It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

A perfectly ordinary week passed by, though for the first time in six months my BFF and her husband come for dinner on the weekend. We’ve been playing it safe because my BFF has compromised health, so It was lovely to catch up face to face.

 

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

 

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

Wasp Season by Jennifer Scoullar

 

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New Posts…

 

Review: The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Review: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

Review: The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

Review: Wasp Season by Jennifer Scoullar

Bookish Bounty

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea, that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

++++++

 

They call her ‘the gangbuster’.

The police force can be a tough place for a woman, but Detective Superintendent Deborah Wallace rose to the top with grace, humour and an iconic sense of style. In her incredible 36-year career with NSW Police, Wallace took on murderers and drug suppliers, and dismantled the state’s most nefarious gangs.

Tenacious, perceptive and sharp, Wallace commanded a range of police crime squads, bringing order to the wild west of 1990s Cabramatta and busting criminal bikie gangs with Strike Force Raptor, until her retirement in late 2019. Her inner strength and empathy meant that she was a constant go-to for some of the state’s toughest cases, and her poise and compassion earned her a special place in the lives and hearts of her colleagues – and the grudging respect of her criminal foes.

In Wallace’s official biography, veteran crime writer Mark Morri brings to life the jaw-dropping true story of a police trailblazer and woman of force.

++++++

 

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones). With the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), he belongs to an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.

Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelled surnames, a reading-room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.

Merlin has a quest of his own: to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, a right-handed bookseller named Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find their quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.

+++++++

 

A former soldier turned PI solves crime in a world that’s lost its magic in this brilliant sequel to actor Luke Arnold’s debut The Last Smile in Sunder City.

The name’s Fetch Phillips–what do you need?

Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure.

Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.

Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley.

What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back.

Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world.

But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Bookshelf Bounty

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

For Review (ebook)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)

  
  
   
 

Review: The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

Title: The Mother Fault

Author: Kate Mildenhall

Published: 2nd September 2020, Simon & Schuster

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Simon & Schuster

++++++

My Thoughts:

In The Mother Fault, Kate Mildenhall imagines a dystopian future for Australia. Parts of the country have been devastated by the effects of climate change, with coastal areas flooded by rising seas. Much of the land is barren, dry, and damaged from fracking. The populace is surveilled and controlled by The Department, who insist citizens be chipped from birth, ‘for their own protection and convenience’, and who relocate ‘citizens in need’ to gated communities known as ‘BestLife’.

So when Mim’s husband, Ben, who works for an mining conglomerate and regularly spends time in Indonesia, fails to return from his latest work trip, and no one can tell her where he is, Mim begins to panic. Then The Department shows up asking questions, intimating Mim and her children, 11 year-old Essie and 6 year-old Sam, should perhaps be transferred to BestLife until her husband is found. For Mim, whose eldest brother entered BestLife and died shortly after, the veiled threat prompts her to flee with her children with the idea of making their way to Indonesia, and to Ben.

The journey from suburban Victoria, through outback NSW, to the coast of Northern Territory, and then by sea to Indonesia, is fraught with risk. Mildenhall sets an urgent pace, maintaining tension and building further suspense as Mim attempts to evade The Department and cautiously reaches out for help.

Mim is a complex character, she’s not particularly confident in her decision to flee, nor really prepared to do so. She rarely thinks things through very well, and makes some reckless decisions, yet she doesn’t give up and her grit is admirable.

Like any mother in such a precarious position, Mim is particularly anxious about the safety of her children, heightened because of a history of postnatal depression which seems to have left her hypercritical of her own mothering skills. I thought Mildenhall’s portrayal of the family dynamic was relatable and interesting, and the children well drawn characters in their own right, particularly Essie.

Part dystopian, exploring a plausible future of environmental ruin and Owellian surveillance; part mystery thriller, with a dramatic and unexpected ending; all while exploring themes related to motherhood, marriage, and mental health, The Mother Fault is an intelligent and absorbing novel.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster

Also available from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

Title: Over My Dead Body

Author: Dave Warner

Published: 1st October 2020, Fremantle Press

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy BetterReading

+++++++

My Thoughts:

Sherlock Holmes is resurrected by a descendent of his faithful friend, Watson, in Over My Dead Body, an entertaining and inventive crime fiction novel from Australian author, Dave Warner.

As a teenager, Georgette Watson was revived after drowning in a frozen lake, inspiring a career in the field of cryonic’s. She believes she’s perfected the process of resurrection, but to advance her research further she needs a human subject. Unexpectedly, a distant relative’s diary provides her with the perfect specimen, and when Georgette successfully reanimates the century-old man she finds herself in the company of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Warner gives us two well plotted and creative mysteries to solve in Over My Dead Body. Conveniently, Georgette acts as a consultant for the NYPD to supplement her grant income, and to help orientate Sherlock to 2020 New York, he joins her when she is called to determine time of death for a murdered woman. Holmes, being …well, Holmes, immediately sees what the police detectives have not, and he and Georgette find themselves hunting a serial killer whose motives echo a case from Sherlock’s now distant past.

The second mystery endangers the lives of Georgette and her sister, Simone, as they are targeted by a killer driven by an all consuming desire for revenge. Suspense builds as, distracted by the chase of the serial killer and Georgette’s growing fear for Holme’s health, neither are aware they are a target until it is almost too late. It’s Holmes unique detecting skills that save the day, of course, but at a cost.

There are some lighthearted moments in Over My Dead Body as Sherlock marvels at mobile phones, refrigerators and the internet, beats a shell game conman at his own game, and takes down a subway pick-pocket. His horror at discovering cocaine can’t be brought from the neighbourhood chemist is amusing, as is the thought of Sherlock Holmes wearing short pajamas and a Slayer tee-shirt. There is also a touch of romance in the story, which is quite sweet, and not intrusive.

I found Over My Dead Body well-written and enjoyable. Not just for fans of Sherlock Holmes, the original premise and interesting mystery should appeal a range of crime readers.

++++++++

Available from Fremantle Press

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline


Title: The Exiles

Author: Christina Baker Kline

Published: 15th September 2020, Custom House

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss

+++++++

My Thoughts:

Inspired by true events, The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is historical fiction set in the 1840’s, and follows the fortunes of three very different women.

When Evangeline is found in possession of a family heirloom gifted to her by her employer’s absent son, the naive young governess is arrested and imprisoned in Newgate to await trial. She bears the deplorable conditions only because she expects to be rescued when her lover returns and learns she is pregnant, but she is convicted and sentenced to fourteen years transportation on Van Diemen’s Land.

During the journey to Australia, Evangeline meets Hazel, a Scottish teenager sentenced to seven years for stealing a silver spoon. The daughter of an alcoholic midwife and healer, Hazel offers Evangeline some ginger to combat her nausea, and the two develop a friendship of sorts, supporting and protecting each other during the long and unpleasant journey.

As the ‘Medea’ makes its way across the ocean, nine year old Aboriginal orphan Mathinna is taken from the only home she has ever known among her people on Flinder’s Island at the whim at the Van Diemen’s Land Governor’s wife. Installed in Government House, Mathinna is expected to embrace the English way of life, learning French, and ‘perform’ on command for the Governor’s guests.

I can’t fault Kline’s research in The Exiles, I’m not unfamiliar with the historical details of women’s experience of transportation, colonisation, and convict life, and I believe the author’s representation is accurate, from her descriptions of the squalid overcrowding in Newgate Prison, to the perils of the convict ship journey, and life inside a ‘female factory’ within the colony. Women and girls were subjected to excessive punishment for the pettiest of crimes, condemned without empathy or concession, their transportation to Australia was essentially a life sentence, if they survived the journey.

For me however the characters of Evangeline and Hazel seemed to be lost within the historical framework. There is nothing particularly unique about them, or their experiences, that I haven’t read in a textbook, or a novel on a similar subject. While I was interested in learning their fates, I didn’t really form much of an emotional connection to either of them.

Mathinna’s story illustrates the attitudes towards, and the treatment of, Australia’s First Nation’s population during British colonisation. Considered no more than ‘ignorant savage’s’, they were either cruelly slaughtered, or corralled and exiled from Van Diemen’s Land (now known as Tasmania) to smaller, poorly resourced islands, or camps, and forced to adopt a ‘civilised’ lifestyle. By the mid 1840’s less than 50 full-blooded aborigines remained alive, and by the turn of the century there were none.

The Franklin’s, who take Mathinna from the camp on Flinders Island, barely treat Mathinna better than a pet, and abandon her the moment they lose interest in their ‘experiment’ to tame a ‘savage’. While Mathinna’s story is significant in and of itself, and in general reflects the experience of her real-life counterpart, it doesn’t really integrate into the story as a whole. Mathinna only briefly crosses paths with Hazel while she is living at Government House when Hazel is assigned there to serve as a maid, and as such there is a disconnect in all but theme.

It’s not that I didn’t find The Exiles interesting or agreeable, it just didn’t quite engage my imagination or emotions in the way other similar novels have, though I do think it’s likely someone less familiar with the history will be affected differently.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins US

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon


The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

Congratulations to Mary P. who is the winner of my 10th Blogoversary Giveaway!

You may remember last week I reviewed The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, which I loved. Osman is a TV personality in the UK, and while I was familiar with Pointless, which he adjudicates, I hadn’t heard of House of Games, a quiz show which he hosts. I found the show on YouTube and thought I’d watch an episode or two, but I’ve been watching it nonstop all week. It’s fun to play along (though UK-centric questions are tough). If you are a fan of trivia, there are 3 seasons – about 200 episodes available (just search House of Games).

Lastly, thank you for your condolences with regards to the loss of my brother-in-law. It hasn’t been an easy week, particularly for my husband of course. Philip was just 59, the oldest of four children (my husband is the youngest at 50), much loved by his many nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and nephews, whom he doted on as he never married, nor had children of his own. He will be missed.

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

Her Last Words by Kim Kelly

The Bush Telegraph by Fiona McArthur

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

 

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New Posts…

 

Review: Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

Blog Tour Review: The Bush Telegraph by Fiona McArthur

Review: Her Last Words by Kim Kelly

Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Review: Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

 

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.

During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel — a skilled midwife and herbalist – is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.

Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.

xxxxxxx

 

Cryogenicist Dr Georgette Watson has mastered the art of bringing frozen hamsters back to life. Now what she really needs is a body to confirm her technique can save human lives.

Meanwhile, in New York City, winter is closing in and there’s a killer on the loose, slaying strangers who seem to have nothing in common. Is it simple good fortune that Georgette, who freelances for the NYPD, suddenly finds herself in the company of the greatest detective of all time? And will Sherlock Holmes be able to save Dr Watson in a world that has changed drastically in 200 years, even if human nature has not?

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Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’.

But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead.

From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.

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You’ll never see a wasp in the same way again …

When Beth’s marriage ends, she’s determined to build a new life in the country for herself and her children. A quiet life lived closer to nature. She thinks she’s achieved the impossible – a civilised separation, a happy home and a cordial relationship with her estranged husband, Mark. There’s even the promise of new love on the horizon. But when Mark tries to change the rules, Beth’s peaceful world is turned upside down.

Disturbingly, she also discovers that European wasps have invaded her garden. Beth’s obsession with them and their queen holds up a distorted mirror to the human drama. As the chaos in Beth’s life gathers momentum, connections between the two worlds come sharply into focus. The lives of Beth and the others are neither separate to, nor safe from, the natural world.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Review: Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson


Title: Either Side of Midnight

Author: Benjamin Stevenson

Published: 1st September 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read September 2020, PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“How can it be murder when the victim pulled the trigger?”

I somehow overlooked Benjamin Stevenson’s debut novel, Greenlight, shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction in 2018, which introduces true crime documentary producer, Jack Quick, but i was intrigued by the premise of Either Side of Midnight, and assured it could stand on its own.

It seems events in Greenlight didn’t go particularly well for Jack Quick. When he is introduced in Either Side of Midnight, Jack is in prison on multiple charges related to perverting the course of justice. Just before his release, he is visited by the identical twin brother of a TV presenter who had recently shot himself live on air. Despite the suicide being witnessed by millions of viewers, Harry Midford is convinced his brother was murdered, and offers Jack a substantial sum to prove it. Jack, who has his issues with his own brother, reluctantly agrees to investigate and begins by poking around the studio where ‘Mr Midnight’ was filmed and Sam killed himself. What he learns piques his interest, and as he digs deeper, Harry’s claim doesn’t seem so outlandish after all.

Inspired in part by a recent-ish landmark case in the US involving the use, or rather misuse, of technology, Stevenson presents a creative and intriguing plot, with an original twist on the ‘locked room’ mystery. I thought the storyline of Either Side of Midnight was very clever, I generally had no idea how the plot would unravel until the moment Stevenson intended it, with red herrings deftly distracting from the culprit and their motive. The action ramps up as Jack grows closer to understanding why Sam died, culminating in a exciting confrontation.

I do feel that in not having reading Greenlight, I may have missed some of the nuances of Jack’s character. He is certainly an interesting protagonist, with a unique vice. Traditionally male crime solvers tend to be alcoholics, or womanisers, or handy with their fists, or all three, Jack is bulimic. In Jack’s case the eating disorder was triggered in early adolescence by his brother’s accident, and I think the author’s representation of his illness, and his relationship with his brother, is portrayed sensitively.

Though Either Side of Midnight is set on Australia’s east coast, I didn’t think there was really a strong sense of place, which was a tiny bit disappointing.

An entertaining thriller with a complex lead and an original plot, I enjoyed Either Side of Midnight and I’ve added Greenlight to my WTR list.

+++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman


Title: Anxious People

Author: Fredrik Backman (Translated by Neil Smith)

Published: 8th September 2020, Atria Books

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Atria Books/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

I don’t know how it is that Fredrik Backman can write such wildly divergent stories with unique characters that nevertheless have all managed to make me both laugh and cry. Backman’s debut novel, A Man Called Ove was a favourite book in 2014, and My Grandmother Asked me to Tell You She’s Sorry in 2015. Anxious People may well be a favourite of 2020.

“This is a story about a bank robbery, an apartment viewing, and a hostage drama. But even more it’s a story about idiots. But perhaps not only that.”

Definitely not ‘only that’. Backman later adds this is also a story about bridges, rabbits, and love, about all of us doing the best we can, but really, truly, Anxious People is a story about humanity.

Life is messy, sometimes we make mistakes. In Anxious People, the bank robber’s first mistake is trying to rob a bank, and the second is (unintentionally) taking a bunch of people in an apartment hostage, though perhaps, as things go, that was not a mistake as such.

“The bank robber looked at each of them in turn for a long time. Then… whispered gratefully: “Worst hostages ever.”

The hostages are a motley, quirky collection of characters that initially perhaps present as irritating idiots but whom, by the time they are released, are endearing idiots, much as our first impression of the bank robber is of a dangerous idiot, but in the end is simply an overwhelmed idiot.

“They may not have had much in common, but they all knew what it was like to make a mistake.”

Anxious People is both wise and insightful, absurd and poignant. It explores a variety of themes including desperation, grief, compassion, relationships, capitalism, regret, connection and hope. It raises issues like divorce, parenting, religion, and suicide.

“We do our best. We save those we can.”

Anxious People is a comedy, a tragedy, a mystery and a wonderfully told story.

“The truth? The truth about all this? The truth is that this was a story about many different things…”

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster US

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound I HiveUK

 

Also by Fredrik Backman reviewed at Book’d Out 

 

 

 

 

Review: Her Last Words by Kim Kelly

Title: Her Last Words

Author: Kim Kelly

Published: 7th July 2020, JazzMonkey Publications

Read: September 2020 courtesy the author

++++++

My Thoughts:

Her Last Words is a stunning contemporary novel from Australian author Kim Kelly, best known for her works of historical fiction.

Seven years after young aspiring writer Thisbe Chisholm stormed out of her boyfriend’s Bondi flat after a petty argument in the early hours of the morning, the coroner’s inquest into her murder decisively exonerates John, but does little else. Stuck firmly in the grip of guilt and depression, John’s bright future as an actor has long since dimmed, and even Penny, Thisbe’s best friend and his stalwart supporter, seems to have reached her limit. Perhaps it’s time to let go…

Kelly was inspired by personal events to create this literary gem. Her Last Words is a heartfelt, poignant story, which explores the themes of love, grief, release and redemption.

While unfolding from multiple perspectives, John and Penny are the central protagonists of the story. Since Thisbe’s tragic death the two have never quite been able to let go, of her, or each other. The coronial inquest serves as a catalyst as John contemplates ending everything, and Penny considers finally moving on.

Fate gives Penny, a book editor, a push when a local bookstore owner discovers Thisbe’s long missing bag and manuscript, prompting the unraveling of not one, but two crimes, and placing Penny on a deserved new path.

John comes very close to getting his wish, just as he realises it’s not really what he wants. Kelly’s insight into John’s depression is thoughtful and empathetic as he struggles both mentally and physically, haunted by his last moments with Thisbe.

With exceptional characterisation, eloquent prose, and raw emotion, Her Last Words is a compelling read this review can’t begin to do justice.

++++++

Available from all major online retailers worldwide, in print, ebook and audio.

 

Also reviewed at Book’d Out by Kim Kelly

 

Blog Tour Review: The Bush Telegraph by Fiona McArthur

Title: The Bush Telegraph

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: 1st September 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read September 2920, courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Reader’s familiar with The Baby Doctor, will be delighted to discover Fiona McArthur’s The Bush Telegraph features Maddy Locke, the young woman who gave birth in an abandoned storefront while hiding from her abusive boyfriend, in this lively, heartwarming and absorbing rural romance novel.

Set eleven years later, Maddy and her daughter, Bridget, have returned to the small outback town of Spinifex where Maddy, who has since earned a host of nursing qualifications, is to manage the local medical centre. Hoping to banish the ghosts of her past, and make a life for herself and Bridget among the wide open spaces, Maddy is determined to rise to the challenge of providing quality health care to the region and support the revitalisation of the struggling remote community in the memory of her late adopted mother, and former town publican, Alma.

Romance is the last thing on Maddy’s mind, her trust in men having been eroded by her disastrous relationship with Bridget’s father, but meeting attractive station owner Connor Fairhall challenges that. Though wary of the single father who seems to be the subject of disturbing rumours, and whose son, Jayden, appears set on causing trouble, Connor proves to be an unexpected temptation for Maddy. I really liked the way in which McArthur developed the relationship between the two protagonists, particularly with respect to their backgrounds, and I thought their friendship blossomed into romance, with convincing chemistry, nicely.

While the romance is integral to the plot of The Bush Telegraph, McArthur explores several important themes and issues within the story. There are characters facing various problems including alcohol addiction, financial pressures, abandonment, domestic abuse, betrayal and grief. The community itself is showing signs of neglect, with struggling businesses, vacant storefronts, and a dwindling population.

The challenges of providing medical care in a remote location like Spinifex are made clear by McArthur as she details Maddy’s varied nursing tasks in the clinic, which include providing emergency treatment to a walk-in heart attack patient and a child in diabetic crisis, setting broken bones and stitching cuts, and caring for a woman in pre-term labour. Drawing on her own experience working in remote regions as a midwife, McArthur highlights the need for remote health workers to be well resourced and capable of handling a range of situations, the importance of back-up being available in an emergency, and most dramatically, what it means when the life in your hands is your own child’s. I was so affected by one incident involving Maddy providing life-saving treatment, I found myself wiping away a tear or two.

With its engaging characters, captivating drama, and heartfelt emotion, The Bush Telegraph is a wonderful read, sure to appeal to fans of the contemporary rural genre. I think it’s her best yet.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

 

Also by Fiona McArthur reviewed at Book’d Out

 

 

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