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  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784706883
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $26.00

The Language of Kindness

A Nurse's Story




An astonishing memoir about nursing and an urgent call for compassion and kindness

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
*BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week*

An astonishing memoir about nursing and an urgent call for compassion and kindness

‘It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh. It encouraged me to appreciate this most underappreciated of professions more than ever’ Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt
‘A remarkable book about life and death and so brilliantly written it makes you hold your breath’ Ruby Wax

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.

‘It is very hard to describe the essence of nursing but Christie’s story captures it. Through her powerful writing the true value of the nurse becomes clear’ Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing

  • Pub date: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784706883
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $26.00

About the Author

Christie Watson

Christie Watson was a registered nurse for twenty years. Her first novel, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read Award, and she was named as Red Magazine's Hot Woman of the Year (Creative). Where Women Are Kings, her second novel, was also published to international critical acclaim, and her works have been translated into twenty-two languages. Christie has recently won a Future Shapers Award from Marie Claire for nursing activism, and awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters, honoris causa for her contribution to nursing and the arts by the University of East Anglia. She is patron of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation.

https://twitter.com/tinysunbird


Praise for The Language of Kindness

“If it's taken a very long time to get a memoir written by a nurse, then it was certainly worth the wait. I have rarely read anything that has moved me as much or taken me by the hand so confidently into an unknown world, teeming with life and haunted by death... A remarkable book that I will be pressing on everyone I love”

Allison Pearson, The Sunday Telegraph

“An amazing book -- terrifying at times, but tender and truthful. Let's be thankful for wonderful nurses -- and writers -- like Christie Watson”

Jacqueline Wilson

“A powerful insight into the life of nurses”

Robbie Millen, The Times, **Books of the Year**

“I challenge anyone to get through all 336 pages without shedding a tear for what those who work in "the most undervalued of all professions" have to witness ... Expect her stories [...] to linger with you many days after the final chapter”

Jackie Annesley, The Sunday Times

“A poignant and powerful account of what it’s like to be a nurse. It’s a profession that touches all our lives delivering expert and compassionate care from the cradle to the grave. A must-read for nurses and those interested in understanding the true art and science of nursing”

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England

“A deeply compassionate book… It will leave you weeping as well as hopeful”

Helen Davies, Sunday Times, **Books of the Year**

“Wonderful”

Sebastian Faulks

“Lyrical, moving ... Watson tackles grisly deaths and eccentric patients, but also the importance of comfort and empathy in nursing with engrossing results ... A nurse's voice has never really been heard before on this scale. Now's the time for it to ring out loud”

Stylist

“A wise and tender book, by turns fierce, compassionate, and revelatory. It shows the joys and the difficulties of looking after people at their most vulnerable, and makes an urgent plea: as a society we have to care better for the nurses who care for us”

Dr Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being

“Compared with the recent rash of doctor memoirs, this is a far quieter and more thoughtful book”

Kathryn Hughes, Guardian, **Books of the Year**

“A touching and thought-provoking memoir that makes an impassioned plea for the appreciation of the nursing profession ... [Watson] is an elegant, eloquent writer who brings an immediacy to her work. You are right there beside her all the way as she provides a fascinating insight into the trials and triumphs of life in an NHS hospital ... A rallying call for kindness and compassion that every one of us should embrace”

Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express

“Through Watson, we are taken on an absorbing, all-seeing tour through the doors of the hospital ... In Watson's honest memoir, we are reminded that we are all made from the same fibres and are all in this together, exploring the human condition and learning the language of kindness”

Molly Case, The Observer

“Christie Watson is a remarkable writer turning her attention to a crucially important conversation. This book is eloquent, moving and searingly relevant to all of us”

Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

“Remarkable, unforgettable... This page-turning account of how nurses routinely dig deep into their souls to dispense care and compassion in increasingly challenging conditions also packs a massive emotional punch... A remarkable reflection on care, empathy and compassion”

Caroline Sanderson, Sunday Express

“This beautiful memoir – tender, informative, unflinching, every sentence filled with compassion – has reminded me that when I have felt most alone I am, of course, not alone at all”

Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

“An eye-opener ... written with real tenderness”

Good Housekeeping

“There’s one woman who is particularly inspiring me right now…. Christie Watson, who wrote this book called The Language of Kindness... She was an NHS nurse and it is an autobiographical book and it is absolutely breath-taking and it is incredibly affecting and I think it highlights the need for us to be helping nurses where we can. She just is an incredibly strong woman”

Emilia Clarke

“A highly intelligent writer bringing all her narrative skills to bear on a profession in which she spent 20 years ... what emerges time and again is that nursing is about so much more than medicine ... Christie Watson is a wonderful writer. But I can't help thinking she was an even better nurse”

Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

“Watson writes so well, movingly but sparingly, that the result is a profoundly vivid impression of working in a busy hospital”

Jessamy Calkin, The Daily Telegraph

“I was enthralled from the start. Nurses’ voices are rarely heard and Christie is so honest, wise and observant of people that she is just the person to do their story justice. And of course she writes beautifully. The image that stayed with me long after I had put the book down was of the nurse always with the patient, even after everybody else has gone”

Suzanne O'Sullivan, author of It's All in Your Head

“Christie Watson writes with the fullness of her heart to give us insight into the world of patients and nursing, inspiring us to recognise it is how we treat people, how we speak and respond to them, as well as what we do, that heals. Its message of self-compassion and kindness is as useful for those of us outside the medical world, as in it”

Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works

“It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh. It encouraged me to appreciate this most underappreciated of professions more than ever ... A gently remarkable book… it’s a privilege to have Christie as our guide”

Adam Kay, Guardian

“A remarkable book about life and death and so brilliantly written it makes you hold your breath”

Ruby Wax

“It's that combination of fierce compassion and unflinching honesty about the human cost of nursing which makes this such a compelling and universally relevant book. It couldn't be more topical, or timeless, and the fact that it's written with an elegant grace that makes it a joy to read doesn't hurt either”

Eilis O'Hanlon, Irish Independent

“There is so much love in this book that it makes the tears bearable. Christie Watson has written a beautiful and lyrical account of the true meaning of a nurse’s life”

Amanda Foreman

“Christie Watson shines the wisest of lights on the daily practice of caring for others. She celebrates kindness that is rooted in true respect for human dignity and equality – a kindness without which society would be a much sadder place. This piercingly tender book will make you laugh, cry and reflect on what life is all about”

Nicky Parker, publisher at Amnesty International UK

“Moving, eloquent, funny, inspiring -- an urgent book for our times”

Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Cafe

“Terrifically moving memoir of caring and compassion on the nursing front line”

Sunday Times

“A remarkable book… Watson illustrates why a nurse has a harder job than 99 per cent of lawyers (I am one) and deserves to be paid more. Absolutely brilliant!”

Clive Stafford Smith OBE, human rights lawyer

“More than a memoir, The Language of Kindness exerts the power of a gripping novel threaded with science, philosophy, history and ethics. Like poetry, it resists paraphrase. A quick summary is out of the question, this brilliant life-changing book has to be experienced ... Watson is a funny, totally loveable narrator but this book is a serious shock to the system -- a journey to the underworld, our hard-working guide an observant Virgil to the 21st century”

Martina Evans, Irish Times

“If you want to know what nursing is, then read this book”

Robert Sowney, Chair, RCN Foundation

“This is a phenomenal book, a love song for the NHS and its staff - the hundreds of millions of us who have gained from it throughout our lives have Christie Watson to thank for delivering it on our behalf. Passionate, political, heartbreaking, it is beautifully written in the fiercely honest language of kindness itself”

Stella Duffy

“Profoundly moving... urging us all to lead a life of greater compassion”

Charlotte Heathcote and Jon Coates, Daily Express

“An astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness, and an urgent reminder of the need for these qualities in the NHS - and everyday life - from a nurse with 20 years' experience”

Red Magazine

“A remarkable book - intelligent, impassioned, consistently moving - that can’t help but make readers revisit the sharpest spikes of life, where nurses often are. Christie Watson looks directly at the fragility of human existence, and the importance of what we choose to value. I can't think of many better uses of writing, nor of writing more likely to make me a better person”

Richard Beard

“I defy anyone to finish this without weeping and giving thanks to the NHS ... An important book that should be on every reading list”

Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

“Christie Watson’s book brings home the incredible strength and determination that nurses working in our critically underfunded NHS must possess – and how wildly underappreciated they are”

Rachael Jolley, Editor, Index on Censorship

“Gripping and tender”

Radio Times

“A remarkable reflection on care, empathy and compassion ... packs massive emotional impact ... I urge you to read it”

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

“This tender, truth-telling memoir will break your heart into little pieces ... This book is a salient reminder that at some point we are all going to need care and we can only hope we'll get someone like Christie who understands the need for "sympathy, compassion, empathy" in our most vulnerable moments”

Eithne Farry, The Simple Things

“The award-winning novelist writes about her 20 years as a nurse, taking us from life to death of the wards in a moving account”

Hannah Beckerman, Sunday Express

“As Watson observes, the ability to step into another’s shoes is essential for both nurse and novelist. So too is an eagle eye, and it is the details that prove so unforgettable ... I found myself compelled to go back, and freshly moved and humbled”

Stephanie Cross, The Lady

“A highly emotional and eloquent retelling of different patients, staffers, experiences and departments ... A much-needed human voice”

Tanya Sweeney, The Irish Times

“[Watson] writes with such considered awareness of medical procedure and resources, human frailty and resilience, that you know she dug deep for this book ... You are also privy to an extraordinary world and appreciate Watson's lasting belief: that most of us are inherently kind - and the better for showing it”

Kerry Fowler, Sainsbury's Magazine

“The Language of Kindness is teeming with humanity ... [It] puts other memoirs to shame, by narrating an ordinary working life which nevertheless confronts the dark, the sublime, the transcendental”

Roisin Kiberd, Sunday Business Post

“Her book makes harrowing, heart-rendering reading.”

Helen Brown, Daily Mail

“An engaging and authentic portrait of modern care ... Through Watson’s inclusion of relevant statistics and historical facts, as well as her meticulous observation skills, readers will better understand the value of nurses”

Library Journal

“Hypnotic prose ... quiet brilliance ... This is a wake-up book in the best possible way, a study in-the-round: amusing, hilarious even, enthralling and sad, and definitely an indictment of our time”

The Arts Desk

“We hear far less often from nurses and therapists… It’s time we heard their side of the story. And who better to tell it than this nurse-turned-award-winning literary novelist.”

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

“Anecdotal story-telling wrapped up in hypnotic prose… This is a wake-up book in the best possible way, a study in-the-round: amusing, hilarious even, enthralling and sad, and definitely an indictment of our time.”

Marina Vaizey, The Arts Desk

“A remarkable book. I learned more in chapter 3 than I have in all the other books I’ve read this year. Watson illustrates why a nurse has a harder job than 99 per cent of lawyers (I am one) and deserves to be paid more. Absolutely brilliant!”

Clive Stafford Smith OBE, human rights lawyer

“The Language of Kindness flows so beautifully, and naturally. Christie adds real warmth to very factual, and medical information … I urge all of you to read this book”

Five Little Doves

“[Watson] beautifully describes the life-affirming impact of nurses doing and saying the right thing”

Strong Words

“[Watson] tells us things we need to know”

Chisholm, The Tablet

“[The Language of Kindness is] a tender and beautifully written account of how this process – learning how to be kind – challenges, teaches, sometimes harms, and then completes a person”

Peter Dorward, Telegraph

“At the heart of Christie Watson’s philanthropic memoir…lies a remarkable thesis on life, death and the kaleidoscopic narratives…that weave us together”

Kat Lister, The Pool

“This stunning read reminds us that nurses are human after all”

Jude Rogers, Mail on Sunday

“Christie Watson's memoir of 20 years as an NHS nurse is completely absorbing. The best books tell us about life as well as lives and I've read nothing recently that I found so moving and, even in its descriptions of suffering and death, so uplifting. Watson has an eye for detail that is practical, compassionate and very often funny”

Lucy Lethbridge, The Tablet

“Christie captures life as a nurse in the humblest manner, and anyone in or considering nursing is encouraged to read it”

Julia Williams, Gastrointestinal Nursing

“The Language of Kindness exerts the power of a gripping novel threaded with science, philosophy, history and ethics. Like poetry, it resists paraphrase. A quick summary is out of the question, this brilliant life-changing book has to be experienced.”

Martina Evans, Irish Times

“Watson’s prose…fizzes with real life, each story and encounter containing its own epic narrative sweep”

Lucy Lethbridge, The Oldie

“Watson evokes the topography of each arm of nursing in vivid detail.”

Irish Times

“Watson evokes the topography of each arm of nursing in vivid detail.”

Irish Times

“I defy anyone to finish this without weeping and giving thanks for the NHS… An important book that should be on every reading list.”

Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

“The Language of Kindness could not be more compelling or more welcome. It's about how we survive, and about the people who help us do so”

Roxana Robinson, New York Times Book Review

“[A] powerful account of her life as a nurse… reading her memoir is a truly uplifting experience.”

Jacqueline Wilson, The Week

“This brilliant and profound book left an indelible mark on me this year”

Ian Birrell

“[A] powerful account of her life as a nurse… reading her memoir is a truly uplifting experience.”

Jacqueline Wilson, The Week

“A nurse’s voice has never really been heard before on this scale. Now’s the time for it to ring loud.”

Stylist

“Watson writes so well, movingly but sparingly, that the result is a profoundly vivid impression of working in a busy hospital”

Jessamy Calk, Daily Telegraph

“Moving and compassionate…The Language of Kindness… is a sensitive, perceptive and blunt account of a nurse’s journey”

Richard Barr, Solicitors Journal

“[Watson] is an elegant, eloquent writer who brings an immediacy to her work. You are right there beside her all the way as she provides a fascinating insight into the trails and triumphs of life in an NHS hospital… a rallying call for kindness and compassion that every one of us should embrace.”

Mernie Gilmore, Sunday Express

“An astounding account of life as a nurse”

Liz Nice, Eastern Daily Press

“Through Watson, we are taken on an absorbing, all-seeing tour through the doors of the hospital”

Molly Case, Guardian


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