Ann Fogarty & Anne Crawford
Forged With Flames
Wild Dingo Press, Melbourne, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0987178510

"This book is a ‘journey of honesty’ and because it is the reader will smile, be unsettled, admire and, perhaps most of all, have fresh confidence in the power of hope."

With 70 per cent of her body suffering third degree burns in Victoria's 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, survivor Ann Fogarty knows more than most how far love, faith, hope and will power can be stretched in the embrace of life.

Her story is candid and as she says it is one with no fairy tale ending but rather something better: ‘hope’.

The opening chapter uses two voices, Ann and her then six-year-old daughter Sarah, to effectively capture the surrealism of an event which raged over them and inalterably changed Ann physically, emotionally and spiritually through to today. Their total unpreparedness due to the fire’s speed, their too-late-urgency and Ann’s initial lack of awareness concerning what had happened to her are part of the decimated landscape of that day.

From the trauma of the fires, the reader is taken back to Ann’s childhood and former life. Events such as night terrors, standing up to a bully, athletics success and the birth of a relationship with God give insights into the woman who was now confronting the harrowing pain of horrific burns.

The blank canvas which was her life when she migrated to Australia as a young bride, with her Australian husband Terry, had been torched.

So begins the trauma of an extended stay in an intensive care unit. Ann’s account is intense and reflective. With survival instincts on high alert (she refuses sleeping pills at one stage), a world of drugs, pain and encroaching doubts take on the shape and impact of that initial fireball.

She summed up her heightened sense of the paradox of survival at one point saying of God: ‘He’d betrayed me, yet He had spared me...” 

Visitations, not all of them human, are part of her recovery but some years after the fire despair still creeps in for a final confrontation.

What her battered body copes with, what she copes with until finally she can see herself as not just the ‘fire lady’ make Forged with Flames an interesting and challenging read.

This book is a ‘journey of honesty’ and because it is the reader will smile, be unsettled, admire and, perhaps most of all, have fresh confidence in the power of hope.

www.wilddingopress.com.au