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It’s a wonderful pleasure to hear about Jane Smith‘s journey of her inspirations, research and writing of her Carly Mills series and the latest title, The Lady with the Lamp.

When I started this book I had no idea we were about to enter a time of pandemic, and modern medicine was about to face the sort of challenges that were commonplace in Florence’s day.

Jane Smith

Congratulations, Jane, on the fourth title in your engaging Carly Mills Pioneer Girl series; The Lady with the Lamp!

Briefly, what can you tell us about this adventure?

Carly Mills and her friends Dora and Simone are visiting Simone’s parents in London for a holiday, when they slip back in time to London of the mid-nineteenth century. There they meet the young Florence Nightingale on the brink of her nursing career. Later, they travel with Florence to the Crimean War and work alongside her, nursing the sick and wounded soldiers in the military hospital. They go back and forth in time to meet Florence at various stages of her life. Through their adventures with the legendary nurse, they come to understand the true value of her work and legacy.

Why did you choose to research and give prominence to inspirational founder of modern nursing during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale?

Florence interested me for a few reasons. One is my family background in health care; my mother and grandmother were nurses, I used to be a physio, and I’ve worked as a hospital librarian and archivist – so I have a long history of working side by side with nurses. And finally, I loved her because she was so real! Everyone knows and admires her for the work she did in the Crimean War, but that’s not the whole story. Her work in the Crimea only helped her realise her mistakes and drove her to do her real work – promoting the importance of hygiene and sanitation. It wasn’t not as glamorous as her war work, but it was vastly more effective and important. Her perseverance and determination and her sense of purpose were all admirable, but I think it was her humility and her ability to keep learning that were truly inspirational.

When I started this book I had no idea we were about to enter a time of pandemic, and modern medicine was about to face the sort of challenges that were commonplace in Florence’s day. Covid-19 has reminded us, I think, that modern medicine doesn’t have all the answers. It also reminded us of what Florence knew: that prevention is better than cure, particularly when we don’t yet have a cure. And it has reminded us of the debt that we owe as a society to the nursing and medical professions, and to people like Florence Nightingale.

Besides the obvious historical lessons interwoven through your adventurous story, what are the main aspects you’d like readers to take away from their reading experience?

Most of all, I just want kids to enjoy the adventure. Reading has always been a source of great joy for me, and I’d like to think that the Carly Mills books might introduce kids to the pleasures of reading. Aside from that, I think Florence had certain qualities and attitudes that are inspiring, and I’d like kids to be aware of their value. Things like perseverance and humility and the importance of seeking truth and knowledge. Florence sought meaning in life through service of others; it’s not a fashionable philosophy and I don’t want to ram it down kids’ throats, but the idea is there for them to ponder if they want to.

In your extensive research pursuits, what surprising or fascinating elements did you uncover? Was there anything you wanted to include but didn’t fit with your narrative?

What surprised me the most was Florence’s desire to be a mathematician. That was her first career choice, but her family wouldn’t allow it. They weren’t keen on the idea of nursing either. Florence was from a very wealthy family, and apparently nursing wasn’t at all respectable in those days because it would mean coming into contact with the lower classes. Apparently it wasn’t unusual for doctors to count the lives of the low-class soldiers as of little importance. But Florence, despite her upper-class background, challenged that attitude and strongly defended the right of all patients to be respected equally. I found that surprising and endearing. I think details like that tell us really important information about her character, so I’ve done my best to include them.

All the historical women you’ve featured in the Carly Mills series are heroic figures that have paved the pathway in their fields for future generations. Which one of them have you found most relatable or personally intriguing? In what ways?

I’m very partial to Dr Lilian Cooper, Queensland’s first female doctor. She’s the subject of book 2, Emergency! She was a real character: gruff, no-nonsense, clever, loyal, outspoken, strong and kind. She studied medicine in England, back in a time when universities there didn’t let women sit for their final exams; she had to go to Scotland for that. In 1891, she emigrated to Brisbane with her lifelong friend – another remarkable woman – Josephine Bedford. She had to overcome distrust and prejudice in the community, but by the end of her career she was very well respected both by the medical profession and the public. She did a lot to advance public health, especially for women and children. She was also a keen motorist and a founding member of the RACQ. In WWI, she even went to Macedonia to serve as a surgeon – with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, because the Australian Army wouldn’t accept female surgeons. She was in her fifties! Jo Bedford went with her and looked after the ambulances. They were a really dynamic pair.

As a librarian, what suggestions can you make for educators utilising your books in the classroom?

Teachers can download teaching notes for free from my Carly Mills website: https://www.carlymillspioneergirl.com/for-teachers.html

They’ll also find loads of other resources on the site: information about the historical figures as well as the fictional characters, colouring-in activities, quizzes and links to other child-friendly sites about women in history.

Can you provide us with a glimpse into the past of your future titles?

I can’t wait for the release of the fifth Carly Mills book next year. It’s called Taking Flight and it features the amazing aviator, Amelia Earhart. Plenty of action and adventure there!

Thanks so much for your insights, Jane! 😊

Thank you!

Please follow Jane Smith at her website: Jane Smith, Author – Home (janesmithauthor.com)

The official Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl website: CARLY MILLS, PIONEER GIRL – Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl (carlymillspioneergirl.com)

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The Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl series is available for purchase through: Big Sky Publishing | Booktopia

WIN a Trip to the Past with the Carly Mills 4 #BookGiveaway!

Click here to ENTER to WIN a copy of the exciting time-travelling adventure, The Lady with the Lamp!

Join us as we time travel with Jane Smith and her exciting historical fiction chapter book, Carly Mills Pioneer Girl; The Lady with the Lamp, across the blogosphere and at the following media sources…


Creative Editing Panel and Book Launch with Jane Smith

WHEN: August 14, 2021 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WHERE: Hills District Community Centre Hall, Arana Hills 4054

FREE Event. Register HERE.

Organised by Books On Tour PR & Marketing. Email: info.booksontour@gmail.com

2 thoughts to “Jane Smith Enlightens Us on The Lady with the Lamp

  • Lynette Peucker

    These books ‘all’ sound amazing

    • Just Write For Kids

      They really are! 🙂


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