Colleen McCullough’s novel An Indecent Obsession is emotionally raw tale told with restraint and respect.
The story begins as World War II is about to end for men in Australian military hospital “troppo” ward who broke under the stresses of jungle warfare.
Nurse Honour Lantry has just five men left in ward X: Neil, their leader, whom Honour thinks she might like to know better post-war; blind Matt; hypochondriac Nugget; sadistic Luce Daggett, who scares her; and severely withdrawn Ben Maynard, the only one Honour thinks really belongs in a mental hospital.
The men call her “Sis.”
All except Luce respect and adore her.
The group’s dynamic is upset when Sergeant Michael Wilson appears at the ward. Compared to the others, Mike is obviously normal.
Honour can’t figure him out. His paperwork says he had a violent crisis; he says he tried to kill a man.
Honour, having served in the field for the entire war, is emotionally exhausted. She allows herself to feel unprofessional interest in Mike, which provokes a crisis.
McCullough relates the story from Honour’s perspective but with a degree of distance that refuses to let Honour be exonerated when she misinterprets what her senses perceive.
Indecent Obsession is an unforgettable story.
An Indecent Obsession
by Colleen McCullough
Harper & Row. ©1981. 317 p.
1981 bestseller #4. My grade: A
© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni