Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) is a nurse on a luxury ocean liner traveling from London to Sydney and this is where her path first crosses with the incredibly wealthy and complex Bligh family. Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazelhurst), the stubborn and harsh matriarch of the family, has some medical issues while on board and Sarah is there to help, inadvertently catching the eye of Elizabeth's eligible widowed son, George (Brett Climo) in the process. She also thwarts the suicide of George's troubled son, James (David Berry), who is newly married to Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood), but clearly quite miserable with the situation. Also on board is George's carefree and delightful daughter, Anna (Abby Earl).
When the boat docks and Sarah returns to the home of her ill mother, she is outright rejected because she has chosen to accept the religion of Judaism and her mother, a staunch Catholic, cannot abide this. It just so happens that there is a position for a community nurse in Inverness, the hometown of the Bligh family, but will Elizabeth allow this woman who knows a shameful secret about her family to live in peace when she essentially rules the town and can force her will upon nearly everyone? The simple answer is no, but watching these two strong and willful women spar is a thing of beauty.
Sarah finds George appealing, but there's also her boss, handsome Dr. Jack Duncan (Craig Hall), who has some secrets of his own, but is always quick to support Sarah. This can sometimes be difficult, since Sarah leads a very private life and has a mysterious past, the least of which is her conversion to Judaism during WWII. There's a hefty dose of anti-Semitism in Inverness and Sarah takes the brunt of it, but through everything, she is always there for the members of the community, be they rich or poor, and she is quick to stand up to bullies of all sorts, which gets her in trouble on more than one occasion.
Things really heat up when George's dead wife's sister Regina (Jenni Baird) shows up to stir the pot (at the behest of Elizabeth, naturally), but then has designs of her own. Add to that Anna's romance with an Italian immigrant and George's black sheep sister Carolyn (Sara Wiseman) coming back to the family estate of Ash Park with a few bombshells of her own and it all adds up to a simply delicious soap opera/drama that you just can't turn off. I only wish there were some interviews or featurettes because I found the cast and characters so compelling, I would have loved to have seen more info on them. As it stands, this is one of the finest drama series I have seen and I am absolutely on edge waiting for the next season to release so I can see what happens, as the season ended with a number of intriguing cliffhangers.
This Australian series could only take place in the 1950's because some of the topics that take center stage just wouldn't cause the fuss now that they would then. Religious and class discrimination, homosexuality, birth control, sex before marriage, and children born out of wedlock - these are all topics tackled head on in A Place to Call Home: Season 1 and with style and finesse. The writing in this series is simply fantastic and the cattiness is just delicious. Highly recommended.