Book review: A Nightingale Christmas Carol by Donna Douglas

18 Nov

A Nightingale Christmas CarolThe Nightingale Hospital, London, 1944

All that Dora Riley wants is her husband home safe for Christmas…

With her husband Nick away fighting, Dora struggles to keep the home fires burning and is put in charge of a ward full of German prisoners of war. Can she find it in her heart to care for her enemies?

Fellow nurse Kitty thinks she might be falling for a German soldier, whilst Dora’s old friend Helen returns from Europe with a dark secret.

Can the women overcome their prejudices and the troubles of their past to do their duty for their country?

This is the eighth book in Donna Douglas’s Nightingales series and Donna continues to create strong story-lines and to bring to life war-torn London of the 1940s. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love being back at the Nightingale and catching up with some familiar faces. If you’re new to Donna’s books, don’t be worried about starting here; the story reads perfectly well as a stand alone novel.

Starting in December 1943, A Nightingale Christmas Carol spans a two year period that finally sees the end of the war. Donna really gets into the heart and feelings of a nation that has been at war for many years and her descriptions of the devastation, loss and fear felt by the east end community are heartbreaking and thought provoking. Donna took me through all the emotions as I read this book and I admired the way the characters carried on and made the best of things at the worst of times. There’s an absolutely beautiful scene linked to the title of the book which actually brought tears to my eyes!

Donna focuses in on an interesting angle for this book; the treatment of German prisoners of war, in this case, those brought to the Nightingale hospital for treatment. I loved that Donna represented a complete cross-section of reactions to the German patients at a time when tensions were naturally high.  As ever, Donna takes a topic and weaves it skillfully into personal stories. Dora, Kitty and Helen all have strong reactions through the book to the German POWs and this added a strong tension and drama to the story and quickly showed their personalities.

Kitty and Dora’s stories in particular had me turning the pages as fast as I could and hoping for happy endings for both of them. Both are east end girls with extended family nearby and I liked the depth that this brought to the story as well as the side stories involving their parents and siblings. Kitty’s story brings the romance to the book and I enjoyed this aspect as she finds herself attracted to one of the German soldiers but catches the eye of a Scottish soldier.

Dora’s story tugged on my heartstrings as a mum. As well as working at the Nightingale Dora has six year old twins and her husband is away fighting. My heart was in my mouth whenever the story focused on Dora and Donna Douglas certainly threw in some shocking story-lines for her character.

A Nightingale Christmas Carol is another excellent read from Donna Douglas and if you’re a fan of wartime saga and historical romance then you should definitely put this book on your Christmas list!


A Nightingale Christmas Carol is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Donna and her novels at:

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Read Donna’s guest post on here inspirations for the book at:


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