The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson – Book Review

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson – Book Review

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

The Language of Kindness
A Nurse’s Story

Author – Christie Watson
Publisher – Chatto & Windus
Pages – 336
Released – 3rd May 2018
ISBN-13 – 978-1784741976
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio
Reviewer – Nia
Rating – 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book


Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

Review 2017

This is a powerful and beautifully written book, a heartfelt account about the practicalities of nursing and the toll it takes on the people who have chosen the career.

I enjoyed the way this book was laid out, first starting with Watson’s decision to become a nurse and her training – then mapping out nursing chronologically from working in maternity, with young children, in A&E and then with end of life care. She talks about the different personality types and skill sets needed in some of the specialities, which shines a light on why some people work in the departments they do and thrive there.

The unexpected element of this book is how philosophical it is on the nature of kindness, caring for others and the meaning of life and death. It must be difficult to work with very ill children and not wonder about the nature of death, but I think the author words it all perfectly. There’s a lot of short anecdotes about the theory of nursing from various sources and how it fits into the practical side of things, how sometimes the best way to care for your patient is to hold their hand and listen to them talk.

The writing style is very personable and you can really start to understand how nurses are the hearts of hospitals, bringing dignity and kindness to strangers who are at their most vulnerable while all the while having to protect their own hearts from the terrible things they have to witness. I know that I’d never be able to be a nurse for that reason – the energy needed to balance compassion and detachment successfully is immense.

Reviewed by Nia

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About the Author

Christie Watson

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. She worked in a variety of healthcare settings, but spent most of her career in paediatric intensive care in large NHS hospitals before becoming a resuscitation nurse.

Christie now teaches and writes and advocates for nursing. 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 into eighteen languages.


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18 Responses

  1. Shahenda says:

    It’s look like a very nice read

  2. Terri A. Wilson says:

    Sounds like this book should be required reading. We could all use more lessons on kindness.

  3. Tasha says:

    Lovely review. I have friends who are nurses and they are amazing people.

  4. Mandi Schneck says:

    I work with a lot of nursing students in my job, and I need to recommend this to all of them!!

  5. Okay you convinced me! Added to my TBR!

  6. Lexi says:

    What is the cover image??

    • I actually don’t know what it is. Wonder if it is supposed to represent death? I’m not sure. The Image is just a dark egg timer shape surrounded by lighter blue.

  7. DJ Sakata says:

    Sounds like a heartsqueezer

  8. Sounds like a good read to teach us all a bit of compassion and humility.

  9. Megan @ Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest says:

    This sounds amazing. I have often said I’m not strong enough to be a nurse. Everything that they must go through and see…heartwrenching. Beautiful but also terrifying.