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1 July 2015

Review & Guest Post: 'A Country Practice' by Judith Colquhoun (2015)

It’s 1981 and a desperate woman arrives at the Wandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital in the final stages of labour. Can Dr Terence Elliott overcome his demons to save both mother and baby? 

Simon Bowen, the newest doctor in town, is frustrated at being seen as an outsider by the tight knit country folk. Will he succeed in winning them around ‒ especially young vet Vicky Dean? 

Vicky’s mum, Sister Shirley Dean, is courted by widowed police sergeant Frank Gilroy. But is he the man for her? 

Brendan and Molly Jones arrive in Wandin Valley. Are they prepared for the realities of country life? 

Meanwhile, a teenager in love clashes with her father and a serious car accident reveals a surprising secret about two of the town’s residents.

Today I have a review of the first part of an exciting new book series from Corazon Books to share with all of you! 'A Country Practice' was an award-winning and international hit TV series years ago which focused on the community of Wandin Valley in New South Wales, Australia, in the 1980s. One of the writers of the show, Judith Colquhoun, decided to bring the series back to life but in a new form, namely as a collection of books. The first part of the book series, 'New Beginnings', was released on the 12th of June and I was lucky enough to get a review copy. You can not only read my review below, but also a special guest post from Ian Skillicorn from Corazon Books to tell us a bit more about the original TV show on which the book is based!

'A Country Practice: New Beginnings' is the first part of a book series set in the 1980s in the town of Wandin Valley in New South Wales, Australia. Like every other town, all the inhabitants have their own stories to tell and secrets to hide. There's new doctor Simon Bowen, who is trying to find his place at Wandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital, while also trying to win over charming vet Vicky Dean. Brendan and Molly Jones have just moved into the area, living the dream of having their own farm house. However, Brendan has some crazy working hours as a nurse at the hospital and Molly starts to doubt their decision realising she's alone in a strange house most of the time. And when two of the town's inhabitants are involved in a serious car crash, things get even more exciting and surprising for the residents of Wandin Valley.

Before I received a review copy of Judith Colquhoun's 'A Country Practice: New Beginnings' I have to admit I didn't know anything about the TV series the book is based on. Luckily, this didn't form a problem because I was able to just dive into the story without any prior knowledge. The story is set in a town in Australia in the 1980s and focuses mainly on the town hospital. There are a lot of different characters who each have their own storyline and I personally really enjoyed the fast pace of the book and the switching between the different storylines. All characters had something interesting to share, resulting in an entertaining and enjoyable read. My personal favourites, though, are young vet Vicky Dean and married couple Molly and Brendan who have just moved to the area. I immediately warmed to these characters and can't wait to hopefully read more about them in the upcoming parts of the book series.

While the book is easy to get into and comfortable to read, I do think it shines through that the story is based on a TV show. Some scenes are described like made-for-TV situations and I definitely would have liked a bit more background information on the different characters; their histories, their personalities, etc. Even though I missed the detail in places, it was still a really enjoyable read and I am already curious about what will happen in the next part of the series! Overall, ‘A Country Practice’ is an enthralling, entertaining, fast-paced read that managed to hold my attention until the very last page; a promising start to this new series!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Guest post by Ian Skillicorn

I'm really happy to have a special guest post to share with all of you today from Ian Skillicorn from Corazon Books in which he tells us a bit more about 'A Country Practice'!

Welcome to Australia's Best-Loved Country Town
For more than ten years, millions of viewers were glued to their TVs each week to see the latest episodes in the lives and loves of a small Australian country town. The action in A Country Practice centred on the Wandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital, the doctors and nurses who worked there, and the local townsfolk. The programme was a hit because of its mixture of drama and comedy, and the likeable characters who became well-loved around the world. This was long before Neighbours and Home and Away had arrived on our screens and when, here in the UK, daytime telly consisted of a stream of popular Aussie soaps.

Like Doctors and Holby City/Casualty today, A Country Practice combined the ongoing stories of the regular characters with guest characters who would leave after their storyline was resolved. Regular cast members included Shane Withington and Georgie Parker (who now play John and Roo in Home and Away), and some of the guests were young actors who went on to international fame, such as Nicole Kidman, Simon Baker and Delta Goodrem. But it wasn't just the people on the show who became hugely popular. According to our Facebook page it seems one of the best-remembered stars was the wombat called Fatso!

Corazon Books has been publishing popular medical fiction for a while now, and I was delighted when the creator of A Country Practice gave us a licence to publish a series of novels based on the programme. Shortly afterwards, I was thrilled when one of the show's original scripwriters, Judith Colquhoun, agreed to write the novels. For the first novel, A Country Practice: New Beginnings, we've gone right back to the start of the story, to introduce readers to the inhabitants of Wandin Valley.

A Country Practice is set in the early 1980s in what now seems, in some respects, a gentler time – before the internet and mobile phones had taken over our lives. But the issues faced by the characters are just as relevant to us today: love and hate, family and friends, life and death, secrets and lies – it's all there!

When I was a schoolboy I would record A Country Practice (shown in the afternoons) during the day on our video recorder, and watch it in the evening while I did my homework. [Ahem] years later … it's a great privilege to be part of this new chapter in the life of an Australian television institution. I hope you'll enjoy your visit to Wandin Valley and meeting the engaging characters whose lives revolve around A Country Practice.

Thanks so much, Ian!

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