If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar
But here we are, day in, day out with our patients, their families; we see it all. Nurses are like hospital furniture. Everyone else constantly moves, the Ists get promoted, patients go home or die but we stay, steadfast, waiting to be sat on, leant on, perhaps kicked about a bit.
Alice is a compassionate nurse and unit manager in Ward 9B, a small High Dependency Unit at St. Catherine’s Hospital. Patients there hover between life and death.
One of her patients, Frank Ashcroft, has been on her ward for two months which is unusual for someone in his state. He had a brain stem stroke leading to a coma and Dr. Sharma wants to move him to a morgue waiting room to let him die, but Alice is optimistic that Frank can hear her during their long one-sided talks. Frank is a good listener who doesn’t judge while she chats about her husband, David, and her many devastating miscarriages. All she wants to be is a good wife and mother, and when a young, pregnant female coma patient, Cassie, is admitted to her ward, she has hope that if a baby can survive in a coma patient, then maybe one could survive in her. But, someone wants to harm Cassie, and Alice will protect her and the baby at all costs.
Frank is stuck in a body that won’t move. He sees and hears everything, but he can’t even raise a hand or roll over. Only Alice, sweet, wonderful Alice, believes in him. Even his own estranged daughter stopped visiting him. Who can blame her? He wasn’t there for her when she needed him.
I imagine it must seem that I sleep like the dead, but I’m just like everyone else; I have to be comfortable, which, most of the time, I’m not. I can’t shift blankets if I’m too hot, or yell at the other patients to shut the hell up.
As he watches activity around the new patient, Cassie, he wonders what secrets surround her and her family. Who would want to harm a young wife and mother who appears to have a loving husband and mother-in-law? If only they knew what disturbing secrets Frank sees and hears.
Cassie has a loving husband, Jack, and a doting mother-in-law, Charlotte, who are her life line after the death of her mother, but Jack has become distant and Charlotte is worried about Cassie spending so much time with her neighbor, Jonny. Why was she running away that night of the hit and run, and who would deliberately try to run her down and leave her there to die?
Ms. Elgar’s first novel is three stories in one told by a nurse, a man who cannot speak and a woman in a coma. It is a unique plot because all of them have unpredictable futures, and they are all tied together by a dangerous secret with an unpleasant ending. If you like a character-driven, nail-biting mystery, you’ll enjoy this one-of-kind novel.
Thank you to Ms. Elgar and Above the Treeline for giving me the opportunity to review this book!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from the Cotswolds, Emily Elgar studied at Edinburgh University and went on to complete the novel writing course at the Faber Academy in 2014. She currently lives in East Sussex with her husband. If You Knew Her is her first novel.