In Love and War: Nursing Heroes
Fremantle Press, $24.99 pb, 216 pp, 9781925161458
Western Australian novelist and academic Liz Byrski has written a memoir that explores the reality behind a World War II myth: the ground-breaking work done by plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe to repair the disfigured faces, hands, and lives of fighter pilots and crews. Byrski grew up during the war in East Grinstead, Sussex, near the hospital where McIndoe worked, and was haunted by the sight of the Guinea Pigs, as the men were called.
As the sixty-fifth reunion of the Guinea Pig Club approaches, Byrski decides to revisit her childhood home on a research trip for this book. Her intention is to uncover the female aspect of the story: how the nurses coped in the extraordinary Ward III. She also needs to put her childhood demons to rest.