Catherine Carreg has grown up a tomboy, spending her days racing her ponies with Deio, the drover's son, in a small Welsh village. When tragedy strikes her family, it affects Catherine deeply; she determines to become a nurse, in spite of the plans her father has made for her. With Deio's help, she disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to London.
Catherine finds a position in a rest home for sick governesses in Harley Street, run by Miss Nightingale. When Russells's despatches from Scutari shock the Secretary for War into sending nurses to the Crimea, Catherine volunteers. The night before she leaves, she meets Deio in Hyde Park to tell him of her plans. Deio is furious with Catherine's 'unnatural ambitions', yet determines to follow her, shipping his beloved horses out for sale to the British army.
Arriving in Scutari, Catherine is pitched into a living nightmare. The conditions are appalling, typhus is rife and the doctors are on the verge of insanity. As male paranoia takes hold, the nurses are confined to their quarters, forced to watch the arrival of wounded and dying soldiers but forbidden from helping them.
When casualties from Balaclava begin to arrive, the women decide to ignore orders and begin nursing the sick and injured. Battling incompetence, lack of supplies and disease, Catherine must grow up quickly and painfully against traumatic events that will shape history.
THE WATER HORSE is a vivid and compelling saga, bringing to life the true story of a young woman who ran away to nurse in the Crimea.