Book Club 2022-2023

January 2023

The Nurse by Claire Allan – review

This is a heavy, dark book featuring a misogynist incel getting his kicks out on scaring women by creeping up behind them, protesting innocence when confronted by the petrified female, all while videoing their terrified reaction.

He is part of a group of ‘incels’, (involuntary celibate males) who feel the need to punish women for lack of “respect” for men, believing their superiority is under threat. This is relevant in the current ‘metoo’ climate today. The dark web features heavily with graphic descriptions of male
inhumanity to females and we all understandably found this unnerving and appalling. The fact that there is truth in the existence of this world is most alarming and definitely needs to be discussed and highlighted.

A nurse named Nell disappears. Then we learn a third of the way into the book that she has been kidnapped, and is being held in a room, leg chained, frequently starving, alone. Nell’s mother, Marion, while understandably distraught, does nothing helpful or active in) trying to find Nell. She cries, pops pills, and bemoans her lot, being married to Stephen for over twenty years and her hard life with him. She slows down the pace. We all felt too much time was given to her over 20 out of the 43 chapters – and most of us found it difficult to empathise with her.

Nell herself in captivity is a strong character, keeping her wits about her while remembering her captor’s ‘rules’ at all times in his presence, unlike her friend who disobeyed him and was murdered. She even imagines to escape more or less unaided and make it home.

We all noticed how ineffective the other female characters were. Heather, the social worker was only good for making tea and patting on shoulders. Clodagh, the ‘best friend’ could only cry, and D.S King didn’t appear very organised.

The book title seemed a misnomer too, having no actual bearing on the plot or setting.

Overall, a scary book; thought provoking but disturbing, it made for a lively discussion on many aspects: dating, would you give the book to someone else female or young and so on.

Score: Eight people read the book; average score being four marks out of five.

Valerie Lynch Kelly