In this book I was transported to Australia, to the Northern Territory, to the end of the Seventies and the early Eighties where I got to meet a group of women who knew little of each other initially but grew from a small book club to a community to a close-knit family.
Sybil lives out on Fairvale Station, she moved their from Sydney to be with her husband and subsequently has two sons Lachlan who has chosen a very different path in life and Ben who finds Fairvale the place he wants to be.
Kate is Ben’s wife and thousands of miles away from her home in London. She is struggling to deal with defining moments of the wet and dry season.
Della is also thousands of miles away from her Texan home but the station and the land whilst similar to that of her ranch at home gives her more opportunities. She meets Stan and she thinks she may have found what she has been running away from.
Sallyanne is struggling, three children, a drunken husband and isolation from everything all she has is her dreams and they are slowly being turned into nightmares.
Rita is Sybil’s oldest friend and is a nurse in the Flying Doctors service and lives the furthest from her friend.
These women are brought together by the book club that was started by Sybil for Kate to meet some other people. It was clear that this book was more about their lives and their friendships then it was about the books. Although of course the books they choose to read are important and can give you a further reading list if you needed one. The books gave them a chance to escape their world as any book can do.
All of these women were faced with differing problems and the book dealt with, death, life, abuse, racism, sexism, depression and loneliness without actually having to wave a big flag saying this is what we are dealing with. These are the best books, the ones that deal with issues which are still so relevant today, even though the books setting is around forty years previously. Aimed at women readers there is something within these pages that most women will relate to. And if you perhaps don’t then put yourself in their shoes, int heir lives and think about how you would deal with the events as they play out in the book.
This is a thoughtfully written book, which whilst dealing with emotive subjects does a wonderful job is showing what life is like on a cattle station in Australia, when it takes days to cross the land and muster the cattle, where you can’t pop to the shops when you run out of milk without taking a two-hour drive and when it rains you are trapped with only radio as your means of communication with the outside world. For me fascinating stuff.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone wanting a change from perhaps the normal run of the mill commercial women’s fiction – this book has a story to tell in itself.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club is out on the 1 March.