Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Review: Bayou Nurse

Bayou Nurse Bayou Nurse by Peggy Gaddis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of Peggy Gaddis' later novels first published in hardcover in 1964 by Arcadia for the library market and it recycles numerous themes from her earlier novels. Nurse Lindsay puts her hospital career on hold to return to the bayou to care for her ailing Aunt Jennifer who had—spitefully—raised her after Lindsay's parents were killed in a fishing boat accident. Lindsay is the typical sassy Gaddis protagonist readers want to root for, but it is mean Aunt Jennifer, wheelchair confined and using her words like a cattle-prod, who steals every scene she is in. The verbal jousting between Lindsay and Jennifer are the high points. The low being the three dolts pursuing Lindsay: a doctor, a journalist, and a bayou guide. The nurse romance plot, and I won't spoil the outcome, demands that she end up with one of these guys, although to Gaddis' credit, Lindsay isn't really interested in any of them for almost the entire book. So that's the tension that keeps this one moving. Less developed is the mystery of why the journalist is sniffing around the bayou. That plot point is teased a lot but barely pursued until some thin gruel of criminal activity is surprisingly introduced to spur the novel's conclusion. It's the story not told that if it had been would have elevated this one considerably. There's a Valentine paperback edition with the title Strange Shadows of Love which tries to make this seem like a gothic novel. It isn't. Not one of Gaddis' best.

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