It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp."
Once again Dunlap entices readers with her dramatic historical settings. This time we travel to the war-torn fields of Turkey with Florence Nightingale, “the lady of the lamp”. Dunlap is one of my favorite historical fiction writers because I think teens who don’t normally read this genre will enjoy her books. Dunlap has a flair for the dramatic so expect an ending that will leave you hanging on the final page.
With the setting by far the strongest part of In the Shadow of the Lamp, Dunlap allows readers to venture into the hospital hallways and sickbeds where wounded soldiers are treated. The details of nursing duties and doctors are greatly outlined. However, the plot tipped on the weaker side toward the middle of the book. At times it seemed as if some things happened a bit too conveniently and it was definitely the “romantic” interest that moved the story along. While the characters are fairly well-developed, I felt like I didn’t quite understand Molly all the time, as if some of her thoughts and intentions were not quite clear.
With that being said, In the Shadow of the Lamp is still a nice novel especially if you are a fan of Dunlap’s. Compared to her first books, The Musician’s Daughter is still my favorite. The ending of In the Shadow of the Lamp is by far the best part of the whole book–loved it! Despite having some weakness in plot, Dunlap did create a vivid scene of a past history and executed it with adventure and a touching message. Can’t wait for her next book.
Recommendation: Highly recommend especially if you’ve enjoyed The Musician’s Daughter and Anastasia’s Secret. Great historical fiction novel for teens and has a good chance of holding interest for those who don’t normally read h.f. Ages 14+
Content: Descriptions of blood/surgery, some sensuality, references to prostitution (PG)|Pages: 293|Release Date: April 12, 2011|Publisher: Bloomsbury|
|Genre: Historical fiction, war, 1800s|
This review is copyrighted © by Books and Literature for Teens. Special thanks to Kate.