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 … she loved books because they let her exist in different worlds, far from the dusty, hot town in which she’d grown up. In books she could live in London and Crete … she could inhabit the eighteenth century or New Kingdom Egypt. In books she could find tips on how to be a proper lady, … how to say ‘fiddle-dee-dee’ when you really wanted to tell someone to get lost.”  – Sallyanne

 

SOPHIE GREEN IS A TALENT. Her new book, The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, is, in places, a lyrical depiction of Northern Territory Australia in the late 1970s. Here, five women with very different life experiences – Sybil, Kate, Sallyanne, Rita and Della – come together through their love of books.

The quality of Green’s writing, her evocation of landscape and her authentic characterization make this more than just an easy holiday read as its title perhaps implies. While Green brings to life the vastness of the territory, the harshness of the climate and the hardships involved in day-to-day living, she also shows us the beauty. The characters’ sense of isolation also shines through, as do their shared frustrations and loneliness at not being at one with their environments, albeit for a myriad of reasons. As the women come together through the book club, they form attachments, becoming good friends. It’s a credit to Green’s writing that this isn’t at all clichéd, but rather heartwarming: we care about these women.

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club brings home one of the great pleasures of being part of a blog tour – that quite often we’re introduced to new writers or books that we might not have come across otherwise. And, if it’s not clear already, this is a very good read, partly because Green’s love for the land resonates throughout and partly because the cast, main and supporting, appear true. To be honest though, I would have liked it anyway as the books that inform the story and bring the characters together are my books, words important to me and my personal story, from Picnic in Hanging Rock to The Thorn Birds.

That said, if I were allowed a couple of minor gripes, they would be that the book deserves a much better title and the trainspotter in me would like a map – I do love a good map. But that is me being particularly picky – both this book and Green deserve every possible success.

 

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club | Sophie Green | Sphere

| 1 March 2018 | Trade paperback | £12.99 |

 

Suggested soundtrack: John Barry’s very beautiful Walkabout (1971); ‘Meggie’s Theme’ from The Thorn Birds – a lovely orchestral version with the added bonus of Henry Mancini’s introduction.

Book club grazing food: a little mezze – Fava with flatbreads and other small plates.

 

Acknowledgements: Text pages 15–16 © Sophie Green 2017. This review is published as part of the Sphere book tour, February–March 2018. Thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown for providing a book proof and a lovely bookmark, haven’t had one of those in years. All views expressed are our own. Image © The Literary Shed 2018.

 

Also of interest:Force of Nature–aka where’s Alice Russell?‘; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry‘; ‘Nora Roberts’ Come Sundown – a tale of strong women‘; ‘Meet crime writer John Fairfax‘; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut The Dry – murder and mayhem in small-town Australia‘; ‘An Alaskan epic – Rosamund Lupton’s The Quality of Silence.

 

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