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The unflinching, spellbinding new book from the acclaimed author of The Second Life of Mirielle West. Based on the little-known story of America’s first nursing school, a young female grifter in 1880s New York evades the police by conning her way into Bellevue Hospital’s training school for nurses, while a spate of murders continues to follow her as she tries to leave the gritty streets of the city behind…
“A spellbinding story, a vividly drawn setting, and characters that leap off the pages. This is historical fiction at its finest!” – Sara Ackerman, USA Today bestselling author of The Codebreaker’s Secret
BookBub’s Best Historical Fiction of Summer
Based on Florence Nightingale’s nursing principles, Bellevue is the first school of its kind in the country. Where once nurses were assumed to be ignorant and unskilled, Bellevue prizes discipline, intellect, and moral character, and only young women of good breeding need apply. At first, Una balks at her prim classmates and the doctors’ endless commands. Yet life on the streets has prepared her for the horrors of injury and disease found on the wards, and she slowly gains friendship and self-respect.
Just as she finds her footing, Una’s suspicions about a patient’s death put her at risk of exposure, and will force her to choose between her instinct for self-preservation, and exposing her identity in order to save others.
Amanda Skenandore brings her medical expertise to a page-turning story that explores the evolution of modern nursing—including the grisly realities of nineteenth-century medicine—as seen through the eyes of an intriguing and dynamic heroine.
PRAISE FOR AMANDA SKENANDORE’S THE SECOND LIFE OF MIRIELLE WEST
“In this superior historical, the author’s diligent research, as well as her empathetic depiction of those subjected to forced medical isolation, make this a winner.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Amanda Skenandore is an award-winning author of historical fiction and a registered nurse. Her debut novel, Between Earth and Sky was a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Books selection and winner of the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List award for Best Historical Fiction of the year. Her third novel, The Second Life of Mirielle West was named an Apple Best Books of the Month and a Hoopla Book Club Pick. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and can be found online at AmandaSkenandore.com.
Praise for Amanda Skenandore
“Amanda Skenandore dazzles us with a spellbinding story, a vividly drawn setting, and characters that leap off the pages. I was fascinated from start to finish and could not put this book down. This is historical fiction at its finest!”
—Sara Ackerman, USA Today bestselling author of The Codebreaker’s Secret on The Nurse’s Secret
“In this superior historical from Skenandore, the wife of a 1920s Hollywood actor is transformed by the news of a medical diagnosis… Skenandore makes plausible Mirielle’s metamorphosis from Hollywood socialite to active, caring member of the Carville community. The author’s diligent research, as well as her empathetic depiction of those subjected to forced medical isolation, make this a winner.”
—Publishers Weekly on The Second Life of Mirielle West
“Scrupulous in her research and practically clairvoyant in her choice of urgent subjects — from the Indigenous boarding schools of her first novel to the disease and quarantine of The Second Life of Mirielle West — historical novelist Amanda Skenandore has quietly become one of the valley’s finest authors.” —The Las Vegas Review Journal
“Despite being a fictional work, in her book The Second Life of Mirielle West Amanda Skenandore has used her medical background as a registered nurse—and her storytelling skills as a writer—to describe the sorrows experienced by patients with leprosy who were quarantined at the Carville Leper Home.”
"Effie's community of freedmen and Creoles in Reconstruction New Orleans is unforgettable. Skenandore's second novel is recommended for readers who enjoy medical historical fiction reminiscent of Diane McKinney-Whetstone's Lazaretto, and historical fiction with interpersonal drama."
—Library Journal on The Undertaker's Assistant
"Our immersion in that world--from the particulars of baking marble cake to the grisly minutiae of embalming corpses to the messy and violent politics of the Reconstruction South--is so complete that the reader never doubts it once existed. That said, one of this novel's many virtues is how it subtly conveys how many black citizens in the post-Civil War era took it upon themselves to improve their own lives."
—Historical Novels Review on The Undertaker's Assistant
"Readers who like complex characters amid a roiling historical setting will be fascinated by Effie's quest...Teen readers who are not turned off by the embalming details will empathize with a young woman's search for identity and love."
—Booklist on The Undertaker's Assistant
“Did you know there was a leper colony in the US? I didn't! This fascinating tale of a movie star's wife forced into a leper colony in the 1920's was eye-opening and shockingly relevant. Mirielle's journey with this incredibly stigmatized disease is heart wrenching, and poignant. This would make an excellent book club pick as you will want to discuss this one!”
—Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book (Palmyra, NY) on The Second Life of Mirielle West
"Intensely emotional...Skenandore's deeply introspective and moving novel will appeal to readers of American history, particularly those interested in the dynamics behind the misguided efforts of white people to better the lives Native American by forcing them to adopt white cultural mores."
—Publishers Weekly on Between Earth and Sky
"By describing its costs in human terms, the author shapes tension between whites and Native Americans into a touching story. The title of Skenandore's debut could refer to reality and dreams, or to love and betrayal; all are present in this highly original novel."
—Booklist on Between Earth and Sky
"A heartbreaking story about the destructive legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. Historical fiction readers and book discussion groups will find much to ponder here."
—Library Journal on Between Earth and Sky
"Gripping and beautifully written, Between Earth and Sky tugs at the heart with its dynamic heroine and unique cast of characters. Though this novel brings alive two historical American eras and settings, the story is achingly modern, universal and important."
—Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The It Girls on Between Earth and Sky