'The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club' by Sophie Green (Sphere)

This is one of the most delightful and engrossing books I've read this year and while it's not a short read but it's a real page-turner - one of those books you are truly sorry to leave when it ends.

Starting off in 1978, it's set in the beautiful Northern Territory of Australia where Sybil Baxter is the matriarch of the vast cattle station Fairvale. Together with four women, she starts a book club to create an excuse for the women to get together and have some sort of cultural outlet. 

In the area there's very little way of keeping connected as there's only a telephone exchange and, with each living a considerable distance from each other, it's one of the only ways to ensure regular companionship.

The woman include Kate, Sybil's daughter in law struggling to adapt as she's thousands of kilometres away from Britain, her home country; Sallyanne who's locked into an unhappy and abusive marriage; Rita, Sybil's best friend who lives in Alice Springs working as a nurse for the flying doctor service; and Delia who leaves her native Texas and family to seek adventure and a different life.

It's a sweeping saga indeed as we are taken through their trials and tribulations, their happiness and their hardships. But it brims with warmth and compassion and I was totally swept up in this endearing story of friendships that last a lifetime.