Aussie Book Review: The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthur
“Moving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie's life forever.
After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it's time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.
Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and has opened her homestead to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.
The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .
A heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion in the outback from internationally bestselling author Fiona McArthur.”
Fiona McArthur first appeared on my radar with the publication in 2014 of her first contemporary fiction novel , Red Sand Sunrise (my review here). Now, whenever I feel like journeying to the ochre and brown glory of the outback with its special brand of people, I know she’ll take me there.
Told mainly through the eyes of her characters, Billie, a doctor, looking for somewhere that she can raise Mia (her teenaged daughter) without the dangers of city living and one that she can at last call home; Daphne, a nurse who has had her own fair share of life’s hard knocks; and Soretta who is battling to keep her grandfather’s station afloat in the wake of a farm accident, Fiona gives us five strong women who bring to life the remote areas of Australia and its people, showing us how they go out of their way to help one another even when they themselves are facing hardship.
Drawing on her extensive medical experience, Fiona also highlights the importance of the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) and the significant part they play in servicing those areas where our remote counterparts’ very lives depend on them.
Whilst balancing the story with the private lives of her characters who seek so much more than merely existing and the drought which has stricken so many of our farmers, The Homestead Girls provides a rare look into the everyday lives of our RFDS doctors, nurses and pilots and I particularly enjoyed the insight she gives into the tasks that these Angels of the sky carry out on a daily basis.
Ultimately two sweet love stories with a hint of suspense set against the backdrop of Broken Hill and its surrounds, Fiona weaves the colours of the outback into an inspirational and tender-hearted story about life-affirming friendship, outback community life and love in the open skies of Australia.
I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.
About the Author
Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia.
Fiona's love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She's been a midwifery expert for Mother & Baby magazine and is the author of the non-fiction works The Don't Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents.
She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She's constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.
A Little About the RFDS
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world. Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, it delivers extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel throughout Australia.
The RFDS is a not-for-profit organisation. While supported by the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, the RFDS relies heavily on fundraising and donations from the community to purchase and medically-equip its aircraft, and to finance other major capital initiatives. Today, the RFDS has a fleet of 63 aircraft operating from 21 bases located across the nation and provides medical assistance to over 290,000 people every year – that’s one every two minutes.
If you would like to know more about supporting this much-needed organisation, please go here.