Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review - Surgeon's Mate by Linda Collison

Linda Collison’s sequel to Star Crossed is an excellent and well written nautical adventure which continues the exploits of the young surgeon’s mate, Patricia/Patrick MacPherson. In male guise, this brave and determined young woman is drawn into increasingly intriguing situations when she is forced to move from one ship to another.

In Surgeon’s Mate, the girl who ran away from England has matured, is more knowledgeable in her craft and more confident in her chosen role. Serving on various ships her performance of duty is both professional and convincing and her relationship with fellow seamen above and below decks provides an insight into life at sea in the eighteenth century.

At a time when medical practice was in its infancy, Collison uses her own medical knowledge appropriately and judiciously. And while the fear of a smallpox outbreak heralds disaster and surgical amputation often results in death, the sights and sounds surrounding the heeling operating table are realistically portrayed. For Patrick, the young surgeon, the challenge and desire to save lives is as keen as it is to a modern-day practitioner.

For me, the storyline of Surgeon’s Mate is more riveting than the introductory novel, my only disappointment was that the story ended fairly abruptly. But the hook is another reason to look forward to another story in this nautical series.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A lesson to be learned from the past

Remember the Koala who was burnt in the Bushfires of 2009. People around the world felt its pain. But in 1927 alone in Australia over 500,000 cuddly koalas were killed for their skins. And in 200 years of colonisation, hundreds of thousands of defenceless mammals and marsupials, like possums and platypus, have been killed while several native animals, like the thylacine were hunted to extinction.
In Tasmania, the colonialists not only wiped out the Aborigines who had inhabited the land for millennia, but almost wiped out its native animal populations.
But in their ‘wisdom’ the squatters introduced, FOXES for the sport of hunting, RABBITS for fur and food, SPARROWS to eat the insects, and BLACKBERRIES and Scotch THISTLES to remind them of Britain - to name but a few imported pests.

If I have learned nothing else from my course in Environmental History, it is that we should look to the mistakes of the past if we are going to cope with the future.