Saturday, January 18, 2020

Nurse Templar

By Anne Weale, ©1960
Cover illustration by Jack Harman

The bustling atmosphere of a brand-new, modern residential community is the background of this charming story of a young midwife, the pleasant doctor who loved her, and the not-so-pleasant but oh! So attractive man who did not. Linden knew she was being foolish to think of Randal Craig. He was too wealthy, his family too exclusive, for her. She must put him firmly out of her mind … but that was easier said than done.


“That’s your trouble—you’re much too independent.”

“It must have been men like this, whose whole manner suggested a kind of tolerant patronage for everything feminine, that had sparked the suffragette movement, she thought impatiently.”

“She’s mad on dietetics, so don’t let her know you’re living on baked beans and sausages.”

“In my father’s time, midwives were mostly elderly dragons with tremendous biceps and a quelling manner.”

“The first thing the nurses do is warn newcomers what a difficult lot of cranks they’ve got to put with.”

“I’m convinced that a lot of women are persistently run down because they refuse to eat sensibly.”

“I hope you’re not tearing off to deliver quads, darling. We’ve come for lunch.”

“I wish someone would ask me to marry him! I’m sure the production side is much easier than the delivery service.”

“Linden wondered what lay behind her militant attitude to life. A girlhood sacrificed to invalid parents, perhaps, or merely the fact of being born a generation before cosmetics were a lady-like means of improving a plain face.”

“Mothers-in-law are much more popular when they keep at a reasonable distance.”

“I think the important thing is to take the chances in life, to gamble a little. It’s the chances one has missed that one always regrets, you know.”

Linden Templar is a 24-year-old nurse midwife, the first midwife I’ve met in a VNRN. That basically means that she’s on call a lot if someone goes into labor, and she also does prenatal clinic and postnatal home visits. She’s just accepted this job as the book opens, and is being seen off by an overly affectionate longtime male friend who unexpectedly grabs her as she’s settling into her train compartment and bestows an ardent smooch. The horror is that the man she is sharing the compartment with sees this and calls her “a youthful femme fatale,” and Linden will never forgive him, never! Unfortunately, he turns out to be Randal Craig, who serves on the hospital board of directors and whose sister-in-law Paula is one of Linden’s patients. So there are lots of run-ins with the man during which he is archly amused and she is icy and barely civil.

You are just not going to believe this, but before long Linden discovers she’s in love with the perplexing man, who continues to find ways to spend time with her while jousting with her when she’s snippy. More frustrating encounters ensue, until the end, when all is set to rights after Linden, who has stupidly told him to go away and leave her alone when she means the opposite—because to respond honestly would be chasing him—mercifully she comes to her senses: “Suddenly she knew that her whole life was balanced on this  moment. She could keep her pride and lose all chance of happiness; or she could call him back and chance that her hope was true. Somehow, now that he was walking out of her life, pride didn’t seem important any more.” Unfortunately, she is spared the burden of actually speaking her mind when he trips on a roller skate left on the stairs and she runs to help him. He sees her tears and says, “You don’t cry over someone you dislike,” and takes her in his arms. Pride and true love saved!

There’s not much to the relationship between Linden and Randal, and he’s so aloof—not unrightly so, as she is quite unfriendly to him—that it’s hard for the reader to see what’s to love there. Their interactions are pretty frustrating, and the relationship doesn’t really develop as much as it just suddenly breaks another way along with his ankle on the stairs. And it’s made fairly clear that Linden is likely to chuck to career when she’s married, because whether or not she works “would depend on my husband’s view,” and Randal has stated that “I wouldn’t want to come home and cook my own supper. An efficient staff is no substitute for a full-time wife.” Since Linden seems to appreciate her independence and strength, it’s especially disappointing that she is stupid enough to trade it in for someone else’s idea of happiness. If overall it’s a decent enough book, it’s not special enough to make it outstanding.

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