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Not Your Average Nurse: From 1970s London to Outback Australia, the True Story of an Unlikely Girl and an Extraordinary Career

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To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim. We follow Maggie's highs and lows as she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia. From the watchful gaze of ste To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim. We follow Maggie's highs and lows as she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia. From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.


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To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim. We follow Maggie's highs and lows as she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia. From the watchful gaze of ste To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London's King's College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It's sink or swim. We follow Maggie's highs and lows as she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia. From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

30 review for Not Your Average Nurse: From 1970s London to Outback Australia, the True Story of an Unlikely Girl and an Extraordinary Career

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Park

    4.5 stars. Review part of blogtour. This review can also be found at: https://overtherainbowbookblog.wordpr... Maggie is 17 when she decides to abandon her A-levels and pursue a career in nursing. Moving to London Maggie soon falls in love with the city, and after making new friends enjoys the social life the city offers. Although initially finding nursing difficult, Maggie works hard and, despite her tutors reservations, passes her nursing exams. Not Your Average Nurse follows Maggie through her 4.5 stars. Review part of blogtour. This review can also be found at: https://overtherainbowbookblog.wordpr... Maggie is 17 when she decides to abandon her A-levels and pursue a career in nursing. Moving to London Maggie soon falls in love with the city, and after making new friends enjoys the social life the city offers. Although initially finding nursing difficult, Maggie works hard and, despite her tutors reservations, passes her nursing exams. Not Your Average Nurse follows Maggie through her nursing training and career as she lives and loves, nurses in a variety of places and finds a true passion for nursing. Any student nurse is a fascinating, enjoyable but sometimes poignant glimpse into nursing and life in 1970's London. Firstly I loved Maggie. She is such a strong, confident lady who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and others when needed. I really enjoyed reading about her exploits with her friends and colleagues. It was very funny to hear what they got up to both at work and in their spare time. I wanted to be a part of their group enjoying the social life in London with them. It was very educational for me to learn about the differences between nursing then compared with nursing now. With a lot of modern techniques and treatment not available, nursing then seemed quite primitive. It was fascinating to find out how things were done then. It was also interesting to discover more about how nurses and women were viewed then. There seemed to be a lot of sexism towards women stil. The poor pay, hours and working conditions were attributed to the fact that nursing was mainly a female career. It was great to read about Maggie and her colleagues attempt to fight against this. To me the most enlightening part of the book was learning more about the different types of nursing available, outside of a hospital. Who knew there was a thing called Industrial nursing, that involved nurses working in shops or theatres and that a nurse might be needed in a convent. I certainly didn't! The tales of some of the patients Maggie nursed throughout the years were quite poignant. Learning how their experiences during the war had caused their current condition was heart breaking at times. As was her accounts of how illnesses caused by living conditions which couldn't always be helped. It was lovely to hear how the NHS helped treat such people back then. There was such warmth and compassion shown to them, which was lovely to read about and probably wouldn't happen now. This is not Maggie Groff's first book but it is the first book of hers that I have read. I will definitely be going back and reading some more of her work as I enjoyed this one very much. Huge thanks to Rosie Margesson and Transworld publisher s for providing me with a copy of this book. If you enjoyed the Call The Midwife books you'll love this one!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    When I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for Maggie Groff’s Not Your Average Nurse, I was slightly hesitant. I don’t normally read memoirs, autobiographies, true stories, whatever they’re called. I tend to find them stuffy or some kind of promotional tool for those who think they’ve accomplished I-don’t-know-what when really, most of the time they are just lucky to have been born pretty. However, in the spirit of this whole broadening my horizon journey I’ve embarked on, I quite happi When I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for Maggie Groff’s Not Your Average Nurse, I was slightly hesitant. I don’t normally read memoirs, autobiographies, true stories, whatever they’re called. I tend to find them stuffy or some kind of promotional tool for those who think they’ve accomplished I-don’t-know-what when really, most of the time they are just lucky to have been born pretty. However, in the spirit of this whole broadening my horizon journey I’ve embarked on, I quite happily agreed to read this true story of a student nurse in the 1970’s. And when the very first page already made me chuckle, I felt confident I had made the right decision. Not Your Average Nurse is a realistic account of life in the 70’s. A time when a woman lost her job when she got married because having a husband and children was still supposed to be her only ambition in life. But Maggie wanted something else completely and set off to London to train to become a nurse. Of course things don’t always go exactly how she wants them to and it’s not all roses and sunshine. But her decision would take her to numerous places around the world and enable her to have a very fulfilling career. This story has a little bit of everything. Great friendships, finding love and losing it, celebrity encounters, plenty of chuckles but it also highlights the plight of the poor, the elderly and even the Aboriginals. Maggie’s travels take her from England to Switzerland to Australia, constantly needing to adjust to new ways of doing things. Don’t be put off by the title if you’re of the squeamish sort, by the way. There’s really none of that here. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s recollections about her training days at King’s College Hospital and I found this true story to be a fascinating and entertaining read. Maggie is an excellent and witty storyteller and I would definitely recommend this book, if only to see how different things were back in the day, as a woman and a nurse. Many thanks to Rosie Margesson and Transworld Books for my advanced copy and inviting me on the blog tour!

  3. 4 out of 5

    The Book Review Café

    I’m not a huge fan of biographies but I found Not Your average Nurse to be an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable read. The author Maggie Groff enrolled as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital in the 1970’s, rebellious from the start, you can’t help wondering if the authors choose the right career, it was obvious from the opening chapter she hadn’t put much thought into her career choice and it’s not long before the long hours, regulations and the constant cleaning make the author I’m not a huge fan of biographies but I found Not Your average Nurse to be an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable read. The author Maggie Groff enrolled as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital in the 1970’s, rebellious from the start, you can’t help wondering if the authors choose the right career, it was obvious from the opening chapter she hadn’t put much thought into her career choice and it’s not long before the long hours, regulations and the constant cleaning make the author question whether she has made the right decision. Set against an NHS where order and authority prevailed, the author portrays the difficulties of being a student nurse in the 1970’s. Did you know? even as late as the 1970’s you weren’t allowed to train as a student nurse if you were married! So it was interesting to read how entrenched reviews and practices have changed over the years. Maggie Groff writes with humour and compassion that draw you into the life a student nurse in the 1970’s, despite the hard work, the heartbreak the author also shares her humorous memories, the parties, breaking the rules, and living the student life in London which made for a captivating read. The author shares her fears and heartbreak, her joys and frustrations, and her memories of the patients she cared for. I couldn’t help but smile as she described some scenes as it reminded me very much of my own introduction to nursing. I did have a small niggle with this book as a student, the author complained about the low pay (which it was) but still managed to holiday in Ibiza and shop at Habitat. I’m sure this wasn’t the case for most of the student nurses during this era, as many struggled to live day to day on their low wages, after they had paid for lodgings, laundry and food, but that’s only my opinion and no way distracted from an entertaining read. Not Your Average Nurse is a honest and candid autobiography that brings the caring vocation of nursing in the 1970’s vividly back to life. Played out against the march of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the iconic music and movies of almost half a century ago. This book won’t be for everyone but if you enjoy reading memoirs and books of this theme then this might just be the book for you, both my parents read it and throughly enjoyed the trip down memory

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Esots

    I related to so much of this memoir of a nursing life. From the draconian slave labour 'training' of a student nurse. The dragon like matrons and theatre sisters on power play overdrive. Maggie Groff (Johnson) has an engaging style and is able to distill information into a few lines. Her life has been vastly different to mine. But the sisterhood of nursing is what binds us. She has managed to find a variety of different nursing roles that suited her. From Selfridges, a nun's home, the Savoy hotel, the I related to so much of this memoir of a nursing life. From the draconian slave labour 'training' of a student nurse. The dragon like matrons and theatre sisters on power play overdrive. Maggie Groff (Johnson) has an engaging style and is able to distill information into a few lines. Her life has been vastly different to mine. But the sisterhood of nursing is what binds us. She has managed to find a variety of different nursing roles that suited her. From Selfridges, a nun's home, the Savoy hotel, the Sydney Opera House, Switzerland, a Whitsunday resort and outback Australia. That is the great thing about nursing, the diversity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Toni Huggins

    I absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story of a beautiful soul. I particularly loved learning about life in London in the 70's through the author's eyes. Maggie Groff's telling of memories of her time nursing made me laugh out loud one minute and then cry like baby the next. I am a nurse too and thoroughly recommend this book to those who nurse and those who want a good page turner. I absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story of a beautiful soul. I particularly loved learning about life in London in the 70's through the author's eyes. Maggie Groff's telling of memories of her time nursing made me laugh out loud one minute and then cry like baby the next. I am a nurse too and thoroughly recommend this book to those who nurse and those who want a good page turner.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Groff’s memoir focuses nursing career, a career that gives her the opportunity to work around the world. Adventurous, Groff uses the opportunities and takes on many different positions in different countries. I enjoyed the changes in medical treatments and the feminist perspective. Milte’s voice is very easy to listen to and she does different accents with apparent ease.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    What an interesting life Maggie has led! I loved reading about her nursing life - it reminded me of my own - even though we were in totally different decades. (For which I am grateful!) I love how she's written this for her child - what a treasure it must be. What an interesting life Maggie has led! I loved reading about her nursing life - it reminded me of my own - even though we were in totally different decades. (For which I am grateful!) I love how she's written this for her child - what a treasure it must be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    New to me author. This was a great story of Maggie’s early life. I listened to the audiobook.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This gives an insight into one nurses professional and personal life during the 70s and 80s. I thought it would have more details written throughout. Its an easy read but not for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn't expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read. Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn't expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read. Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life at the same time. While I don't think I could handle the night duty and the emergencies, I'm totally jealous. I was quite close to looking into a nursing career while reading! But I think what this memoir really shows is what you can do with a strong attitude and determination. Maggie Groff knew what she wanted and she did it, be it quitting an underpaying job or flying out to live across the globe all alone. The comparison to Call the Midwife has to be made because they're both memoirs about UK based nursing in the past, although set 20 years apart. I get the same comforting feeling I get from the books, and the slightly-less-so-but-still-there judgement of women by their appearance, but Maggie Groff has had a much more varied career. If you liked one, I think you'd like the other. One thing I did raise my eyebrows a little at the one racist paragraph, where she tells the reader about a rumour implying the Chinese nurses were eating ducks from the park; "I never believed the rumour, especially as I had started it." It was obviously the 1970s and we all say things when we're young, but this was never addressed again which is unfortunate. Overall though, this is what it says on the cover, an entertaining true story of a student nurse in 1970s London. And so much more. Prepare to see the effects of Feminism in nursing, a family lose a mother to cancer and a great balance of a polished story and the raw real-life events. Review originally posted on Imogen’s Typewriter.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Lacey

    I always have the attitude that I try not to judge a book by its cover. But when I saw the title included ‘Nurse’ I was a little nervous. I am not a fan of medical dramas on tv. I am squeamish so I was worried. I shouldn’t have been. Maggie Groff writes in such a comfortable style. I was happily shocked that the book was so funny. With one-liners that had me laughing out loud. My favourite quote from the book is on page one ‘The god of bright young things has always had a custard tart ready to s I always have the attitude that I try not to judge a book by its cover. But when I saw the title included ‘Nurse’ I was a little nervous. I am not a fan of medical dramas on tv. I am squeamish so I was worried. I shouldn’t have been. Maggie Groff writes in such a comfortable style. I was happily shocked that the book was so funny. With one-liners that had me laughing out loud. My favourite quote from the book is on page one ‘The god of bright young things has always had a custard tart ready to smack in the face of a girl like me’. My favourite quote from the book is on page one ‘The god of bright young things has always had a custard tart ready to smack in the face of a girl like me’. The only thing I didn’t love about the book was the cover and somewhat the title, I don’t feel either connects with the book. I found the cover very bland. It’s not something I would pick up in a store. Which is a shame as the content is such a fun, emotional journey. Maggie Groff is a super storyteller. I fell in love with Margaret in the book. I loved her attitude and I hated the hard life lessons she had to experience. The book is a memoir of Maggie’s life, which she was inspired to write for her daughter. Who had no knowledge of her mums working life before she became an author. What a fabulous gift to give your daughter! Wow!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann-maree

    To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff defies her parents’ wishes and embarks as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital, she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It’s sink or swim. In this delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie’s highs and lows as s To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff defies her parents’ wishes and embarks as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital, she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It’s sink or swim. In this delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie’s highs and lows as she struggles with stern ward sisters and wilful patients, and eventually qualifies as a registered nurse and sets sail for Australia. From nursing at a poor London housing estate and working as an in-house nurse at glamorous Selfridges to treating injuries on the Great Barrier Reef and becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that made it all worthwhile.

  13. 5 out of 5

    SarahBubbalooStitch

    I listened to the audiobook & I adored it. As someone who has experience in healthcare & nursing, this was an incredibly relatable account. It’s quite shocking how the similar the issues were in the 1970’s to now in the 2010’s! With such diverse experience in many countries & a fascinating love of life, Maggie is in such a great place to tell her stories with honesty, candour & passion. Starting in London, she sheds light on being a student nurse & it’s many ups and downs & then continues her st I listened to the audiobook & I adored it. As someone who has experience in healthcare & nursing, this was an incredibly relatable account. It’s quite shocking how the similar the issues were in the 1970’s to now in the 2010’s! With such diverse experience in many countries & a fascinating love of life, Maggie is in such a great place to tell her stories with honesty, candour & passion. Starting in London, she sheds light on being a student nurse & it’s many ups and downs & then continues her story in more exotic locations, while including personal challenges she has faced along the way. I highly recommend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Novelle Novels

    4 out of 5 stars This is a lovely memoir of Maggie who begins her nursing career in the early 1970’s in London. She is such a strong and funny lady and it’s so enjoyable to see her grow through this book. She starts of as a young lady who almost falls into nursing and stands up to herself when she feels like she isn’t like many nurses in training treated fairly. I love those tales of her fighting back.. She has personal traumas like so many of us and you really feel for her. The tales of her frie 4 out of 5 stars This is a lovely memoir of Maggie who begins her nursing career in the early 1970’s in London. She is such a strong and funny lady and it’s so enjoyable to see her grow through this book. She starts of as a young lady who almost falls into nursing and stands up to herself when she feels like she isn’t like many nurses in training treated fairly. I love those tales of her fighting back.. She has personal traumas like so many of us and you really feel for her. The tales of her friends and comrades made me giggle and the sad tales make you feel emotional.. Once qualified she goes off on different adventures which is so exciting. Such a lovly memoir

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Really enjoyed reading Maggie's descriptions of her early years training to be a nurse in the English public health system. Sometimes rewarding, and at others extremely frustrating, the daily hardships and joys are beautifully portrayed as Maggie single mindedly negotiates the hazards of providing health care. Showing great warmth and humour, her experiences unfold, leading to an unorthodox career in unexpected locations. Actually, this book is quite inspirational. Really enjoyed reading Maggie's descriptions of her early years training to be a nurse in the English public health system. Sometimes rewarding, and at others extremely frustrating, the daily hardships and joys are beautifully portrayed as Maggie single mindedly negotiates the hazards of providing health care. Showing great warmth and humour, her experiences unfold, leading to an unorthodox career in unexpected locations. Actually, this book is quite inspirational.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Maree Foster

    What a fabulous recall of a nursing adventure. From the 1970s in London to Australian shores of recent times Groff shares the highs and lows of her varied nursing placements which further highlights the variety of work nurses can enjoy around the world. My favourite of times whilst reading this was the feminist changes in nursing and improved conditions nurses fought hard for not only for themselves but for improved patient outcomes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Voirrey

    As Maggie Goff was finishing her SRN training at Kings, I was about to begin mine at the RVI in Newcastle - and oh how her descriptions of training brought back so many memories, and matched my own in so many places - even to the loss of a close family member as finals approached. Although we took rather different path after qualifying, I found myself nodding along, laughing out loud, and remembering so many patients, and the occasional ward sister, who were just like some of hers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    More than entertainment A superbly written, insightful account, both entertaining and informative with some truly moving reflections and character portraits. All I can say is thank you to Maggie for a great read and for what she and others of her profession have given. Please read this book. It's way more than entertaining! More than entertainment A superbly written, insightful account, both entertaining and informative with some truly moving reflections and character portraits. All I can say is thank you to Maggie for a great read and for what she and others of her profession have given. Please read this book. It's way more than entertaining!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gil Cooper

    This was a fantastic read!! I am a RN and could relate to quite a bit of Maggie's experiences but then there were those that only she could have. Always fun and actually hysterical at times. I will continue to read everything Maggie writes as she surely has a way with words. This was a fantastic read!! I am a RN and could relate to quite a bit of Maggie's experiences but then there were those that only she could have. Always fun and actually hysterical at times. I will continue to read everything Maggie writes as she surely has a way with words.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alayne

    A fascinating look at the life of a nurse in the 70s and 80s, this was well written and very entertaining. Maggie Groff sounds like a real character and I thoroughly enjoyed her story. I have learned that she has written other books, so I will be following them up.

  21. 5 out of 5

    lindsey simmons

    Fab A wonderfully fab in-site into the different challenges met by a young nurse training around the entire world. Contains some funny n also heartbreaking moments. Would recommend to any avid reader of nursing type stories

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ellesse

    This book was a wow for me, I've been reading nursing books but recent ones not ones from the past. The book starts at the beginning of Maggies training as a nurse rather than much earlier in her life which was a bonus - it also ended when her nursing career did another real plus, too many others give us their whole life when we really want to have a nosey at their career. Maggie’s career started in the 1970s in London at King’s but she certainly didn’t stay there! The different kinds of work sh This book was a wow for me, I've been reading nursing books but recent ones not ones from the past. The book starts at the beginning of Maggies training as a nurse rather than much earlier in her life which was a bonus - it also ended when her nursing career did another real plus, too many others give us their whole life when we really want to have a nosey at their career. Maggie’s career started in the 1970s in London at King’s but she certainly didn’t stay there! The different kinds of work she does is amazing, she starts in a normal hospital but nurses in shops, the Sydney opera house and even a convent to name a few! I love how free-spirited she is, the bravery it takes to up sticks to everywhere and anywhere that she fancied going - landing finally in Australia. The book is definitely one to pick up, I can’t praise it enough!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    A Fantastic true story of how the NHS used to be. It makes you realise how far they have come .

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    An interesting read, especially as my nurse training commenced in 1970 also, although here in Australia.

  25. 5 out of 5

    michelle reilly

    What a laugh I loved this book. Being a nurse myself I can relate to Maggie's sense of humour. A thoroughly great read. What a laugh I loved this book. Being a nurse myself I can relate to Maggie's sense of humour. A thoroughly great read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Johnston

    This book turned out to be far more entertaining tan I expected. Maggie's memoirs are so well told that it didn't feel like an autobiography - easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. This book turned out to be far more entertaining tan I expected. Maggie's memoirs are so well told that it didn't feel like an autobiography - easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Olwen

    Loved this fun read. What an amazing career!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Corinna Mudford burrows

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very easy to read and so interesting

  29. 4 out of 5

    CLAIR Withers

    Fab book really enjoyed reading this. Well written gives you an insight into nursing in the seventies & eighties.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angela Walker

    Thoroughly good read I chose this rating because it was a book which couldn't be put down. It is beautifully written, humerous and informative all at once. Thoroughly good read I chose this rating because it was a book which couldn't be put down. It is beautifully written, humerous and informative all at once.

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