In this section I invite an inspirational guest reader to share a little about their life and their recent favourite book.
Ann Ward is a rural doctor who has spent her career working in the outback of Western Australia. Ann worked as a Flying Doctor in Meekatharra from 1989 to 1992, and since then as an Obstetric Rural GP based in Kununurra. Ann was born in Malaysia to a Chinese mother and an English father. At five years of age her family migrated to Australia and settled in Perth where Ann was educated and lived until her early twenties.
Ann is an inspiring woman on numerous counts, including her connection with wild places:
I have always had a love and a passion for wilderness, places where few people journey, places that require some skill to survive, places that are truly wild and beautiful and connect me to the earth. For me, that has meant places like the Himalaya, Antarctica and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I feel privileged to have spent time time there.
Tell us something you treasure about this aspect of your life.
I love stories. Every week for 23 years, as part of my work in Kununurra, I have flown in a light aircraft to the remote Warmun Aboriginal community in the East Kimberley as the Clinic doctor. I feel a strong bond with this community and feel grateful to have worked there. I have learnt much from this experience and I feel it is now a fundamental part of my own life story. I have shared happiness, laughs, grief, joy and stories with these Gija people and I am grateful for this privilege.
How about your recent favourite book?
History of the Rain by Niall Williams. I love this book. It is many stories, spanning four generations and is woven together with the forces of nature: the river, the rain. I was totally absorbed by the main character Ruth Swain, an intelligent, fundamentally optimistic and whimsical Irish teenager, recently bedridden by a blood disorder that threatens her life, but which affords her time to read avidly and to contemplate her life and the lives that came before her. She has a wonderful, optimistic, funny turn of phrase—Mrs Conheedy had a face as lumpy as a turnip and shoulders you can imagine her carrying sheep on—even at the saddest of times. She is strongly attached to her eccentric poet father and to her shining twin brother (who appears part way through the book) and whose demise profoundly changes all that she knows.History of the Rain is very well written, with Ruth using capital letters with gay abandon for emphasis. She predicts a Brilliant Career for me if I will only Trim Back.It is a lovely, poignant story that made me want to continue reading past its end.
A fine recommendation from my inaugural guest reader Ann Ward. If you find Ann’s own life story as inspirational as I do, read more about her in Outback Heroines by Sue Williams (Penguin, 2013).