Sunday, February 19, 2023

Nurse Janice Calling

By Isabel Cabot (pseud. Isabel Capeto), ©1964

Janice Carlisle had come back to her home in New England for one reason—to win the love of the man she had not been able to forget, Dr. Adam McBain. In her new job as visiting nurse, she had many chances to come in contact with the handsome, charming doctor. But she met others as well—notably the brilliant young surgeon, Dr. Ed Sheldon, his life shadowed by a tragic accident. Suddenly Janice’s life was no longer simple. Now there were two men in her life, and when she stumbled upon a frightening secret from the past, she knew she faced a choice that could mean happiness—or heartbreak.


“When I came through that door, I was tied up in knots. Now I feel as if I could go out and lick half a dozen diseases still unnamed.” 

Janice Carlisle has moved back home to New England after finishing college and nursing school on the West Coast. It must be confessed that a large part of the draw is Dr. Adam McBain, upon whom she’s been crushing since high school. He’d married someone else, but his wife had conveniently died on the table during a routine gallbladder surgery (I have to interject and say this never actually happens) two years ago, so Janice is hoping to help soothe his broken heart. She takes a job as a visiting nurse, and soon discovers that the widow in charge of the VNA, Ruth Hoxsie, is Adam’s new love interest. 

Soon after arriving home again, she meets Dr. Ed Sheldon one morning as he is repairing his car while wearing a tuxedo, and enjoys an ocean swim and coffee with him afterward, but curiously tells her friend later that she finds him annoying. “All that you’ve seen in my eyes, friend, is near rage at the brass of Dr. Sheldon to look at me as if he can’t wait to go a round or two in the back seat of some parked car.”  Even more bewildering, she then notes that he’s “darn attractive,” adding, “I would probably enjoy a session or two of parking with the gentleman myself.” So what’s the problem, then?

Despite her attraction to Ed and Adam’s attraction to another woman, Janice decides to set about “exercising her womanly wiles” on Adam in an effort to win him away from Ruth. This causes some raised eyebrows amongst her friends and colleagues, but Ruth herself doesn’t seem to mind and sends Adam over to Janice’s house for coffee on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, we learn that Ed is a brilliant surgeon who experienced two patient deaths back-to-back: his mentor, and Adam’s wife. Now he can’t operate unless his cocky but inept surgeon partner is in the OR with him, even for a routine appendectomy. When the sidekick decides to chuck surgery for his true passion, research, Ed is left without a career. One can only check her watch to see how long it takes for someone to require emergency surgery for a life-threatening injury and everyone to fall into line after that.

I found this book somewhat puzzling. On one hand, the writing seemed smart, occasionally amusing, and interesting. On the other, the book was overly long, the plot fairly obvious, and the story ultimately unsatisfying. It’s as if the author let us see that she was capable of delivering a stellar book but chose not to. That said, I have to suggest that, if Nurse Janice is calling, you consider whether or not you have any more promising options before you answer.

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