James Avery decided to volunteer for a job with the British overseas aid programme at the relatively late age of 34 when he was still a junior doctor at the level of senior registrar, so was well on the path of promotion to consultant in a couple of years. It was at one of those times when there was considerable malaise among so-called junior doctors and since he had missed out on being given an elective period overseas early in his career on the grounds that he was the editor of the Hospital Gazette, he decided against the advice of all his consultants to accept a three-year consultant post on a remote island in the South Pacific out of a sense of idealism and adventure.
Unfortunately when he arrived with his French wife and two young daughters, his romantic dream of a tropical paradise was rather shattered by the fact that no one at the Ministry of Health was expecting him and all his personal belongings were being sent by sea and had not yet arrived. The family was given a squalid government bungalow at the end of a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of the capital city, which was on the wet side of the island and it seemed to rain incessantly. After a spectacular sunset at 6pm there was darkness and, with no TV, no music and initially no friends, James decided to write a novel about a deliberate act of negligence on the part of an arrogant surgeon who aimed to humiliate a junior doctor and who then used his connections in the corridors of power to cover up the disaster.
That was 47 years ago and for the reasons described above, it stayed in the bottom of James’s wardrobe until the Covid-19 gave him the opportunity to resuscitate it and almost completely rewrite it. Rather than go through the humiliation of rejection by established publishers again, he decided to take it down the path of self-publication.
When you read this book, you will realise that it takes place in a very different age from the one that we are going through at the moment. You will be amazed at the difference in the behaviour of junior doctors in the so-called Swinging Sixties compared with the present time, but James’s description of those days is pretty accurate – and readers will learn almost from the first page, there was no such thing as political correctness…