All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Desert Midwife by Fiona McArthur

on July 31, 2019

The Desert Midwife
Fiona McArthur
Penguin Random House AUS
2019, 320p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

What if the love of your life forgot who you were?

When outback midwife Ava May meets Zac on a flight to Alice Springs, they tumble into a whirlwind affair. But an exciting adventure leads to a terrible accident, with shattering consequences. The couple who had so much going for them now find themselves with everything to lose.

Devastated, Ava retreats to her family cattle station to help salvage what she can of the critical situation. But at home on the drought-ridden farm, her brother is being pushed to his limits, and as his depression intensifies, Ava must step in to prevent another family tragedy.

Against the majestic backdrop of Australia’s Red Centre, old dreams are shattered, new babies are born and true love takes flight.

By Australia’s renowned midwife and bestselling author of Mothers’ Day, The Desert Midwife is a romantic drama about strong women, medical miracles and new beginnings.

I really enjoy Fiona McArthur’s books, she’s an auto-read author for me already and that was before I realised that this book contains amnesia which is one of my favourite tropes! I picked up an eBook of this because it had that ‘I want to read it right now’ feel about it and read it right then I did.

Ava is a midwife who also occasionally gets pulled into other departments like emergency when they’re short staffed. She’s on her way back to Alice Springs from a conference in Sydney when she meets Zac on the plane. They’re seated beside each other and there’s a huge amount of chemistry between them. Their one night stand was supposed to be just that – except they end up working together pretty much right after it. It becomes much more until an accident, after which Zac doesn’t have any memory of Ava. The last few months have been wiped from his memory.

I really liked so much about this. The setting is amazing – rural Northern Territory in and around Uluru as well as some of the surrounding areas. Both Zac and Ava have worked in some remote places and they have a lot in common in their jobs in the medical field. There’s a lot of really interesting stuff about Ava’s midwifery, especially as she delivers a lot of babies for the local Indigenous women. I found that really supportive and sympathetic of their wishes, particularly that their babies be born ‘on country’ ie on their tribal lands. It’s obvious that McArthur (who is a midwife) is very knowledgeable and has researched or experienced extensively what it is like to deliver babies in rural areas, when there are other contributing factors as well, particularly women who may not trust local care providers. Ava works very hard to establish that trust with the local women and to listen to them without compromising the level of care she can provide. There’s a couple of really interesting descriptions of how to handle a particular birth in here and it was so good to read this. Since I had my own babies I read birthing scenes differently and I feel like you can definitely tell when one has been written from the point of view of someone who has a lot of not only just medical knowledge, but understanding of people.

This book made me really want to visit Uluru. It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for years but now I’ve actually started planning a trip there (probably 2021). I’m not interested in climbing it, never have been, for me it would just be about experiencing it and the local area, seeing it at sunrise and sunset, doing the walk around the base and hopefully learning a lot about the local people and their way of life. Climbing it will be outlawed in October of this year anyway (which I feel is a positive thing). Uluru is a huge presence in this book – Ava’s family farm is located only a short distance away and it forms a rather important part of the journey of Ava and Zac.

The family farm also forms an important part of the narrative as it’s where Ava and Zac recuperate after their accident. Times are hard on the farm and Ava’s brother Jock is feeling the pressure in many ways. This was a very sympathetic exploration of the difficulties farmers face when it just won’t rain. Jock is full of self doubt and it manifests in really serious ways. Despite having two medical professionals living there, who both notice that he’s struggling, even they fail to see just how serious and advanced the situation is. I think as a city person who has never truly lived rural, it’s very difficult to properly understand the pressures and expectations placed on people who farm the land for their living. So much of what they do is reliant on something they cannot change or predict in the weather and just a few weeks out on predictions can really change things on a huge scale. I hadn’t thought about the logistics of farming in such an area before and the daily routines were quite fun to read about as well as the challenges, types of livestock, etc. The only thing I feel about this particular aspect of the story is that I would’ve liked a bit more in depth of the ‘after’. I know it isn’t Jock’s story but it was quite serious and I feel as though it warranted just a bit more exploration and attention at the end.

A good, solid read that rekindled my interest in Uluru. The setting and locations were my favourite part – the romance was okay but I did struggle to really get on board with the swiftness of it all, it just seemed a little too rushed for me, particularly just because of who Zac and Ava were, the types of people that they were. It wasn’t super jarring or enough to stop me enjoying the book, but I’m just not sure I was as invested in them as a couple as I could’ve been.


Book #114 of 2019

The Desert Midwife is book #53 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

One response to “Review: The Desert Midwife by Fiona McArthur

  1. […] The Desert Midwife by Fiona McArthur. My review. […]

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