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The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club 1

by Sophie Green
Publication Date: 08/08/2017
5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $24.25

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.

Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
Hachette Australia
Country of origin:
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Sophie Green

Sophie Green writes children's fiction and short stories. She has a degree in zoology and an interest in folklore. She was born and still lives in Suffolk and works as a children's librarian in the public library service.

Her first novel The Last Giant was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition in 2011. Her short stories have been highly commended for the Bridport Prize 2012, longlisted for BBC Opening Lines in 2013 and 2015 and won second prize in Words with Jam in 2014. Her story Potkin and Stubbs was recently shortlisted for the Bath Children's Novel Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • a heart-warming read

    by on

    The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club is a novel by Australian author and publisher, Sophie Green. It may be twenty-six years but Sydney ex-nurse, Sybil Baxter hasn’t forgotten the culture shock and the sense of dislocation she felt when Joe Baxter first brought her to Fairvale Station near Katherine in the Northern Territory. And now her youngest son, Ben has brought his English bride, Kate to live here. To allay her some of this London girl’s loneliness, Sybil decides to gather together some women to form a book club, combining companionship with culture.

    The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club takes place on Sunday, June 25th, 1978. Sybil has invited her oldest and best friend, Rita who nurses for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Felicity Major, Sybil’s next-door neighbour at Ghost River Station declined the invitation, but suggested their female stockman, a young Texan woman named Della, as an avid reader. Sallyanne Morris is a nervous young mother of three whom Sybil met at a recent Country Women’s Association meeting, and she becomes the fifth Lady in the Club.

    Each of these five main characters has an issue with which they are dealing, although for some, this changes as the story progresses over three years. Della has to handle chauvinist attitudes in her predominantly male job; Kate tries to be of use in her strange new world while attempting to fall pregnant; Sybil yearns for her eldest son, intentionally missing and rebuffing all contact with his family; Rita, at peace with a life on her own, suddenly faces the possibility of late-in-life love; and Sallyanne tries to be the best mother she can while her alcoholic husband is verbally and psychologically abusive.

    Green easily conveys the late seventies and a delightful touch that fixes the story categorically in that era is the summary, at the change of each year, of the coming year’s news events and current affairs. Her settings, too, are well portrayed, with descriptive prose that renders both the dusty heat of the dry and the cloying humidity of the wet almost palpable. Green’s characters are multi-faceted and develop along with the story. Most are appealing and it is difficult not to hope for the best outcomes for them, although some are to be denied a Hollywood-style Happily-Ever-After ending, thus anchoring Green’s tale firmly in the real world.

    Green’s story includes many of the usual challenges and traumas that ordinary life presents: love and marriage, birth and death, jealousy, friendship and loyalty, pregnancy and miscarriage, happiness and heartache. Also touched upon are the challenges of farming in a land of extremes, sexism and racism, and the burden of community expectations. This is a heart-warming read and readers will be eager to see what this talented author does next.