Review: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book ClubThe Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The cover of this book is what made me look twice – I can’t go past a good bird reference. Then the title made me look a third time. I mean, it just couldn’t be a book about a book club, so what was it really about?

In that respect it didn’t disappoint. I liked the layering – of characters, of plot, of landscape. The versions of themselves these women presented to their community, isolated as they were in the Australian outback, concealed hopes, fears, dreams – even domestic violence. The book club was an excuse for them to get together.

In a time and place (1970’s outback NT) before internet, before mobile phones, when landline phones were party lines (in an eavesdropping sense, not in a fun sense), when women died ‘normally’ in childbirth, this is a warm and exceptional story. Exceptional because women leaving a legally enforced abusive marriage were rare, and inter-racial relationships even more so.

I like the way Green transitions past whole chunks of time that would only have made the book dull and repetitive, and I love the way she incorporates the landscape as it changes from life-threateningly dry to dangerously wet. Hardest to cope with is her depiction of marriage-breakdown. Its realism makes for difficult reading – I just wanted to tell the woman in question to run away, now, no matter what new hardships that will bring. Easier said than done.

We are fortunate to have a much broader network to turn to these days, but these women did strong, brave things long before word got out that women could.

It’s a pity Green’s characters didn’t have her book to help them in their day.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

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