The Great Escape from Woodland Nursing Home – Joanna Nell

In a world where nursing homes, care homes and the like are very much dominant in the news, this delightful book forgets all our current circumstances and plunges us into Woodlands Nursing Home and some of it’s interesting residents.

Hattie Bloom, determinedly single, a lover of all things ornithological and certainly not human finds herself in this nursing home. Constrained by rules and regulations, it is Hattie’s wish to escape back to her own home. Like a nesting bird that is where she feels most safe surrounded by what she knows.

Walter Clement has been a resident for a while and is determined to keep his love of the open road going and pass his ability test to be able to use his scooter. Sadly the open road is going to be closed for a bit longer than anticipated.

Sister Bronwyn is the night sister, she has quite a way with all the residents and it seems that once she has worked you out, Sister Bronwyn will introduce to the Night Owls. A secret little group that keeps the residents entertained overnight and relies on what they know and so they can feel like they can belong. I think Sister Bronwyn is onto something with her particular choices of activities for the residents.

However it seems that the Night Owls are about to be extinguished.

The residents of the Woodlands Nursing Home put their wits against the management, the medical profession and the police to escape the monotony of the world they finds themselves incarcerated in.

Who will gain the upper hand?

Somehow Joanna Nell has encompassed the continual life these residents live, by naming all their rooms by Monopoly Board squares, it felt like they were all continually going round that board until the point one of them couldn’t pass go anymore. Her experience as a GP clearly comes through in the book with the writing and there is a part of me that hopes that some of the little incidents are perhaps gleaned from real life. When you get to them in the book – you will know!

This is a delightful heart warming novel which will bring you tears of laughter, joy and sadness. You stop and think about the life you have lead, the life you still have left to lead and what those who are nearing their end of their lives really want from those final days.

If you enjoy slow books that are packed with so much, you have to savour every moment, then this is the book for you. It reminds me of Rachel Joyce novels. The main topics perhaps are maudlin and you don’t think would make for easy or pleasant reading but this is book is a celebration of lives lived and lives lost. Celebrate by reading it.


Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Great Esacpe from Woodlands Nursing Home is published on 7 January 2021.