#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • A moving, lyrical, beautifully-written portrait of a nurse and the lives she has touched
Christie Watson spent twenty years as a nurse, and in this intimate, poignant, and remarkably powerful book, she opens the doors of the hospital and shares its secrets. She takes us by her side down hospital corridors to visit the wards and meet her unforgettable patients.
In the neonatal unit, premature babies fight for their lives, hovering at the very edge of survival, like tiny Emmanuel, wrapped up in a sandwich bag. On the cancer wards, the nurses administer chemotherapy and, long after the medicine stops working, something more important--which Watson learns to recognize when her own father is dying of cancer. In the pediatric intensive care unit, the nurses wash the hair of a little girl to remove the smell of smoke from the house fire. The emergency room is overcrowded as ever, with waves of alcohol and drug addicted patients as well as patients like Betty, a widow suffering chest pain, frail and alone. And the stories of the geriatric ward--Gladys and older patients like her--show the plight of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Through the smallest of actions, nurses provide vital care and kindness. All of us will experience illness in our lifetime, and we will all depend on the support and dignity that nurses offer us; yet the women and men who form the vanguard of our health care remain unsung. In this age of fear, hate, and division, Christie Watson has written a book that reminds us of all that we share, and of the urgency of compassion.
About the Author
Christie Watson was a registered nurse for twenty years before writing full time. Her first novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was also published to international critical acclaim. Her works have been translated to eighteen languages. She lives in London.
Named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The Guardian and The Sunday Times
“With grit and wisdom, this memoir of life as a nurse encompasses birth, death, and the unpredictable workings of minds and bodies in between. . . . Watson, who worked in British hospitals for twenty years before becoming a novelist, recounts the crises, triumphs, and uncertainties inherent in nursing others.” —The New Yorker
“I challenge anyone to get through all 336 pages without weeping. . . . Expect Watson’s stories of patients like Tommy and Katie to linger with you many days after the final chapter.” —The Sunday Times
“Powerful. . . . An absorbing, all-seeing tour through the doors of the hospital.” —Molly Case, The Observer
“Christie Watson is a lovely writer—and, judging from this book, a gifted nurse." —The New York Times
“Tender and beautifully written. . . . A love letter to a profession whose values are threatened.” —The Daily Telegraph
"Christie Watson is an inspiration. This book is breath-taking." —Emilia Clarke
“This brilliant, life-changing book has to be experienced. . . . More than a memoir, The Language of Kindness exerts the power of a gripping novel.” —The Irish Times
"There is so much love in this book that it makes the tears bearable. Christie Watson has written a beautiful and lyrical account of the true meaning of a nurse's life." —Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
“Many doctors have been distinguished writers. . . .But we haven’t heard enough from nurses, whose world is just as arcane and important. . . .The Language of Kindness could not be more compelling or more welcome: It’s about how we survive, and about the people who help us do so.” —Roxana Robinson, The New York Times Book Review
"Moving, eloquent, funny, inspiring—an urgent book for our times." —Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Café
“The Language of Kindnesshas thoroughly resuscitated my faith in the genre. . . . It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh. It encouraged me to appreciate this most underappreciated of professions more than ever.” —Adam Kay,The Guardian
“If it’s taken a very long time to get a memoir written by a nurse, then it was certainly worth the wait. I have rarely read anything that has moved me as much. . . . In both her nursing and her writing Watson achieves what we might call a state of grace. . . . An important guide to what a healthy society should value.” —Allison Pearson, The Sunday Telegraph
“This book is a timely reminder that in addition to the ever- increasing demands on nurses as medical professionals, they also have 'soul skills': dignity, peace, compassion, humanity. After reading this book, you’ll feel there is no more awe-inspiring display of kindness than to be a nurse.” —Spirituality & Health
“A wise and tender book, by turns fierce, compassionate, and revelatory. It shows the joys and the difficulties of looking after people at their most vulnerable, and makes an urgent plea: as a society we have to care better for the nurses who care for us.” —Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being
“This beautiful memoir—tender, informative, unflinching, every sentence filled with compassion, has reminded me that when I have felt most alone I am of course not alone at all.” —Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry