Here's a treat for those who thrilled while Upstairs-y Georgina Worseley nursed dying soldiers on the telly. Martha Lackland, a homely, 38-year-old spinster who spends her time in London caring for fallen women and their children, meets one of her old clients, Sad, speaking on the street corner about the 'orrible conditions of the wounded soldiers and their women and little ones what is at the front in the Crimean War. Martha is seized by a calling to go and care for these women and children. Against prodigious odds and social censure, but with the help of her rich and interesting family (celebrated in four previous books in the series), Martha raises enough money to get Sal and herself to the slums of Scutari, where she sets up a dispensary. Florence Nightingale is around, but no help at all, as she thinks Martha a mere tract-pusher till she proves her mettle. Of more help is a surgeon, Alexander Laurence, whom Martha meets in a London ballroom but learns to love in Scutari. Also present is nephew Freddy, fleeing from a tortured love for his cousin Phoebe, who had come to him for an abortion when she became pregnant by another man. Freddy does heroic medicine in Scutari, even performing one of the first successful blood transfusions--just one of the fine, gutsy details in this admirable swatch of Victoriana.