Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Book Review: As Swallows Fly by L. P. McMahon

 As Swallows Fly
L. P. McMahon


Publisher: Ventura Press
Publication date: 3rd March 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
When Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan, is savagely attacked, her face is left disfigured and her self-esteem destroyed. Haunted by the assault, she hides from the world, finding solace in her mathematical theories. A few years later, her intellectual brilliance is discovered and she leaves conflict-stricken Pakistan for a better education in Melbourne, where she finds herself placed with Kate—a successful plastic surgeon facing emotional insecurities of her own.
Malika and Kate’s lives slowly intertwine as they find within each other what each has lacked alone. At first, Kate’s skills appear to offer a simple solution to Malika’s anguish, but when tragedy strikes, the price of beauty is found to be much higher than either of them could have known.
As Swallows Fly is a poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection. In a captivating and unforgettable debut, McMahon asks what might be possible if we have the courage to be flawed.
My review
L. P. McMahon's debut novel As Swallows Fly is poignant and moving. McMahon uses perfection as the driving force behind this story of two women thrown together by circumstance, each finding their new friendship offering the emotional support they lacked.

Kate is a successful plastic surgeon spending her days saving limbs and saving lives. She is overworked and over stressed, always striving for perfection.
The medical procedures and hospital scenes are well described, believable and not overly technical. I wasn't surprised when I later read that the author has an extensive medical background.

Malika, orphaned at the age of 12, is taken to another village and raised as one of their own but when jealousy raises its head and Malika is savagely attacked it is decided she will be safer in Australia to continue her education.

I really enjoyed Malika's part  of the story. Her life in Pakistan was realistically described and I can imagine a village accepting a young orphan into their mix and bringing her up as their own. When Malika started teaching lessons to the other girls she was told to stop by the village elders but they also showed how proud they were of her academic achievements. 

McMahon has included themes of belonging, jealousy, secrets, moving on from the past, the pursuit of perfection and the importance of friendship.

From the life of a young girl in Pakistan to the rooms of the University of Melbourne deciphering theories and equations Malika's story is heart-breaking and awe inspiring.
Together Kate and Malika learn that an unlikely friendship can lead to healing and self acceptance.

5/5     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

L. P. McMahon was born in Melbourne. His writing career began as a medical student, and he has since won or been shortlisted for multiple national and regional short story competitions. He has travelled, lectured and published widely in his medical career, living and working in Oxford, Berlin, Pakistan, Newfoundland and New Zealand. He currently directs a busy medical department as Professor of Nephrology at Monash University. As Swallows Fly is his debut novel. 
Challenges entered:  Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21


  1. As Swallows Fly sounds very good, excellent review. As for the medical part, I can always appreciate it when an author knows what they are writing about.

    1. I don’t read the author’s bio until the end but I could see he knew what he was writing about.