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

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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.

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Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

 

Also by Fiona McArthur reviewed at Book’d Out

 

 

Review: The Desert Midwife by Fiona McArthur

Title: The Desert Midwife

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: July 16th 2019, Michael Joseph

Status: Read July 2019, courtesy Penguin

++++++

My Thoughts:

There’s a lot to like about Fiona McArthur’s newest rural romance novel, The Desert Midwife.

Sparks fly when Outback midwife Ava May, and locum emergency doctor, Zac Logan meet on a flight to Alice Springs, and within the week both are considering the possibility of a shared future. Then a shocking accident robs Zac of his memory and with it perhaps, their dreams of happy ever after.

The Desert Midwife is set in The Northern Territory, moving between Alice Springs, Kata Tjuta, and Ava’s family cattle station, Setabilly, situated around 70km from Uluru.

While the romance is central to the novel, McArthur explores several social important issues in The Desert Midwife, from the difficulties associated with maternity care in remote areas, to the emotional and financial stress experienced by station owners affected by the extended drought, and the importance of Uluru to the Anangu, the Pitjantjatjara people.

Unfortunately it was the initial romance that I found largely unconvincing. While I’m willing to believe in the possibility of love at first sight, I found it hard to believe a man of Zac’s background, and circumstance, would really be willing to propose within a week, especially given the practical obstacles to the relationship.

I did like the characters of Ava and Zac though, and enjoyed the attraction between them. Ava’s mother, Stella, and grandmother Mim, are wonderful characters, both strong, interesting women. Jock, Ava’s brother, is sympathetic, struggling as he is with depression.

A story of strength, struggle, family and the miracle of love, The Desert Midwife is an engaging read.

Read an Excerpt

++++++

Available from Penguin Au

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#lovebetweenthepages

Also by Fiona McArthur reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Review: The Baby Doctor by Fiona McArthur

 

Title: The Baby Doctor

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: October 2nd 2017, Michael Joseph: Penguin

Status: Read June 2019, courtesy Penguin AU

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Readers familiar with Fiona McArthur’s Red Sand Sunrise will be delighted to reacquaint themselves with obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr. Sienna Wilson. While Sienna’s sister, Callie, and half sister, Eve, are settled in the Queensland outback, Sienna was always adamant the heat, dust and isolation was not for her, and at the beginning of The Baby Doctor, she is the Director of Obstetrics at a Sydney hospital, enjoying the benefits of her success.

Sienna is exasperated when outback matriarch, Blanche McKay, overrides her objections and insists that she personally investigate the cause of three newborns affected by microcephaly in a remote outback town, only marginally less so when she learns Sargeant Douglas McCabe, with whom she has enjoyed the occasional dalliance, is based there. Left with no choice, Sienna reluctantly heads to Spinifex, population 300, determined to solve the medical mystery, and return to her life in the city within the week.

Housed in the local pub, The Desert Rose owned by the indomitable Alma Toms, at Blanche’s expense, Sienna is eager to begin her investigation. While McCabe refuses to let Sienna stay in his police residence, concerned at least in part about propriety, he does allow her to set up an office in his spare room, and she hires Maddy, a young woman who works at the pub to assist her with administrative tasks for an hour or so a day.

Alma and Maddy become important characters in the story. Alma who is nearly 70, is a bit of a cliche, the tough publican with a heart of gold, but delightful all the same. Maddy is barely 21, and keeping a desperate secret from everyone she knows. Maddy proves to be an incredibly resourceful young woman despite the situation she is in, and her story, sensitively told by McArthur, sheds light on an important issue.

Sienna’s relationship with McCabe is complicated. Despite their strong attraction to one another (and McArthur nails the chemistry between them), they are such polar opposites and there seems no way for them to reconcile their differences. I do like the compromise they eventually reached though (and I hope McArthur might explore this new setting further).

Microcephaly is a rare birth disorder, but there are several possible causes which Sienna needs to eliminate. I found her sleuthing interesting, especially considering the challenges she faces due to factors such as distance. I also appreciate that McArthur brings to light issues in rural medicine. The actual cause, when Sienna solves the mystery, seemed a little melodramatic to me, though it’s clear McArthur did her research and the scenario is plausible, if not very likely.

A story of resilience, friendship, and love, The Baby Doctor is an appealing rural romance with an edge of drama and suspense.

Read an Excerpt

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Available from Penguin

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository