As Swallows Fly is a captivating debut novel for Lawrence McMahon. He began writing while studying a Medical Degree and has had many short stories published. To combine the frantic world of medicine and surgeons with the village life and people from Pakistan is quite unusual. With clear and concise writing, McMahon makes each world come alive and we are transported to the well, or to the Theatre in a hospital. The story is set in Melbourne and Pakistan.
Kate is a plastic surgeon whose Mother has recently died leaving behind many issues between the Mother and daughter that Kate needs to put behind her to be able to move forward. Maliki is a Pakistani girl who was attacked by a violent young man which left her with left with a badly disfigured face. Her injuries are so severe they cannot be rectified without great risk and she now wears a veil to cover her face. She hides in her world of Mathematics and when she is invited to study in Melbourne she makes the decision move on with her life. An uncle of Kate’s is a Catholic Priest who asks her to look after Maliki while she studies for a time at the University in Melbourne.
Both the young women face issues. Maliki’s are to do with jealousy and racial abuse; Kate’s are related to jealousy and competition in the Hospital. The way the two women go about dealing with their circumstances brings them closer together. Each one is thoughtful and quietly determined.
The reader makes the comparisons between the two worlds and finds the similarities as interesting as the differences. Issues of accepting one’s flaws and accepting oneself are addressed. As Swallows Fly is an engrossing and powerful story portraying the price of courage while offering the option of being flawed in a perfection driven world.