- Allen & Unwin 2021
- ISBN 9-761750-877781
- 357 pages
Paula is a dedicated suburban GP, who is devastated by the murder of a friend and her children by their estranged husband and father. Stacey and the children had been staying with her after fleeing his control, and Paula is haunted by the thought that she couldn't protect them when they most needed it. How had she missed the warning signs? How had she failed to keep them safe?
Not long after, a patient with suspicious injuries brings her anxious young son into Paula's surgery. The woman admits that her husband hurts her, but she's terrified to leave for fear of escalating the violence, and defeated by the consistent failures of the law to help her.
Can Paula go against everything she believes to make sure one woman is saved, one child spared? She isn't motivated by revenge. She's desperately trying to prevent a tragedy . . .
A riveting, provocative novel about women's fury, traumatic grief, new love, deep friendship, and the preciousness of life, The Family Doctor asks the questions: Should you cling to faith in a flawed system, or take control the only way you can? Can a good person justify taking a life to save a life?
A very topical read given what is being discussed both in the Australian Parliament and elsewhere at present. Domestic violence is a community concern because it has such widespread social and economic consequences.
Finding her friend Stacey and her two lovely children already dead in her house and then watching Stacey's husband take his own life, has the effect of tipping the balance for Paula. She becomes much more aware of the signs of domestic violence which she sees in her work as a GP in a Sydney suburb. To be honest, Paula has not really recovered from the death of her own husband from cancer in the previous year.
In the months that follow Stacey's death Paula and her good friend Anita can't steer away from the issue of domestic violence, but Anita does not realise how it has affected Paula's thinking. They talk about how good it would be to rid the world of monsters, but neither imagine that they would take action themselves.
When the opportunity presents itself to actually rid the world of one monster Paula takes it, and everything else stems from there. In fact it all starts much earlier - in Paula's failure to protect Stacey and her children, in the failure of the legal/police system to protect them, or even to keep them informed.
An impressive novel.
My rating: 4.5
About the author
Debra Oswald is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist. She is a two-time winner of the NSW Premier's Literary Award and author of the novels Useful (2015) and The Whole Bright Year (2018). She was creator/head writer of the first five seasons of successful TV series Offspring. Her stage plays have been performed around the world and published by Currency Press. Gary's House, Sweet Road and The Peach Season were all shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award.
Debra has also written four plays for young audiences - Dags, Skate, Stories in the Dark and House on Fire. Her television credits include award-winning episodes of Police Rescue, Palace of Dreams, The Secret Life of Us, Sweet and Sour and Bananas in Pyjamas. Debra has written three Aussie Bites books for kids and six children's novels, including The Redback Leftovers, Getting Air and Blue Noise. Debra has been a storyteller on stage at Story Club and will perform her one-woman show, Is There Something Wrong With That Lady?, in 2021.