(pseud. Adeline McElfresh), ©1959
Special-duty Nurse Nancy Davies thought her case with Angela Crayton, the famous actress, would be a dream. She lived with the beautiful star in her summer home where Angela kept open house for all her
“She’s so sure she’s going to die on the table, I wouldn’t be surprised if she does.”
“Everyone knew that Lee Saltonsbie was counting the days until he would go into private practice and ‘get started on my first hundred thousand.’ ”
“Clay’s future in politics had nothing whatever to do with their growing apart. If they had, she thought. No, it was her career—her dedication to it—that was causing the trouble.”
“Angela was improving. Or seemed to be. Sometimes, with these mental things, you couldn’t tell.”
Nurse Nancy Davies is one of those sad VNRN heroines engaged to a man who not only is unfortunately named Clay Randall but who is not the man she thought he was when they met in Maine last summer “on a glorious vacation of sunswept days and moon-drenched nights. They were a bronzed god and a laughing nymph alone in the enchantment of their love,” if you must know. Unfortunately, however, these deities were obliged to go back to work, and now she’s desperately trying to convince herself that her fiancé doesn’t have feet of Clay—and there’s only so much of this a reader can take before you’re ready to pummel Nurse Nancy right upside the head. “She didn’t hate Clay; she couldn’t do that. But did she love him? She had at first—of course she had! she told herself sternly. Surely that surge of happiness, the wonderful, exciting, different happiness, had been love! She wasn’t the type of girl to fall lightly in love and then out … and yet …”
See what I mean?
Clay, it turns out, is ambitious for a career in politics, and so
Anyway, the central plot is also somewhat patronizing, at least to faded theater star Angela Crayton, who once was the queen of Broadway but after three successive flops about a decade ago has holed herself up on the shores of
So the book is mostly a tennis match between Nancy’s distaste for her fiancé and her work as a typist and spy, noting every despondent look and midnight drive of Angela’s, and doing absolutely nothing about it. Eventually Dr. Howard strikes on the idea of having the local theater group stage the play that was Angela’s greatest triumph and asking her to reprise her starring “rôle”—and have a Hollywood director offer her the leading part in a movie. Just the thing to shake off the crow’s-feet blahs!
As Angela naturally improves under this thoughtful treatment, she eventually fires
This is a pedestrian, automatic, stupid book. It’s not badly written, and its most irritating aspects—its views on psychiatry, and Nancy’s reluctance to give up a man she doesn’t like and a future she will despise—can in part be chalked up to the archaic attitudes of the times. But the book is lazy, and the heroine who cannot acknowledge the dichotomy between adherence to sexist attitudes and the complete abandonment of logic and reason that these positions require is not worthy of our time. No one—especially not nurses, who are by definition strong, independent, smart, and capable—should be a willing victim. While I’ve certainly read nurse novels that are far worse than Nurse Nancy, I find after a couple hundred VNRNs under my belt I am becoming increasingly intolerant of stupid heroines, and so I cannot suggest that you stop and visit with Nurse Nancy.