Is there a doctor in the house? Days of Probation, Louise Gerard (1917)

This was the first of my great grandmother’s romance novels that I was prompted to read. Preposterous plot aside (and it is, very) there is a most interesting depiction of nursing training in the early years of the 20th century. So much so, that on reading the book in the early twenties, my grandmother apparently decided that she wanted to be a nurse. I think she was off her trolley if she wanted to be a nurse having read this, or perhaps she thought all doctors were like the hero.

As the title suggests, the heroine of the story is a probationer nurse, and the novel starts soon after she begins her training. The depiction of the petty jealousies and rivalries between the probationers and those one or two steps up the ladder is well done. In fact it’s only when we get the addition of the romance plot that it falls down. Going by her description, she has knee length hair, can sing like an angel, has a marvellous character etc etc it’s clear our heroine is a bit of a Mary Sue. The hero, a masterful doctor, is similar to the hero in Life’s Shadow Show, but at least he’s not married, and doesn’t indulge in moral blackmail. He does decide that he loves the heroine, and once more, she has nothing to do except acquiesce.

The plot gets completely silly when one of the other nurses, jealous at our heroine’s popularity, recalls that she knows her name from somewhere. It turns out that, shock, horror, the heroine was the Other Woman in a big divorce case in India two years previously. While her name was naturally quite unjustifiably besmirched, she can no longer continue her training (nurses must be of good character after all) and flees.

But all ends happily when having rebuilt her life elsewhere, the hero finds her and ensures the world knows the Truth, restoring her good character and enabling him to marry a woman of good repute.

As a side note, according to Jay Dixon, this was Mills & Boon’s very first doctor/nurse romance.


One response to “Is there a doctor in the house? Days of Probation, Louise Gerard (1917)

  1. simon j paul mr

    I found this book in a black bin liner by the road side last week in woodford high street.(1927 5th addition)
    I am interested in the 1920,s & 30,s artdeco,so I thought that I might give it a read& see what the old girl Louise was up to

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