Book of the Week, holiday reading, reviews, women's fiction

Book of the Week: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

Hello and welcome to another BotW post – this week we’re in saga territory with Sophie Green’s The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, which came out at the start of last month, but which I only got time to sit down properly to 10 days ago.  It was nearly BotW last week, but I didn’t finish it until Monday morning after my weekend at work and so I got to save it!  And after last week’s pick celebrated female friendship for middle grade readers, this does the same for grown ups.

The cover of The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club (such a long title, but I forgive it) is set in Australia’s Northern Territory in the late 1970s and early 1980s and follows Sybil, Kate, Sallyanne, Della and Rita.  Sybil came to Fairvale station 25 years ago, but she remembers how strange it felt compared to her life as a nurse in Sydney, so when her son brings his new wife Kate from Britain she comes up with the book club as an idea to adjust and make friends.  Sallyanne is stuck with a difficult husband who’s turned to drink while she brings up their three small children.  Della is a transplant from Texas at the next station over – she left her father’s ranch to find some freedom and her own place in the world.  Rita has been friends with Sybil since they were young nurses together and is now working for the Flying Doctors service in Alice Springs.  Across the course of the book all four women face trials and difficulties and find support and friendship from the rest of the group as well as finding someone to talk about books with.

I absolutely loved this book, which seemed to me like almost a what-happened-next to the outback life that I had read about in Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice.  I read that back in my teenage years  – it’s one of my mum’s favourite books and although it’s all good, my favourite part of it is the third part, that deals with Jean’s life in Willstown.  And Fairvale Ladies Book Club shows you another wild and inhospitable part of Australia that is almost inconceivable to me in its remoteness and challenges.  I  loved reading about Fairvale and the town of Katherine and wanted to be friends with all the women.  I’ve read quite a few of the books that the women read for the club – but this has reminded me that I still have Thorn Birds sitting on my kindle waiting to be read and has also given me some ideas for more reading about the Australian outback and a way of life that seems almost impossible to believe in.

I really enjoyed reading this and it brought a tear to my eye more than once. I think it would make an excellent beach read if you’re getting to the time of year where you’re thinking of holiday books – and as it’s over 400 pages long it would last a while as long as you don’t read as fast as I do!  It would also make a great book club pick – there are plenty of things to talk about here.

My copy came from NetGalley, but you should be able to get a copy from all good bookshops – like Foyles, Book Depository and Big Green Bookshop.  The Kindle and Kobo editions are already a bargain at £1.99 (at time of writing) but it cropped up as a Kindle Daily Deal about two weeks ago, so that may come around again if you’re not in a hurry and have a system for keeping track of these things.

And if you’ve got any recommendations for books set in the remote bits of Australia – or other remote parts of the world – let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 9 – April 15

A lot of time spent this week finishing The Vanity Fair Diaries, which turned out to be a bit of a slog. Certainly not quite what I was expecting. But still, not a bad list all in.

Read:

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

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark

Started:

The Templars by Dan Jones

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Two ebooks bought and one actual book.

 

Book of the Week, Children's books, graphic novels, new releases

Book of the Week: Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up

Firstly, it came to my attention slightly belatedly over the weekend, that Anita Shreve has died.  Her last book The Stars are Fire was a BotW back in May last year – it’s out in paperback in 10 days time and is well worth a read.  She’s definitely on the list of authors I need to read more of – just as soon as I get the TBR pile down…  Anyway, this week’s BotW is not out for a few weeks yet (sorry, but it had to be done), but I enjoyed it so much and have things to say, so I picked it anyway.  The Moon is Up is second Lumberjanes novel and it’s been a while since I wrote about the series (nearly a year in fact ) so I thought it was ok to mix it up a little bit and go back for some more middle grade action.

If you haven’t come across the Lumberjanes before, you can read my previous posts about here and here, but I’ll give you the quick rundown now too:  the series follows a group of campers at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.  Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley  are te girls of Roanoke cabin.  They all have different backgrounds and different strengthgs but they’re also  feisty, fun and best friends who look out for each other whatever the circumstances.  The graphic novel series runs to 9 volumes now, and this is the second spin off novel.

Cover of Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up

In The Moon is Up, the girls of Roanoke are taking part in the Galaxy Wars contest, which sees them up against their fellow campers in a series of space-related challenges and competitions.  There is the usual weird creature of the week type plot – this time a Moon Pirate – that we get in the graphic novels, but the novel format gives us a chance to see a bit more inside one of the characters – in this case Jo, who is trying to make a decision about whether she should take up the offer of a place at a prestigious science camp, and who also happens to be trans.

Apart from the excellent storytelling and fun adventures, one of my favourite things about the Lumberjanes graphic novels has always been the fact that it has a really diverse cast of strong female characters, who have a range of interests and strengths and support each other and know that when they work together they’re better.  And this novel is absolutely doing the same thing.  Jo is the analytical one in the gang and it’s fun to see inside her head as she tries to work out what the right thing to do is and to see the other girls giving her space to work out whatever is bothering her.  It’s a great example of how female friendships should be – and how people with different interests can be the best of friends.

All this makes it sound like the book might be a bit preachy and boring, but it’s the total opposite of that.  It’s a fun adventure romp that absolutely fits in with some of my favourite camp stories from when I was younger.  My copy was an advance e-copy from NetGalley and didn’t have the final artwork, so I know I’m going to be trotting out to the shops to have a look at the finished article as well as looking for the first book in the series too.  The novels are a great addition to the Lumberjanes universe, and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up is out on May 8, and is available to preorder now in Kindle and Kobo and hardcover from Amazon, Book Depository and Foyles.  The first in the series, Unicorn Power is available now from all the same places.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 2 – April 8

A couple of books off the long runners list – so that’s good – and I’m working on a couple more.  A fun (and varied!) week’s reading!

Read:

Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge

Blame it on the Duke by Leonora Bell

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre by West End Producer

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

The Marlows and the Traitor by Antonia Forest

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooklyn Allen

Started:

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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

Lots of discussion going on last week about diversity in romance and the problems faced by Authors of Colour – so I may have had a little ebook buying spree there as a result!  And I bought one paperback too.

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Girls of Dancy Dene

This week’s BotW is easily one of the most banana-pants books I have recently read.  And I’ve read some strange stuff* in the not-too-distant past.  I picked up The Girls of Dancy Dene from the local crazy vintage emporium for the princely sum of £1.50 (it also had a sticker for £5 on it, so I suspect it may have been tough to shift) in the hopes that it would be a proto-Girl’s Own story.  And it sort of is.  Except crazier and with more religion. My copy was given as a reward (not a prize) by the Primitive Methodist Sunday School in 1912, but I suspect it may have been written a couple of years before that, although that’s only guesswork because there’s no copyright date in the book.

Copy of The Girls of Dancy Dene

It tells the story of two sisters, who are already orphans and at the start of the book have just lost the grandfather.  Dora and Luce are 15 and 12 and are their grandfather’s heirs, but they’re not to be told this yet.  Their aunt tells them that they’re being sent to Switzerland to learn a profession because they’ll have to work for a living when they’re older.  This goes down like a lead ballon but soon the girls are on their way to the Alps.  But on the train through France they’re involved in a train crash which leaves Dora with a broken leg which may or may not leave her lame and sees her laid up (on a stretcher for some time) while her sister goes off to school.  And this is all in the first third of the book.  It goes on to feature a fake mountain accident, a pet marmoset, a horse in a kitchen and running through the house after a (pet) parrot attack and a cart tour through Devon.

An illustration from the book

It’s utterly utterly nuts, and I laughed so hard reading it.  It’s also got a strong strain of moralising – lots of stuff about beauty coming from your character not from your looks, the importance of girls doing what they are told by men and accepting their fate to help men do better and “Blessed be the Drudges” – which is a lot less fun.  There are also plot holes galore, timeline issues – and an “old” maiden auntie who isn’t even 30 yet!

The colour frontispiece from the book

It’s not actually a book that I would recommend to anyone but the hardcore reader of early 20th century books for girls – but I had so much fun with it that I did a live read of it on a Facebook group dedicated to Girl’s Own fiction over the Easter weekend.  They were all as bowled over by it as I was.  I also doubt that you’ll be able to find a copy of this – Amazon don’t have any secondhand copies – but I suppose I might be willing to part with mine if someone made me an offer.  The author, MB Manwell, has written other stories and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more of them because this was so utterly nuts I’d like to see what else they came up with!

Happy Reading!

*Including what turned out to be a stepdad and stepdaughter romance that I picked up (for free) on Kindle thinking it was a single dad romance.  That’ll teach me not to read the descriptions properly.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: March 26 – April 1

Another really busy week – at work and with things to do and people to see for Easter.  Not quite as much read as I wanted to, but some times real life is more important than reading.  I’ve been working on some of the long runners too – just not enough to get any more of them finished.  This week is going to be the week.  I hope.

Read:

Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delavigne

The Girls of Dancey Dene by MB Manwell

Pillow Stalk by Diane Vallere

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Fire and Fury by Michael Woolf

Started:

n/a – I finished all the new stuff I started and was concentrating on long runners…

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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

Blame it on the Duke by Leonora Bell

Three books bought – in a moment of weakness when I went into Foyles.  Oops.  That said, I’ve just been going through my list of NetGalley books to get it straight in my head and in my journal where I track what I’ve got to read and have realised that I’m massively over committed for April, and have a reasonable sized backlog too, so I think that’s going to be a handy reminder to me not to buy more books until I’ve got that more under control.

books, stats

March Stats

New books read this month: 28 *

Books from the to-read pile: 11

Ebooks read: 17

Books from the Library book pile: 0

Non-fiction books: 4

#ReadHarder categories completed: 4

Pop Sugar categories completed: 9

Most read author: Ben Aaronovitch (one novella and one comic)

Books read this year: 90

Books bought: 5 – 2 books and 3 ebooks

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 536 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (2 this month)