Readers who like a good dollop of history with their historical romance will, I trust, enjoy DAISY ASHTON ABROAD. Daisy, the Cinderella heroine, having been booted out of her childhood home, is determined to become a nurse and serve in the Crimean War. Lucas Denton is a diplomat, disappointed that his and others’ efforts have failed to prevent the war. When Daisy joins a party of nurses sent to the front, Lucas arranges to be their government escort, concerned for Daisy’s safety. So the scene is set.
The 1850s was a decade of contrasts. It began with the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the famous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, to celebrate international achievements. Yet life for many was still quite primitive, there being no robust sewerage system for London, which had regular outbreaks of cholera. It ended with the Crimean War, closely followed by the Indian rebellion of 1857/8 that was to end the dictatorship of the British East Indian Company but replace it with British rule.
Most readers will have heard of Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, but perhaps be unaware of the controversy that plagued her time in the Crimea, from a less than robust recruitment system that led to many nurses being sent home in disgrace, to her rivalry for personal authority with both the army medical officers and a particular Catholic Mother Superior, who led a party of nuns to the front. The journals and correspondence of several of these women inspired this fictional story, which is written in the form of Daisy’s own journal.
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