Villa Sans Souci by Maryann Ring Spencer


Villa Sans Souci, what went on behind its doors in its glorious years, intertwining with the life of Florence Nightingale and the history of Malta, an enigma untangled in a fiction way.
Villa Sans Souci journeys us to the early and later years of Florence Nightingale, Dr. Salvatore Luigi Pisani and the Maltese Islands during and post- the Crimean War. This novel twirled with historical scenes and fiction by Maryann Ring Spencer, who has a great love for Maltese history and the Maltese Islands that always served with pride their important role during wars.
The novel starts with a detailed description of the Villa and an incident that occurs and is then resolved in the last chapter. Further, Florence Nightingale is battling with her parents and sister to accomplish what she is referring to as ‘the call’. Living a luxurious life and aspiring to become a nurse is dishonour. She keeps on studying hospitals reports and keeping contacts of important people through Mary Clark, training in nearby hospitals to finally achieve what she wants and thanks to Mr. Herbert, Secretary of State for War responsible for the Crimean War, offers to Florence Nightingale the responsibility to go to Crimea and sort out the disastrous state of hospitals.
The sea voyage to the Crimea, made a stop at the Maltese harbour where she met again Dr. Salvatore Luigi Pisani, a Maltese doctor who has done his apprenticeship at Kaiserswerth hospital during Florence’s training and now he is joining her on this mission.
In Crimea, it is tremendously challenging and of great stamina to turn the three hospitals occupied by the British troops in good sanitary state and giving all the support the troops need. Support is also sent by a letter and gifts from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
After the war, Dr Pisani and Florence Nightingale kept corresponding on their tasks. The obstacles encountering to do changes in the health sector are huge. A meeting between Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, and Dr. Pisani follows and led to some successful decisions by the House of Commons.
After the completion of a new hospital for the British troops in Malta designed on Miss Nightingale’s suggestions, she visits again Malta and stays at Villa Sans Souci. In the meantime, both Florence Nightingale and Dr. Pisani are working hard on setting up nursing schools in both countries and working also on the health state of India where the British troops were being stationed.
In Malta, Dr. Pisani decides to start a midwifery school, controversially, even the books he has written for the course. However, he reestablishes and continues his teachings at his mansion. During the course, Beatrice (a student), becomes pregnant from a relationship with a navy officer and Dr. Pisani takes the opportunity to teach his students on the pregnancy state of Beatrice. A boy is born, and Dr. Pisani’s altruism offers Beatrice to stay at the mansion. However, Beatrice’s inspiration to become a doctor leads her to depart from Malta to France. Dr. Pisani decides to follow her on another ship as he feels she would need his assistance. His instincts are right as the sea voyage of Beatrice and her son ends in a piracy and the crew and passengers are taken to Algiers.
Beatrice and her son need to be found and Dr. Pisani turns to Mary Clark to provide him with assistance from the government of France. The search is partially successful as only Beatrice is found.
After some years in France, Beatrice decides to follow her dream and continues to study to become a doctor. She corresponds with Dr. Pisani in Malta to help her all the way through her studies. However, Beatrice incidentally dies before graduating, and Dr. Pisani keeps his promise that he will find George, her son.
Dr. Pisani’s and Florence Nightingale’s work including the health sector state of India is continuous.
Finally, a note reaches Dr. Pisani that someone is looking for him and is staying in a hotel in Malta. A woman from Algiers who took care of raising George, at last manages to find Dr. Pisani thanks to a photograph she finds in Algiers depicting Beatrice and her son in Malta.


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