Over The Teacups, Review

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.


book cover Why?  I picked this up because it is a book for the Books With Heart online book club. It has as its main focus a 79 1/2  year old woman, and that also covers a challenge to read a book with a  main character over 60.

Plot  Peggy lives in a single bedroom apartment with her old dog Basil. Life is rather blah until a long time friend arrives to jazz her up. And there are a couple of surprising revelations there! Peggy also has her eye on a neighbour – Brian, whom she rather fancies. So we follow the health struggles, the life challenges, the family ups and downs, until we arrive at the other side and Peggy is almost a new woman.

What Appeals to me? This story gives us a look in on the wonderful people who are often invisible to the eye. Is being elderly a time to sit and be boring? Or is it a time when life can be lived to the full – and why not? Peggy is very real and her desire for love and friendship is a basic need. With a little confidence she is going to bring out the Smart in her. This book gives insight from the older person’s point of view. Joanna Nell is a doctor, so she brings to the story wisdom and understanding.

And so… I think this is a book that would count as exploring diversity – of age! Well done Joanna Nell. It was the Books with Heart book for November and I enjoyed reading and contributing to the discussions about it during the week.

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

Published: Hachette Australia
Date: 8th August 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
4 stars             Add to Goodreads

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.

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The words book club might have drawn me to The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club,  and that part of it lived up to its promise, however it is the setting in the Northern Territories and the friendships and lives of the five women that kept me reading as well.
I would imagine life is hard in this area, and the challenges that the women face in this book and in actual life are enormous. The seasons of wet and dry, the isolation, the lack of the many entertainment opportunities we take for granted. And this book is set in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Yet on the other hand there is a beauty in the landscape and I am sure something that draws people to this harsh environment.
The five women were all interesting and I liked slowly getting to know them. Sybil – the matriarch is the one who starts up the book club. The book club helps to bring the women together and even if they have to have it over the radio because the weather is bad, it goes ahead. And they really do discuss the books and through them become involved more in each others lives.  Sybil already has a great friend in Rita – from early working days. Kate her daughter-in-law is English and is facing into a place so different to where she grew up. Della is a stock person and hails from Texas, and she finds the northern territories grow on her all the time.  Sallyanne really benefits from the friendships, she is  a bright, intelligent,  young woman in a marriage that is going south.  I liked her penchant for the romance genre too!
These women face into loss and grief, the hardships of the job, the pain of miscarriage, the difficulties of marriage and the absolute pain of racism. Through it all they support each other – walk with each other – and through it all make a life worth living.
An at times emotional and satisfying read, I’d be delighted to belong to the Fairvale Ladies Book Club!
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Come Sundown Nora Roberts

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Published: Piatkus
Date: 30th May 2017
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the resort manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

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All I can say is Nora Roberts does it again with Come Sundown. There is mystery and crime, strong women, a beautiful ranch and resort in Montana, family and friends, romance – all of which combine into making a downright good read.
Bodine – the heroine is a strong, feisty woman and boss, she runs the resort side of the family business really well. She comes from a strong line of women – there’s Miss Fancy her great grandmother of 89 years, Cora her grandmother and Maureen her mother. And don’t think Miss Fancy sits all day in a rocking chair, don’t offend her with that. She can still ride out when she wants over the ranch.  One of the laughs I got from this book was a tee shirt she turned out in one time with a really apt and clever slogan on the front. Not going to spoil it for you though, you just need to come across it.
There is darkness in this novel, Bodine’s Aunt Alice went missing, she was a little of the black sheep of the family and had left home to do her thing. However she is taken hostage by a very bad guy and lost to the family. Bodine and her two brothers have never met her or seen her. At times we get the viewpoint of this evil, ugly man and for some that could be off putting. But so far one thing I can say is, Nora Roberts never lets the bad guy win – so hang in there.
These dark spots are juxtaposed against family, life on the ranch and resort. Family bonds are so strong and when Callen rides in on his amazing horse life gets even better. He is a long time friend of Bodine’s brother Chase, returning to his place of birth after time in Hollywood training horses. Soon he is very much involved in life on the ranch and resort. And dang it. That horse of his, there is something magical about it.
I love the title of this book and how it relates to the story, won’t give it away, but its perfect. At times during the reading I shied away from the ugly, caught my breath at the very emotional points and chuckled at some of the humour that sprang out in places.