Author: Sophie Green
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: 2017-08-08
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Books bring them together - but friendship will transform all of their lives. Five very different women come together in the Northern Territory of the 1970s by an exceptional new Australian author.
In 1978 the Northern Territory has begun to self-govern. Cyclone Tracy is a recent memory and telephones not yet a fixture on the cattle stations dominating the rugged outback. Life is hard and people are isolated. But they find ways to connect. Sybil is the matriarch of Fairvale Station, run by her husband, Joe. Their eldest son, Lachlan, was Joe's designated successor but he has left the Territory - for good. It is up to their second son, Ben, to take his brother's place. But that doesn't stop Sybil grieving the absence of her child.With her oldest friend, Rita, now living in Alice Springs and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and Ben's English wife, Kate, finding it difficult to adjust to life at Fairvale, Sybil comes up with a way to give them all companionship and purpose: they all love to read, and she forms a book club.Mother-of-three Sallyanne is invited to join them. Sallyanne dreams of a life far removed from the dusty town of Katherine where she lives with her difficult husband, Mick.Completing the group is Della, who left Texas for Australia looking for adventure and work on the land.
If you loved THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, THE LITTLE COFFEE SHOP OF KABUL and THE THORN BIRDS you will devour this story of five different women united by one need: to overcome the vast distances of Australia's Top End with friendship, tears, laughter, books and love.
'The story of these resilient women is tender and intimate. Sophie Green has created a world that's as heartwarming, fulfilling and Australian as a lamb roast and full-bodied shiraz' Australian Women's Weekly
'I loved this book. I've never been to the Northern Territory but I felt as if I was really there for the entire time I was reading this book' NATASHA LESTER
'I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful novel... Sophie Green's beautiful mingling of the book club members' lives down through the years is a testament to her clever storytelling... She provides vivid descriptions of both the triumphs and hardships of life in the outback so readers can empathise with all the joys and heartaches experienced by each one' Starts at Sixty
'Brimming with atmosphere and warmth, this gorgeous book completely carried me away. I absolutely loved it.' JENNY ASHCROFT, author of Beneath a Burning Sky
'A plucky group of women gather together to help each other through the tough times . . . This touching tale set in a familiar landscape is an ode to [the author's] love of the place and its people' Sunday Territorian
'I thoroughly enjoyed this story... it does not end when the last page is read since the reader is inspired to find out more about the other books mentioned' Queensland Reviewers Collective
The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club was a great story. It’s one of those books that you could snuggle up with on a weekend and while away a few hours with. Most importantly, it’s set in a beautiful part of my country and really shows the vastness of Australia.
The descriptions of the land and the people are very true to life. Australia can be a tough country to live in, even if you’re not living in the rural areas. We really only have two seasons – winter and summer. Winter is bitterly cold, often so wet you’re ankle deep in mud puddles and there’s even snow in some places. Summer is insanely hot, as well as so dry the trees and grass act like a tinderbox and even the smallest spark can cause massive blazes that destroy thousands of kilometers of land and homes.
The wet season in the middle of Australia – where Fairvale is set, is sort of like hurricane season in the US. Wet, wild and dangerous. You might be cut off from the rest of civilization for weeks. Even after the rain stops, it’s still bloody wet because the ground needs time to soak in all the extra water. Sophie Green has done an amazing job in describing the wet season in Australia.
This book really tackles the topics of isolation, strength, family connections and courage in hard times – it’s set in the late seventies so things were a little different back then, but the topics and situations in which they arise are still relevant now. The start of each section/year has major world events listed and it’s quite interesting to see which events occurred.
Admittedly it’s a little slow to start, simply because we need to meet all the characters, but after that the pace is quite pleasant. The different perspectives works really well, as Sophie Green manages to tie them altogether seamlessly without it feeling awkward or jolting you from the story. I enjoyed all the little farm aspects having been raised on a farm most of my life, and it was interesting to see what parts were the same and what parts were different.
Overall I thought this was a well-written book, with a gorgeous setting (I’m biased about this beautiful country I live in) and it’s a wonderful weekend read.