By Jeanne Bowman
(pseud. Peggy O’More Blocklinger), ©1966
Nurse Merry Cowels was good at handling the problems of all her patients and friends. But when it came to her own love problems, she was at a loss. Because of her fear of letting her emotions go with Dr. Sam Baker and because of the emotional hodgepodge in her heart, Merry took a vacation from her work and from Sam … in order to think. But an accident brought handsome Les Carlson into Merry’s life and into her heart. Would Merry finally be able to let herself love and trust again, or would ugly rumors bring rejection once more?
“Her very going into training had been inspired by her—or was it their—belief such a profession could bring in needed income during the off fishing season.”
“Oh, eat your lunch; you’re disturbing the ducks.”
“She remembered the swan that had swung in from somewhere to the pond they’d sat beside that noon, lost from its flock but content, assured his inborn radar would carry him on, unless man and gunfire sought him as a trophy.”
“No, I will not kiss you. If you have picked up a few germs, I don’t want to catch any from you.”
I seem to be on a roll here, having just finished reading Peggy Gaddis’s finest book so far (Nora Was a Nurse), and now finding that Trust in Love is actually Peggy O. Blocklinger’s best as well. But before you start searching the internet for a copy, remember that this is the author who thus far has earned the only failing grade (for the spectacularly loony Conflict for Nurse Elsa; Door to Door Nurse secured a D). Her best is still pretty dreadful.
Marilyn Cowels, known as Merry, is a nurse at Westhills Hospital. She’s overworked and tired, and upset that when she ran into a former patient whose life she had saved, he asked her, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” She’s a bit loath to leave Dr. Sam Baker, despite what the back cover blurb says, but gosh darn it, she is really tired! She’s going back to her parents’ old house, which is between tenants, for a vacation. But on her way home she picks up a couple of hippies, called, I am sorry to say, Lad and Lass, and witnesses a car accident involving engineer Les Carlson. She saves the life of the old geezer who caused the accident, and is not too traumatized by the events to accept a date from Les. The next day, she turns up at the town doctor’s office to report what she saw at the accident and learns old Dr. Mathis is woefully understaffed. Soon she is suited up in her nylon uniform and efficiently ticking through the doctor’s to do list. Not long on the job, she manages to get all kinds of truths out of patients who have been seeing Dr. Mathis for decades, like the woman whose husband beats her, and the man—an old beau who dumped her—who has TB. So she never really gets that vacation.
She dates Les when he’s free, and Dr. Baker pops up from Westhills to see her from time to time. There’s a storyline about a suicidal woman artist who uses everyone and nearly starves to death when they get tired of it, but other than that, not much really happens. Except a lot of preaching: This book hasn’t met a cause it can’t take time to cluck over: elderly people swindled into buying homes in flood plains, pyromaniacs, duplicitous politicians, soil erosion, gun safety, bad drivers, war, impoverished nations, weapons in outer space. It’s like every one of the Berenstain Bears books under one cover. The author’s prose is not as spacey as it has been in previous books, but it still made me stop at times for a breath of fresh air. This book is neither entertaining nor interesting, and the writing is stilted and condescending. Sad to think the author has done a lot worse.