Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nurse of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Collins Dunne, ©1973
Cover illustration by Edrien King

Cory Hanson didn’t consider herself a man-chaser, but it was six months since her fiancé, Paul Farron, had left Oregon for an engineering job with the Trask Valley project in Alaska—and she missed him! After writing Paul that she was flying out for a vacation, she gave up her apartment and her hospital job and boarded the plane for Kovarik. Once she reached the small sawmill town of Datlow Springs, Cory had to wait two weeks for Paul’s arrival. When he finally showed up, it was with the overwhelming news that he had just gotten married. Though Cory wanted nothing more than to return to Oregon immediately, an accident at the mill changed her plans—and laid the foundation for a surprising turn of events in the Land of the Midnight Sun.


“How could she convince him that this was for the best? ‘Really, this is all for the best.’ ”

Cory Hanson met Paul Farron at a party back in Portland, Oregon, when he was in town for a few months as part of his job as an engineer in Alaska. Two months of nightly dates and they were engaged, and three weeks after that, Paul returned to Alaska. Now it’s six months later, early June, and Cory has gotten tired of dreaming about her boyfriend and fighting with the mean old head nurse, so she quits her job and flies to Alaska to be with Paul.

In what should be no surprise to readers familiar with the genre, Paul is not there when she lands at the nearest town, Datlow Springs. There’s no way to get to the mining village where Paul works, so she takes a room at the local doctor’s house, helps out during the day, and waits for him to show up. Three weeks later, he does … wearing a wedding ring, the fickle cad.

The morning she is supposed to leave Alaska forever, there’s the customary medical emergency, in this case a mill explosion, and she winds up accompanying the badly injured patients to the nearest hospital in Kovarik. There, the local doctor, tremendously short-staffed, begs her to stay for a few weeks while one of his few nurses is out on maternity leave. She agrees, and starts dating around. What with women being in short supply up there in the woods, she soon snags a few marriage proposals, including one from Paul, who has left his new wife after a couple of weeks and is in the process of getting an annulment. Have I already called this loser a fickle cad? Cory tries hard to talk herself into marrying the other man, who she likes but does not love; a bush pilot, who has a reputation of being something of a swinger, sets her chaste heart a-pounding but doesn’t make her any offers and is seen around town in the company of a gorgeous blonde, way out of plain little Cory’s league.

I desperately wish that this book, half again as long as most VNRNs at 180 pages, could be summarized in more than these three rather dry paragraphs. But alas, no. While perhaps not quite as protracted as an Alaskan summer day, this book has little to offer in the way of interesting plotting, good writing, or campy poses. Apart from descriptions of occasional Eskimo characters, the sparsely populated villages, and the abundance of sunlight, this book could be set anywhere. So you should set this book down emphatically, and move on to something else.

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