Whether you are a new reader to my blog or an old follower – hello! I love reading and for most of my adult reading life crime has been my genre of choice. Recently though that has started to change and I am picking up books more about people than dead bodies and drunk detectives, and even though at points the lack of a dead body is jarring (counter intuitive, I know) I am starting to fall for slower books – books which take things luxuriously. Books which have twists and emotions and made my heart ache.
The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green is one of those books. It’s about five women and a book club. It’s about Australia and the late 1970s. It’s about love and friendship.
In 1978 in Australia’s Northern Territory, life is hard and people are isolated. Telephones are not yet a common fixture. But five women find a way to connect.
Sybil, the matriarch of Fairvale Station, misses her eldest son and is looking for a distraction, while Kate, Sybil’s daughter-in-law, is thousands of miles away from home and finding it difficult to adjust to life at Fairvale.
Sallyanne, mother of three, dreams of a life far removed from the dusty town where she lives with her difficult husband.
Rita, Sybil’s oldest friend, is living far away in Alice Springs and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
And Della, who left Texas for Australia looking for adventure and work on the land, needs some purpose in her life.
Sybil comes up with a way to give them all companionship: they all love to read, and she starts a book club. As these five women bond over their love of books, they form friendships that will last a lifetime.
I’m going to start with a little detour from the review because that’s how I roll: there is something about friendships lasting a lifetime – especially between women – that has always really appealed to me. It’s glorious and all kinds of precious. I love it when it happens in real life and I love it when I read about it in books.
When telephones aren’t normal, your nearest neighbour is more than half a marathon away (I think about everything in running terms don’t I?), and there are two very harsh seasons – wet and dry – connecting with people is hard. Sybil decides to try something a little different and starts a book club. Initially to introduce her new English daughter-in-law to people but it quickly becomes more than that.
The women who join are hard working, diverse, and very different from each other. Green has created characters which lift off the page thanks to her skill with words. The heartache these women suffered made my own ache. But more than that, this was a story about people – women – surviving and getting things done.
Green also brought life to the Northern Territory in a way which completely surprised me, and as someone who knows nothing about that part of the world (let alone in 1978) I found it fascinating. Of course I know the place is barren and full of empty spaces but knowing something and then reading clever prose describing it is another experience altogether. I felt as if I was there.
I really enjoyed The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club and I am so grateful I was sent a copy to review. The publishers kindly sent me one for free however this has not affected my review or the enjoyment I got from reading this story. I recommend it – especially in this weather. Curl up with it and fall in love with the Fairvale Ladies.
I am one of many people taking part in the blog tour for this book. Here’s the poster and make sure you check the other reviews out!