Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse (book #61)

Helen Wells, 1947 (this edition 1957, UK).



The Wikipedia article describes this series as mysteries, but it looks as if this is not the case with this and the earlier books – this is 8 of 27. The list in this book is incomplete, listing books 1, 2, 5, 9, 4, 17, 8 and 7 by Helen Wells and then 12, 13, 10 and 11 by Julie Tatham.

It’s interesting to compare the book with Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse (1938). Like Sue Barton, Cherry Ames is told that when she visits families she should ask them to put newspaper on the table, and then put her bag on that, to avoid contamination. The service Cherry works in is fictional whilst Sue’s is Henry Street.

Cherry doesn’t have Sue’s relative complexity and self-doubt.

I like Evelyn Stanley, the social worker: “a pleasant young woman in a gay, red sports dress”. Some sports dresses: 1940s McCall pattern, 1940s Habitmaker picture, discussion of the shortwaist dress / sports dress from the 1920s to 1940s. Evelyn says she “wakes up at night sometimes, wondering who’s all alone, only a few blocks away”. She also describes herself as a “dangerous ideas woman”. Later she identifies a “romance” between two of her clients. Helen Wells was herself a social worker before she started writing.

There were two phrases I was surprised to see so early. Firstly, “a mysterious shut-in,” meaning a recluse. The Online Etymology Dictionary dates the first recorded use to 1904, however. Secondly, the sentence with which Cherry ends the book: “Now my work here is done”. This must be a quotation or near-quotation from something (the Bible?).

Need to scan images.


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