|Genre||Memoir (211 pp.)|
|Keywords||Caregivers, Death and Dying, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Grief, History of Medicine, Human Worth, Medical Ethics, Memory, Narrative as Method, Nursing, Pain, Patient Experience, Prayer as Medicine, Suffering, Suicide, Surgery, Trauma, War and Medicine|
By the author's own admission, this memoir is a collection of fragments taken from her memory of bits and pieces of her four year experience as a nurse in an evacuation hospital unit following the front lines up and down the European theatre during World War I. The work is fragmented because this experience was fragmented.
The first few chapters are dream-like descriptions of the men marching into battle and crawling back, or being carried back. The second collection of short vignettes dips--just a wee bit--into some of the individual soldiers' immediate stories. The latter segment of the book deals in more detail with the operations of the field hospital, some of its personnel, and some of the patients. Finally, the author treats the reader to a handful of poems, perhaps unnecessary, since the entire memoir is like one giant poem.
This collection of memories and images is powerful, heart-wrenching, and beautifully rendered. One travels intimately through the wards of the hospital, where the litters of the wounded and dying are lying head to foot, 60 stretchers in each of six rows--waiting for triage, for the operating room, for a hospital bed, for a grave. The Priests and Rabbis move quietly among the men, dressing bloody limbs, while they salve frightened souls.
The "old men," the local peasants who are too frail or too elderly to march and carry weapons, work side by side with the nurses and doctors to help their fellows. Everyone has one or two or three jobs--and everyone does his or her best to carry them out. Although blurred by memory, and to a certain degree, by the pain of recalling these horrors, the images are powerful, but kept by the writer from being disgusting. A fine read.
|Place Published||Garden City, N.J.|
|Annotated by||Willms, Janice L.|
|Date of Entry||12/20/00|