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Publisher's Summary

A moving, lyrical, beautifully-written portrait of a nurse and the lives she has touched

Christie Watson spent 20 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.

©2018 Christie Watson (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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." (The New York Times Book Review

"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, London)

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • michael
  • NEWTON CENTER, MA, United States
  • 06-19-18

Story of kindness, story of Nursing in GB

There is very little memoirs in those memoirs; here and there the author tells some private information about her life (very intriguing, I wish there is more -- maybe the whole book...) but mostly this is story about nursing, about patience and the patients, about treatments, and about kindness. Very nicely, mature, and intelligently written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Erica
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • 09-07-18

Nurses Love

thanks to Christie Watson for sharing her stories. The depth and diversity of nurses' work is not to be underestimated, and the importance of the work they do--helping us when we're vulnerable--is well-described here. A very worthwhile read.

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    2 out of 5 stars

Narrated way too fast

Being a clinician, I was drawn to this story. It is, however, written in terms that can be easily understood by a layperson. What cannot be understood is the fast pace at which the author reads her own words. I checked the speed on my settings thinking it was inadvertently dialed up. In particular, when she recites lists, which is often, the words run together to be indecipherable.
Also, the author frequently skips ahead and back in time, as well as medical specialities, which makes the anecdotal lines hard to follow.
She does make cognizant points about empathy in nursing and draws attention to strained resources and the UK’s failing health care system. Some possible solutions or changes would have been welcomed, especially coming from an experienced insider such as this writer

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  • Orit Daly
  • Croton on Hudson, NY, United States
  • 07-31-18

amazing!!

a beautifully written, beautifully told memoir of life as a nurse in Central London. It showed empathy and love to all of us.