Set in the Northern Territory in the 1970s, five women come together and form a book club. The novel goes well beyond the inaugural meeting as the women get to know each other, share their hopes and fears, and develop close bonds.
Sybil, who instigates the book club, moved to the property of Fairvale, out of Katherine, having grown up in Sydney. She married Joe and had two sons Lachlan and Ben. Lachlan has left and had no contact with his family which causes Sybil, particularly, great anguish. Ben has married Kate, from England, and she is one of the members of the book club.
Della works on a neighbouring property. She left her family’s property in Texas to have an adventure of her own, and as a booklover is invited to join.
Sybil’s friend Rita is working for the Flying Doctors service in Alice Springs and flies in for meetings. They had been friends since training as nurses together in Sydney.
Fifth member Sallyanne lives in Katherine with her husband and children.
Sophie Green provides great descriptions of the landscape of the Territory that ‘some people described as ‘dead flat’ was actually a vibrant canvas that could reward close attention’.
The book touches on infertility, domestic abuse, women living in remote areas, the isolation, sibling rivalry, expectations of children, traditions of inheritance, attitudes towards homosexuality, conditions for Aboriginal people working on stations, and relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people at that time.
This charming read revolves around the relationships between the women, and those they have with their partners, children and other family, but it also shows how ‘we find out more from books than we do from life sometimes?’, that ‘Books give us the benefit of a lot of people’s experiences’, …’They give us more options to choose from – more ways to live – than we could ever find on our own’. How true!