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The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story Reviews

The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson

The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story

Christie Watson

4.23 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 3 May 2018
ISBN: 9781784741976

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*A Guardian, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and New Statesman Book of the Year 2018*BBC Radio 4 Book of the WeekAn astonishing memoir about nursing and an urgent call for compassion and kindness `It made me cry.

1 Prize for The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story

The British Book Awards
2019 Shortlist: Non-fiction Narrative Book of the Year

Alice O’Keeffe, Books Editor at The Bookseller, said: “Our shortlists this year took the judges from Georgian London to the Second World War to contemporary New York. There are books from exciting fresh voices at the very start of their career, contrasted with books from with well-established brand authors at the top of their game. These are the books that sum up 2018 but which, we think, will be read for years to come.”


  • The Sunday TimesBooks of the Year
5 stars out of 5
Helen Davies
2 Dec 2018

"a deeply compassionate book "

After 20 years as a nurse working on the NHS front line, Christie Watson has survived, battle-scarred and wise, to produce a beautifully rendered memoir of her own life and those whose lives were often held in her hands. It is a deeply compassionate book that recounts her experiences behind hospital doors, from the heartbreak of stillbirths to the giggles of children. It will leave you weeping as well as hopeful.

5 stars out of 5
Robbie Millen
23 Nov 2018

"a powerful insight into the life of nurses"

There have been plenty of books by doctors about the state of the NHS, but The Language of Kindness gives a different perspective — a powerful insight into the life of nurses. Christie Watson, a nurse turned novelist, gives us a peek into maternity wards, paediatric care units and geriatric wards, mixing personal anecdote with medical fact and philosophy. It’s full of touching vignettes of kindness, such as nurses washing a girl’s hair to remove the stink of smoke from a house fire — or Watson reading out the racing results to a man on the cancer ward.

  • The GuardianBook of the Year
3 stars out of 5
Adam Kay
26 Apr 2018

"There are laughter and tears in this remarkable account that immerses the reader in their world"

The Language of Kindness tries to be rather more than a memoir – there are significant sections on the history of nursing, of detailed medical explanation, of scholarly writing about the carer. These sections, while well researched and for the most part interesting, don’t quite succeed like the rest of the book and, at times, make for a slightly disjointed read. The jumps from chapter to chapter add to this feeling. It’s not a perfect book, and ends too abruptly. The sometimes matter-of-fact telling of heartbreaking stories can give it a feeling of emotional disconnection. But it still seems very important.