The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald. (2021).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
Paula is a dedicated suburban GP, who is devastated by the murder of her best friend Stacey as well as her two children by Stacey’s estranged husband. Stacey and the kids had been staying with her and Paula is haunted by the thought she couldn’t protect them. Not long after, a patient with suspicious injuries brings her anxious young son to Paula’s workplace. The woman admits her husband abuses her but is terrified to leave and the law has failed to protect her. Can Paula go against everything she believes to ensure that a woman and child are saved? She isn’t motivated by revenge, she’s desperately trying to prevent a tragedy…
If you haven’t already worked it out by the synopsis then I’ll make it clear, this one comes with a trigger warning in relation to domestic violence. It’s a confronting topic by any means and this novel describes many disturbing incidents. If you are able to read about this topic, then I highly recommend this compelling story. The novel starts immediately with the murder of Stacey and her children, who were living in Paula’s house at the time. It becomes clear very quickly that while Paula appears to be coping as best she can, it has seriously affected her and she is having extreme levels of guilt. In her role as a GP, she has contact with families suffering violence and is now questioning if it’s time for her to take serious action to protect these people… Paula and Stacey’s best friend, Anita, also has ongoing exposure through her employment as a crime reporter and is currently covering a case involving domestic violence. Without giving away spoilers, there’s certainly a lot of food for thought and I think this would make a great discussion novel for book clubs etc. I highly recommend this intense story which will no doubt provoke an emotional reaction from any reader.