The Grace of a Nightingale: An Odyssey Of Survival


Mary Anne Willow is an author with a compelling message which will inspire, encourage, and support readers going through what some of us may have passed through at certain times in our lives, and what many are still living with today. Mary Anne writes about mental health with clarity and honesty. Her book evokes a sense of freedom that many are searching for and it is so important that Mary Anne has written this book. She did not sugarcoat life; she addressed mental health as it is but that was not all. There is love, hope, and laughter; Mary Anne encourages us to find hope within.  She has written a memoir meant for the entire world. From the struggling professional to the stressed housewife and the successful entrepreneur. Her work speaks for itself.

Arrow Gate Publishing would release ‘THE GRACE OF A NIGHTINGALE’ in the coming months.

Originally posted on Here’s her story:


My story is both ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary because I was searching for the same things many of us seek for: love, understanding, and purpose; and extraordinary because I had to go through hell to find them.

My life was turbulent. I was born in Yorkshire in a decaying northern town to a dysfunctional family in 1962. As a child of three, I witnessed my father beating my mother as I clung to my baby brother believing we would die.

At 7, my family moved back to my parents’ hometown in north-west England. Over the next ten years, I would face domestic violence and sexual abuse, maternal alcoholism, the agonising death of my beloved grandmother from breast cancer and the sadistic teachings of my school teachers.

Growing up in a culture of misogynistic oppression, irrational hate and lack of female power, I escaped to Wales to work in a seaside hotel where I became enlightened by coastal beauty while ‘serving’ others.

Empowered by the respite from domestic violence during my Welsh working holiday I decided to return home and train as a nurse.

In the years that followed I worked and studied in some of the most prestigious hospitals across England. I continually strived to reach my full nursing and academic potential and was awarded a distinction for a Master of Arts degree in Leadership and Management.

Despite my flawless career success, pain and suffering constantly revisited my life. Following a brief, disastrous marriage, I felt empty and lost. Haunted by the legacy of self-contempt, guilt, and shame from my childhood abuse I searched for a deeper meaning to life. Then after I made an unplanned journey to see my brother who was suffering from PTSD following his experiences as a naval seaman during the Falklands and Gulf wars, my life changed forever. One brief, desperate phone conversation with the Navy chaplain, was the beginning of a journey of healing, hope, and lifelong transformation.

In later years I had my self-esteem and confidence crushed by my father’s suicide, further disastrous marriage, and a near-death episode after the insertion of surgical mesh, the most significant health scandal since Thalidomide. I live with the emotional and physical scars caused by this surgical procedure which has become the medical scandal of our age. But, despite everything, I have always remained determined to endure and to find something better.

I felt compelled to write my memoirs ‘The Grace Of A Nightingale’ which describe my personal journey of self-discovery by falling in love with nature, animals, beauty, and God. It is a heartfelt odyssey of survival. Even in my darkest moments, I discovered inner courage and faith, combined with a passionate appreciation of beauty in nature, books, and music, which brought glimpses of light and hope. On my journey ‘mat carriers,’ both friends and strangers, who helped me to triumph over adversity, have supported me. And, like all the best stories, there is a happy ending.

My book attempts to expressively and reflectively trace the stories of my life. In order to survive and thrive after abuse and loss, I must make personal meaning of what I had suffered.

The style of this book provides an aid to the grieving process as well as challenge social stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.

We read to know we are not alone.’ William Nicholson, Shadowlands

All too often we can feel lonely and isolated by those who reject and avoid us. We find it hard to trust others, which just compounds our sense of rejection and abandonment. Negative self-images projected by those who stigmatise and discriminate against us are transformed within this book. Finding new images for yourself can empower and revitalise you. There is freedom from shame and humiliation as you discover new life-enhancing ways to see the world around you.

Feeling lost and confused can be traded for new goals and inner strength.

‘The suffering of pain and abandonment is overcome by the suffering of love, which is not afraid of what is sick and ugly but accepts it and takes it in itself to heal it.’

Ilea Delio, The humility of God.

This book shows how to overcome suffering. It is intended to honour and encourage you the reader as you search for healing and love.

Posted by Christy Nelson

Author: arrowgatepublishing

A book publisher for writers by writers.