A Novel of Australia
Story of two women, mother and daughter, who worked as nurses in the far Outback during the late 1800\’s and early 1900\’s. The first woman, Alix MacFarlane, was eager to study nursing even though her well-to-do parents frowned on it- nursing wasn\’t considered a proper occupation for a lady then. She worked where she was needed in a few different remote areas, until fell in love and married. Then went to live with her husband\’s family on the father-in-law\’s cattle station. Where the livestock did poorly because of harsh conditions but the old man never wanted to give up. Still very much invested in nursing even though she didn\’t have a post, Alix started holding a clinic for the Aborignal people who lived or worked around the station- especially the children- which her mother-in-law really disapproved of. The second half of the book is mostly about Alix\’s daughter Caro (short for Caroline) who grows up on the cattle station then goes away to school and also becomes a nurse. And a pilot, when planes were new, relatively fragile things and women weren\’t expected to do such dangerous jobs. She becomes part of the Flying Doctor service, travelling back and forth across Australia to get medical care to injured and sick people living remotely. Reading about all that, and the medical cases (although they were very briefly detailed) was interesting. I also learned quite a bit about Australia and its landscape, how badly Aboriginal peoples were treated, and the country\’s involvement in wartime. The story overlaps both World Wars- affecting the characters very personally. This novel has a lot- medical crises, wartime, some romance, plane crashes, adventures, and just plain living. I was surprised at how common it seemed in this book for married couples to live apart- doctors living away from their wives for years on end, or how Alix traveled from the cattle station to a proper town when it was time for Caro to be born (so the father first saw his baby when it was several months old). I liked this book- and yet I just didn\’t care much about the characters. Some were nice decent people, others quirky or interesting, but the writing was just rather plain- lots of tell instead of show- so even when on occasion someone in the book died, I felt very little reaction. I\’m glad I read it but don\’t think it will merit a repeat.