Back in the Girls Own niche this week, with one of my purchases from Book Conference and my first foray into the Cherry Ames series.
In case you didn’t guess from the title, Cherry is a nurse and each book in the series sees her taking on a different type of nursing job. The jacket of this one says it’s book six in the series, but it’s clear from reading it that it’s actually book 17, although the author situation is complicated (two different authors, across three periods and 25 years) so maybe we’ll let it off. I picked this up from the bargain box because I like boarding school books and I thought it might be a good way in to Cherry Ames, considering I never got into Sue Barton – who was her British nursing novel equivalent.
So our plot here is that Cherry has taken on a job as the resident nurse at a girls boarding school in Illinois. On her way to the school, she meets one of the other pupils, a new scholarship girl called Lisette who has a book she doesn’t want anyone to see the title of and a strange obsession with flowers and the school’s garden. Soon Cherry is trying to keep peace among the girls and ends up investigating a mystery with the strangely aloof Lisette. I don’t think any of you are going to read this, and the good reads summary gives it away any way so: Lisette is actually the headteacher’s niece, the school is in the former family mansion and Lisette has a diary written by their common relative which suggests that there is a valuable secret hidden somewhere in the school. The secret turns out to be the formula for a perfume, which Cherry, her new beau the local doctor and Lisette try to make to try and save the school which is struggling financially.
That’s a lot of bonkers isn’t it? And that’s before you mix in all the nursing that Cherry does, which includes but is not limited to: a broken arm, a preemie birth, a car crash and a student who makes herself ill to get out of doing exams. All in under 200 pages. It’s fast paced and kinda hilarious – it’s like Nancy Drew crossed with a nursing manual. And as a connoisseur of school stories, I can confirm that Cherry would not have lasted long at the Chalet School because she’s far too close to the students and not maintaining A Proper Distance! I had a hoot reading it, and it was worth every penny I paid for it. Which wasn’t many, because: bargain box, but you know what I mean.
If you want to try out any Cherry Ames, you’ll need to find a specialist book seller or try Abebooks.