Book Review: The Angina Monologues

Don’t you just love when good medicine and good literature collide? I do, and The Angina Monologues by Rosamund Kendal is the best example of this I have encountered – EVER, I think.

[…] three female medical interns from vastly different backgrounds are sent to a rural KZN hospital where rogue snakes, violence and viruses – acknowledged or not – are facts of life. Pampered, spoilt Rachel struggles to establish her independence and learns to love across the cultural divide. Conservative, conscientious Seema struggles to end a relationship that has become increasingly abusive. And ambitious, street-savvy Nomsa finally learns to accept a past she has spend a lifetime denying.

The first reason I love this book is because it reads easily. Medical books, whether fiction or not, are inclined to be so filled with jargon that it becomes difficult to read, let alone to enjoy.

This is a novel, fiction; but it better reflects the lives of young South African doctors better than many journalists or documentaries have succeeded in.

An excellent portrayal of working in rural South Africa hospitals: the nepotism, the hospital politics, maggots in wounds, malnutrition and the restriction of low budgets. And don’t forget the broken ceilings while operating.

Kendal does a wonderful job of finding the heart of a newly-qualified doctor’s uncertainty – doctors who a month ago were nothing more than medical students.

The Angina Monologues does not just talk about medicine, HIV and TB: it creates three superbly relatable characters. I could identify with different aspects of Rachel, Seema and Nomsa’s personalities. There is also a lovely underlying discussion of culturalism vs. modernism in the context of a diverse South Africa.

Because it is a novel, it reads like a novel; the medical milieu remains accessible to the layperson.

A funny, heartwarming and genuine tale of remaining true to oneself as a woman in the South African health care sector, I recommend The Angina Monologues to medical students, prospective medical students, laypersons, South Africans or non-South Africans. Basically: there isn’t really a reason NOT to like this.


  1. What a wonderful review, I really do love when good literature collide – informative and enjoyable. Thank you again for stopping by my blog and commenting!

  2. First of all Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day … I am glad you love Starbucks… I imagine it’s very popular in the world of doctors! 😀 … Thanks also for the book review… I am always looking for a good read!!!

  3. What a lovely review. Was it a complete tearjerker because I avoid those like doctor visits? I work in a small hospital (support staff) and the description of their rural hospital sounds really interesting.

    1. My third novel should be coming out at the beginning of October, so keep an eye out for it. Hope you enjoy it even more than the previous two!

    1. It’s been so long since I read the book, so to be honest I don’t remember so much of it anymore… but you are probably right, because I remember less about Nomsa than the others.

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