Cover image for Call the nurse : true stories of a country nurse on a Scottish isle
Call the nurse : true stories of a country nurse on a Scottish isle
MacLeod, Mary J.
Personal Author:
1st North American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub., [2013]

Physical Description:
320 pages ; 22 cm
The author recalls her time living and working as a nurse on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RT37.M195 A3 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
RT37.M195 A3 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
RT37.M195 A3 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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*A Wall Street Journal Bestseller*

Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod (known to all as Julia) and her husband encountered their dream while vacationing on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Enthralled by its windswept beauty, they soon were the proud owners of a near-derelict croft house--a farmer's stone cottage--on "a small acre" of land. Mary assumed duties as the island's district nurse. Call the Nurse is her account of the first enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.

Gaelic fortitude meets a nurse's compassion in these wonderful true stories from rural Scotland. The remarkable debut of an author now in her eighties, Call the Nurse is a treasure of sweet nostalgia.

Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Author Notes

Mary J. MacLeod qualified as a nurse in England and has lived in Aden (now Yemen), the United States, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia as well as her husband George's native Scotland. She is now the author of three books and lives in Ascot in Berkshire, England.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Being a nurse can be challenging at the best of times, but being a nurse on a remote Scottish island is something else altogether. In this charming memoir, MacLeod recounts her adventures as a nurse in the Hebrides in the 1970s. With MacLeod as a trusty guide, readers are welcomed into the island inhabitants' crofts with their smoky peat fires. The book feels like a letter from a friend who has an eye for travel writing (despite employing cliched phrases like Little did I know and overusing exclamation points). With a nurse's no-nonsense manner, MacLeod relays tales of adventure, finding humor and humanity in her experiences but rarely revealing more of herself than necessary. She ably describes the quirks and generosity of the islanders as they face a series of emergencies and celebrate happy occasions. Instead of an overall narrative, this book reads, as the introduction attests, more like looking through a photo album, with a gloss of nostalgia that readers will enjoy. For James Herriot fans, without the animals.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Exotic travelogue meets medical adventure in this nostalgic autobiography of an English nurse who left London to embrace the remote Scottish Hebridean island of Papavray. In 1969, the now-octogenarian MacLeod became the isles' medical lifeline, falling in love with its quirky populous and vanishing way of life. Her debut recounts an abundance of local charm and lore, including the sloppy celebration of Hogmanay, to sweetly daft Celtic logic, to brushes with local ghosts. But the stories of gut-wrenching medical and human need are the most evocative. In one case, a 13-year-old girl becomes pregnant through incest and then inexplicably risks her baby's life to reunite with the dad; in another, a 36-year-old woman is found chained and filthy in her family home, abused for over a decade for having an out-of-wedlock baby. Elsewhere, a man beaten by a drunken dad and who lost a beloved wife and son in a shooting ends his days sick with cancer, alone, bitter and "resolved never to love anyone or trust another soul as long as he lived." MacLeod is generously non-judgmental, believing that the wild, rugged islands "are full of odd, reclusive families. Usually it's all right. Just different." (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The beauty and mystique of Scotland's remote Western Isles-the Hebrides-beckon to visitors from near and far. One can only imagine the degree of isolation felt there in the early 1970s before modern advances in communication. Such was the time when MacLeod and her family moved from the London area to the Hebridean island of Papavray in pursuit of a simpler lifestyle. In her capacity as district nurse, MacLeod experienced firsthand how geographical separation has affected the lives of the local people. While delighting in the pastoral innocence that is common among her patients and neighbors, MacLeod learns that tragedy, in various degrees, is always close at hand. She describes how a pervasive sense of community and confidence in humanity saw the locals through many adverse circumstances. VERDICT In her first book, MacLeod proves to be an engaging narrative writer who uses humor and vernacular to her advantage. This account should be of interest not only to medical professionals but to all readers who want to escape to a slower way of life.-Chad Clark, Lamar State Coll. Lib., Port Arthur, TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.