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A novel of searing emotional truth, told with the relentless pull of a thriller, from the award-winning creator of Offspring.



The Family Doctor springs from my anguish about violence against women. So many of us feel furious and heartbroken and helpless when we hear that yet another woman and her kids have been killed. Sometimes we rave about it to each other, other times we sit alone with the rage burning in our bellies.

I wasn’t sure how to tackle this territory without it becoming something tabloid or obvious or worthy—until I came up with a fictional story that I hope can carry some of that intense feeling. It’s inspired by real stories—some from my sister who’s a GP, some from lawyer friends, others I’ve researched.

The Family Doctor is a kind of transgressive daydream—what if we just killed a few of those monstrous bastards? I think there’s imaginative satisfaction in the fantasy and, to an extent, a reader can indulge that dark urge as they follow the arc of the main character, Paula Kaczmarek. But at the same time the story is about the moral danger in her choice and the limits of it to address the problem.

My aim was to give the novel the propulsive forward momentum of a thriller but without gimmicks or puzzles or withholding information in a tricksy way. I hope readers will stay hooked because characters they care about are under pressure and they want to know what the hell is going to happen next.

It’s important to me that the story always stays grounded in authentic emotion. The characters end up doing extreme things—such as committing murder—but they’re real people. Paula and her friend Anita could be any one of us. I think that means the moral dilemmas can land more sharply in a reader’s mind. What would I do in that situation? How would I feel afterwards? Would I dob in my friend in a situation like this?

Alongside the dark stuff, I’ve tried to keep a strong hold on the joyful and precious things that are at stake—friendship, the existence of supportive, tender relationships between men and women, the urge to protect vulnerable people, the glory of small children.

With The Family Doctor, I wanted to tell a story that matters, urgently, and make it a cracking good story, an addictive, emotionally real piece of fiction.

All the best

Debra Oswald


About the book

Paula is a dedicated suburban GP who is devastated by the murder of a friend and her children by their estranged husband and father. Stacey and the children had been staying with her after fleeing his control, and Paula is haunted by the thought that she couldn’t protect them when they most needed it. How had she missed the warning signs? How had she failed to keep them safe?

Not long after, a patient with suspicious injuries brings her anxious young son into Paula’s surgery. The woman admits that her husband hurts her, but she’s terrified to leave for fear of escalating the violence, and defeated by the consistent failures of the law to keep them safe.

Can Paula go against everything she believes to make sure one woman is safe, one child? She isn’t motivated by revenge. She’s desperately trying to prevent a tragedy . . .

A riveting, provocative novel about women’s fury, traumatic grief, new love, deep friendship, and the preciousness of life, The Family Doctor asks the question:

Should you cling to faith in a flawed system, or take control the only way you can? Can a good person justify taking a life to save a life?


Early praise

‘Debra Oswald’s characters seized my hammering heart from the very first page of this riveting novel, and I felt every gram of the weight of Paula’s dilemma. If you love edge-of-the-seat suspense and gripping emotional truth, The Family Doctor will leave you breathless.’
Jane Palfreyman, Publisher

The Family Doctor is an absolute cracker with a terrific cast of compelling characters and an absorbing and fast-paced story that is impossible to stop reading. The dilemma at the novel’s centre is urgent, timely and thought-provoking. I loved it!’
Christa Munns, Senior Editor

‘A powerful novel about guilt and responsibility and what it takes to do the right thing. The Family Doctor will stay with you long after you’ve raced through the pages.’
Matt Hoy, Group Sales Director

‘Heartbreakingly brilliant, impossible to put down. Once you start The Family Doctor, you won’t want to leave Paula’s side.’
Karen-Maree Griffiths, Head of Field Sales & Trade Marketing

‘A rare, fine-cut gem: when a book is capable of being both serious and heartbreaking—and at the same time entertaining and witty—it is a testament to the deft hands of the writer who crafted it. With superb dialogue, a gripping and intensely readable plot, Deb’s work is many things at once, but most importantly, brilliant.’
Peri Wilson, Publicity Director

‘Compulsive reading, an incredible page-turner!’
Fleur Hamilton, Marketing Director



For your chance to receive one of ten advance reading copies of The Family Doctor, please email us at Allen & Unwin Marketing and tell us why you’d love to read it. For a sneak peek, click the banner below.





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