At the hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Bryce is learning to predict the worst. Racing heart: infection, probably malaria. He'll send Iris for saline. Shortness of breath? TB. Another patient rolled to the ward. And the round swellings, the rashes with dimpled centres, the small rough patches on a boy's foot? HIV. Iris will make him comfortable. They'll move on.
Then there will be sleeplessness, rationed energy, a censuring of hope: the doctor's disease. Iris sees that one all the time.
Henry Bryce has come to Blantyre to work off the grief he feels for his old life, but he can't adjust to the hopelessness that surrounds him. He relies increasingly upon Sister Iris's steady presence. Yet it's not until an accident brings them both to a village outpost that Bryce realizes the personal sacrifices Iris has made for her medical training, or that Iris in turn comes to fathom the depth of Henry's loss.
The Strength of Bone is the story of a Western doctor, a Malawian nurse, and the crises that push both of them to the brink of collapse. With biting emotion and a pathological eye for detail, novelist and medical doctor Lucie Wilk demonstrates how, in a place where knowledge can frustrate as often as it heals, true strength requires the flexibility to let go.
By Lucie Wilk