Recommended by the Reviewers Club

Under Her Skin, by Sue Williams

Cover of Under Her Skin, by Sue Williams.

Wow! Makes you proud to be a West Aussie and claim her as one of us. Australian of the Year, Australia’s Most Trusted Person for 6 years running and acclaimed as a National Living Treasure! She deserves every honour bestowed.

This biography details her life from childhood in a Yorkshire coal mining town where her parents dreamt and encouraged their children to rise out of the 5th generation coal mining background. They encouraged education success and sporting ability in all four children. Her mother, Elsie, said Fiona was different from the start, having a very easy birth, walking at 8 months, and a flower girl at 9 months! All the kids were told they could be anything they wanted to be but they couldn’t be average, they had to be the best they could be. Second place wasn’t the aim. She was a very good runner, but realised she wasn’t going to be an Olympian, so at 15 years, concentrated on her academic life, becoming first a doctor, a general surgeon, and then a plastic surgeon with a special interest in burns.

She met an Australian when studying for the surgery fellowship and they married three weeks later, without telling anyone. Her first pregnancy didn’t stop her, and she continued doing surgeries right up until a few days before giving birth. Juggling her professional life with having six children was to become the norm. They relocated to Perth in 1987 where Fiona fell in love with the sunshine, the beaches and the sea. Fiona had to deal with misogyny, but Harold Mc Comb became her mentor, and she fitted in clinical work and research around the increasing demands of a large family. The climax of all her study and work dealing with the Bali Bombing victims.

It’s a riveting read, but was repetitious, especially towards the end. More editing needed, perhaps – 100 pages less?

3.5/5 Stars