Author: Kim Kelly
Published: February 20th 2020
Publisher: Jazz Monkey Publications
Genres: Fiction, Australian, Historical
Rating: 5 stars
A novel of love, war and kindness, inspired by a true story of medical genius and betrayal.
Sydney, 1948. Brilliant German surgeon, Hugo Winter, is dead, and his protégé, Lucy Brynne, is tasked with sorting his papers. Among them, Lucy finds glimpses of Hugo’s past that paint a disturbing picture of war and prejudice – a portrait of Australia she can barely recognise.
That same week, an intriguing patient comes into her care on the orthopaedic ward at Sydney Hospital: one Mr Jim Cleary. Lucy’s experience as an army physiotherapist, as well as her own very personal knowledge of pain, tell her there’s more to this man’s fractured leg than meets the eye.
As she pieces together who Jim Cleary really is and the truth behind his injury, she not only falls for his laconic charm, but discovers the rival surgeon who relentlessly persecuted Hugo – a man who will shatter Jim’s life completely now, unless Lucy can stop him.
‘You’ll be brilliant at whatever you choose to do, Lucy Brynne.’
Walking, the latest production from Kim Kelly, is a story the author personally attests to having carried in her heart for a long time. The passion, dedication and sheer craft of this novel shows in every corner. Walking is a true historical triumph, shining a light on medical advances, inequality, the impact of war, oppression, love and ambition. It is stunning addition to the Kim Kelly historical fiction collection.
Kim Kelly’s Walking introduces surgeon Hugo Winter, a man of German descent and a pioneer in the Australian medical industry. Hugo’s legacy is felt years later by an up and coming female doctor, Lucy Brynne. When Hugo passes away, Lucy is compelled to investigate her mentor’s past, which brings to light a time of sacrifice, injustice and war. When Lucy crosses paths with Jim Cleary, a patient on her ward, she learns a thing or two from this man and his case. But Jim’s case brings to light the work of an enemy, a man who negatively impacted her late mentor’s life. As Lucy begins to piece together the puzzle of Hugo’s past, she is shocked beyond belief. Lucy knows that she cannot let this same man shatter Jim’s life too, a man she now cares greatly for. This is the powerful tale, drawn from a real life figure and his inspiring life, highlighting a time in our not too distant past where bigotry, oppression, injustice, sacrifice, stoicism and ambition reigned supreme.
Walking affords the reader with an opportunity to take stroll back into the past, a time where Australia was forging ahead in areas such as research and health care, but it was also defined by unfair policies, ignorant thinking, strict social codes and injustice. Kim Kelly lays out many of these these contradictions in her new novel. As always, Kelly has honed in on her focal subject matter and she has presented her readership with a meticulous novel that is historically well placed and extremely well informed. Take note of the enthralling Author Note as the end of this book, it really is a treat for historical fiction fans.
The characters guiding us through Kim Kelly’s Walking are inspirational and true trail blazers. From Hugo Winter, to his protégé Lucy and heroic Jim, Kelly has concocted a great set of protagonists to lead her tale, one of which is drawn from a real life figure. There are friends and extreme foes in this tale, that help to elevate this novel to great heights. There is strong emotion that is felt on every page, which is portrayed with skill and intuition by the author. I really enjoyed stepping in the shoes of the characters as they faced many challenges, oppositions, obstacles and triumphs. The medical areas are fascinating as well as informative, especially in Doctor Winter’s field. Meanwhile, there is a good interrogation of mental incapacity and post traumatic stress disorder following the aftermath of the wars. Walking really is an involving tale and Kelly delves deep into a precarious time in Australia’s yesteryear. We learn from Kelly’s Walking that this was a time defined by not one but two wars, loss, economic downtown, oppressive government policies, societal prejudice, aspiration and the marginalisation of women.
A gentle sub strand of friendship, romance, support, genuine care and understanding underscores Walking and I appreciated the tone of this love story. In addition, I loved the working relationship between the great doctor and his charge, it was a respectful, as well as realistic bond. The loyalty and compassion shown by these characters at different points really does restore your faith in humanity. It also gives the reader hope, that it is possible to triumph above adversity and achieve your dreams. I valued the final newspaper snippet at the close of this story, it was the perfect end to a compelling story.
Walking is an ardent story, penned by a leading specialist in the Australian historical fiction field. The compelling voices that follow this novel and the trials they endure will be sure to leave a lasting imprint on your heart and mind.
Walking by Kim Kelly was published on February 20th 2020 by Jazz Monkey Publications. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Walking, Kim Kelly visit here.
*I wish to thank the author, Kim Kelly, for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Walking is book #51 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge