Reviewed in Australia on 17 March 2020
Kim Kelly's newest offering Walking is written in two completely different perspectives. Firstly we have Lucy Brynne who tells us the story from her point of view, later in the story we also have Jim telling the story from his point of view, I really loved these chapters from the get go. The other chapters, Hugo Winter and the god-awful Eliot Slade are told from the point of view of a narator telling us their part of the story. I admit to taking a bit longer to get into this style of writing, but once I got used to it I was hooked.
I have to say, not much housework got done the weekend I read Walking thanks to Lucy, Jim, and Hugo (and the god awful Slade). I couldn't put Walking down. What fabulous tale Kim Kelly has told.
How angry Eliot Slade and the rest of the medical institution made me whilst reading this novel. How absolutely upset and angry I get when I read about the prejudices of people because of race or religion, especially when I hear about it happening in Australia. Things are obviously better now than they were in Lucy and Hugo's time, but there's still so much of it that goes on. I thank her for bringing these things to the forefront of people's minds, maybe it will make them look at how they behave now and how they allow this behaviour to continue to happen. Hmm slightly off track there, but that's what happens when I get onto a topic I'm passionate about.
Doctor Hugo Winter is a German sugeon who has immigrated to Australia after falling in love. He is a renowned and respected orthapedic surgeon in Germany and has an abrupt manner when dealing with those he finds stupid, I really enjoyed his quirky character which had so much passion and compassion underneath his abrupt and sometimes oblivious manner. Hugo Winter's character is fictional, but is based on the real life German-Australian surgeon Max Herz. To read more about Kim Kelly's inspiration behind Hugo click here. I really liked Hugo, and once I got used to the style his part of the story was written, I embraced him wholeheartedly. The way Hugo was treated during the war, the way most German-Australian's were treated, was just awful, as I mentioned above, and I can't for the life of me understand what makes people so prejudiced against those of a different race, especially those they have lived and worked beside for years.
I loved Lucy so much, I've been through the sexism she went through most of my working life, but like her I just kept my head down and kept on, for the most part. Lucy is a physiotheraspist, unusual for the 1940s, and she is not given the respect she deserves from the rest of the medical staff, and especially from the nursing staff. Lucy's journey from her disadvantaged childhood, her accident that required treatment from Doctor Hugo Winter, something that completely changed both of their lives, through to her life now as a physio, was a story I was completely invested in. Lucy spends a lot of time thinking and telling herself off in her head, and I could so relate to this, and where in some characters it can be annoying, I found this suited Lucy's character so well.
Jim was a great character too, I loved how Lucy and Jim complimented each other so well. From their first meeting in the hospital bed as Lucy's patient, you just know the relationship is going to become something more. Jim's accident turns out to be a blessing for many reasons and not just because of the love story between him and Lucy.
There were a couple of other characters worth mentioning, Anton, a friend and colleague of Hugo's was a wonderful character, I loved his quirks and his drive as much as I did Hugo's. Then we have our antagonist, the god-awful Eliot Slade, who had no redeeming features at all. He was a horrible, jealous individual, only out for himself, even his patients didn't matter, and what he puts Hugo through for decades is more than I would have been able to stand.
This is a story about grief, hope, dreams, love, prejudice, racism, sexism and more and I highly recommend it.