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Book Review: Shrewd Sanctity– The Story of Kathleen Hall, Missionary Nurse in China, 1896 – 1970


 Shrewd Sanctity_editedby Rae McGregor.  Second Edition published 2011 by AM Publishing New Zealand. ISBN 978-473-20532-4.                                          

Kathleen Hall, a New Zealand born, trained, and qualified nurse, first arrived in Beijing in 1923 and spent her first year there learning Chinese language, as well as Chinese customs and traditions, at the American Missions Language School. “But what delighted her the most was that she found she had a natural ability for Mandarin; the language fascinated her”.    

Rae McGregor’s careful research on available records and literature in New Zealand and overseas, as well as spending time with Ma Baoru as her interpreter, visiting the villages in China where Kathleen Hall had worked, gives her a very real insight into the character of Kathleen Hall (He Mingqing). Kathleen’s history, aspirations and hopes are given with such clear detail that the reader does end up with a very real feel of how this remarkable, energetic woman quietly and steadfastly made a great difference to the lives and health of the people she had worked with and helped.

The book is well written, easy and interesting to read, and I certainly had a much better idea of who Kathleen Hall was by the time I finished the book.

If you wish to download a pdf of this review, please click HERE

Reviewed by Ian Howat, July 2014

 Editor: New Zealand China Friendship Society has as one of its projects the He Ming Qing (Kathleen Hall) Memorial Scholarship fund. The fund provides three-year scholarships for Chinese from poor rural areas enabling them to complete nursing training in order to return to their villages and work for improved health standards.