Another overlong Australian saga by the author of All the Rivers Run (1977) and Forefathers (1983). Alix MacFarlane, only daughter of a wealthy pre-WW I society family in Adelaide, wants to become a nurse instead of marrying as her mother insists. To her mother's horror, Alix not only completes her nurse's training but volunteers for a position in a minuscule clinic in the Queensland outback. Sometime later, she marries a handsome cattleman she once treated at the clinic; moves to her in-laws' ranch, where she sets up a clinic for the blacks who live nearby; and eventually gives birth to a baby girl whom she nicknames Caro. When Jim is killed in WW I, Alix, brave and independent as any other Cato protagonist, remains determined to continue as a nurse. As she does so--in Adelaide and in the outback--Caro grows up to turn her own fascination with aircraft into a career as a pilot for the newly formed Flying Doctors program. The remainder of this lengthy, episodic story centers on Caro's nursing adventures in the center of Australia and her passionate affair with the married doctor she transports to various sickbeds. Finally, Alix dies from a shrapnel wound during the bombing of an Adelaide clinic during WW II--and Caro, saddened but of course still brave, flies to Adelaide with the baby she's had by the married doctor (who has since divorced his wife), to settle down as a wife and mother. Despite interesting details about Australia's history and the hard life of the outback, the reader's interest is allowed to drift through the long haul all too often. In the end, the tone is as flat and dry as the Australian desert.