superintendent of nurses, responsible for recruiting sixty-five American nurses to help the British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France with its personnel already suffering from battle fatigue. She develops a warm relationship with her nurses, always keeping her role as leader rather than becoming one of them. Regular problems include primitive working conditions, horrible battle wounds, and doctors who question her ability and decisions. Then the day comes when groups of soldiers arrive carrying a mysterious respiratory disease that is killing many of them and threatens the lives of her nurses. More than once, she must face a decision whether to save a life when it requires her to go beyond what she is authorized to do
The author lightens the tension with dashes of humor, the transfer of Julia’s brother to her area, and a bit of romance while keeping an authentic feel for the life Julia leads. The author’s note at the end adds information about the real people who are part of her novel and a bit of what happened afterward.
Was this review helpful?
Julia Stimson is tasked with finding 65 nurses to serve near the front lines in Rouen, France during the Great War. Nothing could have prepared her for the primitive conditions and ineffective systems in place. She tries to lead by example but ultimately struggles with staying inside the bounds of her profession when she is watching those she cares for die in her arms.

Even with a little bit of a slow start, I quickly became engulfed in the life of British Base Hospital 12. When I learned that most of the main characters were real people in history, it made me fall in love with the story even more. This gave life to a true pioneer in the medical field and showcased all of the hardships she went through.
Was this review helpful?
I very much enjoy reading historical fiction books and this one is from WWI.  

Julia Stimson is tasked with rounding up 64 nurses to take to the war even before the US has entered the war. They arrive in France and are to relieve a British group of doctors and nurses.

The book takes you through all the learning curves that they must go through to give the wounded soldiers the best care possible even in the poor conditions that they worked in daily.  

Ms. Stimson is a very strong lady, very hard working and fiercely protective of her nurses and is constantly fighting for them.  Her brother is injured in the war and comes to get mobile hospital and begins to research infectious diseases in children.  Julia might have a little romance budding with a DR too.

Highly recommend this book and thank you for the early digital copy.
Was this review helpful?
As a RN I’m always interested in stories that feature Nurses, particularly from different eras. It’s fascinating to read how the profession was in earlier years. I was pretty excited when I was approved for a DRC of The War Nurse. Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark.

Set during WWI, this tale follows Julia Stimson as she embarks as the Superintendent of Nurses at an aide station/hospital in France. I enjoyed reading about the descriptions of nursing near the battlefront and also of the evolution of nursing practice as situations such as Spanish flu arose. I also so appreciated the multiple appearances of Marie Curie - such an engaging addition.

What I struggled with was finding a connection with Julia. Her story was told in a way that felt clinical gto me and didn’t open into a multidimensional view of her. I also wish the story was told from more then just Julia’s point of view. I’m curious as to how others viewed her and the situation they were working in. 

Overall, this was a solid historical fiction read but one I wish I was able to engage with more.
Was this review helpful?
If you like your historical fiction with a touch of romance, then you’ll enjoy The War Nurse. You’ll love this one even more if you like learning about real women who push the boundaries of their era and achieve results. Julia Stimson lives  in a man’s world in the early 20th century. She comes from a family with high expectations, yet they still expect her to fill a woman’s role while she is making a difference. Julia truly wants to become a doctor, however, she cannot afford to pursue her dream without her family’s support. Nursing is a more socially acceptable role for a woman. As a nurse Julia still comes up against men who want to hold her back, but she never gives up. 

Tracey Enerson Wood is quoted in the back matter as saying that she chose to focus on personal experiences rather than battles and gore. For readers who prefer a lighter touch, this works very well. The parallels to the 1917-1918 influenza outbreak and the coronavirus outbreak are remarkable. Treatment and sanitation practices at the time were developing slowly. This book will be a hit with medical practitioners. I’ve already ordered a copy for my sister, a retired nurse. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
In 1997, I had the opportunity to talk with my 101 year-old  great uncle about his experience in WW I. (He was able to wear his uniform on his hundredth birthday). His job was to drive a lumber truck to the soldiers building trenches. I learned so much about what these soldiers went through during and right after the war. This began my interest in learning more about the war. Author Tracey Emerson Wood has extensively researched the life of Julia Stimson who in 1917 was the Superintendent of Nurses in charge of training new nurses at Washington University in St, Louis. The Red Cross identified the school to be activated in an emergency. She was given six weeks to recruit 65 nurses to relieve the British Expeditionary Force Hospital in Rouen, France. She instituted new procedures at the hospital which often had almost three times the number of patients in the 500 bed hospital. I was fascinated to learn what the doctors and nurses did during the war including many advances for the medical profession. Especially with the past many months of Covid, it was interesting to find out the Spanish Flu attacking soldiers and how masks were used. My thanks to Sourcebook Landmark and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood is a historical novel of the Great War in France. Based on a true story of World War I nursing. Nursing practice was very different from what we know today. Influence of the development of procedural changes in emergency intake, radiological technique, oxygen delivery to patients and other practices are still evident today. I smiled at one of the physician‘s descriptions of the roles of physicians and nurses. Some things never change. 
I wish I had asked nurses from previous generations more about their nursing experiences but reading this book answered many of my questions.  Ms. Wood provides excellent historical details and insights into early 20th Century medical practices. I highly recommend this book to anyone who lives and loves medicine. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately I put this book down halfway through I grew bored of the story. I felt like I was waiting for something big to happen in the story, and I didn’t want to read on to see when or if there would be something.
Reading about women nurses in the war, I was hoping for a bit more excitement.
Was this review helpful?
The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood sort of dragged on and I ended up having to put it down around 35% because it wasn't keeping my interest. The historical fiction elements of this are fascinating and seeing the courage of the war nurses is inspiring, but the character development was at a snail's pace and I didn't see it getting better. Sadly, I have set this one aside "for now." I may finish it letter. 

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an e-copy of this book for review.
Was this review helpful?
This is the last book I'll try from this author. She tries to stuff all her research into the book somehow which makes for stilted conversations and unnecessary detail. Also this book came out around the same time as Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig with a similar story but much better in the telling.
Was this review helpful?
With all the books out there set during the Second World War, I was pleased to find this one, which takes place during the First World War. I also found it interesting that the main character is based on a real woman. The novel was well written, with accurate descriptions of the situation in France, and the character development was excellent.
Was this review helpful?