This is a debut novel by Caroline Rance inspired by her research into eighteenth century medicine while reading English and History at Keele university. Chester 1756: Mary Helsall starts a job as a nurse entering a world of stench and sickness where her caring duties are at odds with her impatient nature. She seeks solace in gin and a volatile relationship with hospital porter Anthony. But when a diseased beggar arrives for treatment, it becomes clear that he knows Mary has a lot to hide.From the bleak Wirral shore, to the screams of the operating theatre, and from a backstreet gin shop to the dungeons of the gaol, Mary searches for the hope of an independent future. First, though, she must fight the attraction of oblivion and make a choice between duty, money and a love overshadowed by addiction. An historical novel full of alcohol, gruesome diseases, surgery, smuggling, prison dungeons and general grimness. Florence Nightingale it ain't!! This, in a way, is one of its strengths i.e. it portrays nurses as individual women rather than caricatures. It wil appeal to book groups as there are plenty of issues for discussion. Its topical theme of women and alcohol links the 18th century with today.