Title: A Month of Sundays
Author: Liz Byrski
Published: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
For over ten years, Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone have been in an online book club, but they have never met face to face. Until now…
Determined to enjoy her imminent retirement, Adele invites her fellow bibliophiles to help her house-sit in the Blue Mountains. It’s a tantalising opportunity to spend a month walking in the fresh air, napping by the fire and, of course, reading and talking about books.
But these aren’t just any books: each member has been asked to choose a book which will teach the others more about her. And with each woman facing a crossroads in her life, it turns out there’s a lot for them to learn, not just about their fellow book-clubbers, but also about themselves.
A Month of Sundays reminds us of the joy, the comfort and the occasional challenge we can find in the pages of a book.
Liz Byrski is a local writer that I have had the pleasure of listening to speak about her writing in person. I have also enjoyed reading both her fiction and non fiction titles. A Month of Sundays marks Bryski’s tenth book release and it was a book that I liked very much. A Month of Sundays is a book full of heart and light touches of humour. It is a special novel, that shows us just how important books and female friendships are to our lifeblood.
Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone are all part of an established online book club, which has been functioning for over ten years. Although they have conversed online, they have never met in a face to face situation. Adele, one of the book club members who is on the cusp of retirement, is given an opportunity to house sit a cottage in the stunning Blue Mountains region. Adele decides it would be the perfect time to invite along her online book club friends and finally make that face to face connection. As much as this is a great opportunity for the group to make a personal connection, Adele hopes the women will get the chance to relax, enjoy the country surroundings and perhaps indulge in a few book related discussions. To move things along in this direction, each member of the book club has been asked to share a favourite book that best expresses who they are. But, each member of the club is at turning point in their life, of varying degrees. The time away is the ideal opportunity for these women to take a good look at themselves and make some changes in their life before they depart the Blue Mountains retreat.
Told with a delicate balance of insight, humour and character introspection, A Month of Sundays proved to be a lovely all round read. I read this book on a cold winter’s night and it was the perfect novel to curl up with beside a roaring fire. There was a feel good quality about this book, despite some of sad themes touched on in the novel. A Month of Sundays is a heart-warming tale that reminds us of the power of female friendships and how a love of books can definitely enrich your life.
Although there is an accessible light touch approach to A Month of Sundays, it is quite a reflective style read. It will implore you to explore your own relationships, choices and make you realise that it is never too late in life to make some hard changes. I really admired this aspect of the novel. It is a hard process to scrutinize yourself in the way this group of women do, but the support and encouragement they received from each other was a joy to be a part of.
Byrski has always been a strong advocate for mature women and she takes care to ensure that they receive the full treatment in her book, rather than taking a back seat. Each of the four characters featured in the book are between 60 and 70 plus, so Byrski works hard to shine a light on the experiences of older women. On the whole, I could still connect to these varied issues and themes, I was able to see some similar experiences in the older female figures in my own life (family and friends). A Month of Sundays is a character driven novel, therefore there is plenty to discover about each of the ladies and even the gorgeous pet dog Clooney (apt name!), which was an interesting journey overall.
As A Month of Sundays revolves around a book club, expect plenty of book related ground covered in this novel. I loved the whole concept of an online book club and how Byrski decided that these women had to finally meet after a decade of connecting online. Byrski has obviously conducted a great deal of research in this area and I feel like she has a passion for understanding this area, as it comes across quite clearly in this novel. Personally, I loved the dialogue between the characters and their discussion of the books that was chosen to be very personal to them. On a side note, I would have loved a list of the books featured in A Month of Sundays to be included at the back of the novel, as I am keen to investigate the titles featured.
My final mention in this review of A Month of Sundays is the setting. Thank you Liz Byrski for featuring the Blue Mountains as the central stage for your book club retreat. The Blue Mountains is still up there on my travel bucket list and Byrski’s descriptions of this picturesque part of our country just piqued my interest even further to visit. I’m sure readers will appreciate this aspect of the novel too, Byrski’s prose highlights the natural beauty, clean air and tranquillity of the region. Likewise, it was a great idea to situate the four protagonists in different parts of Australia and have them all converge onto the central location of Sydney. It was a highlight to see Mandurah, the next suburb to where I live in Western Australia, featured so prominently in this novel.
A heartfelt journey await readers of all ages should they choose to read A Month of Sundays. This is the ideal winter warmer, as it ties together a memorable story revolving around books, female friendships and the final parting message, that it is never too late to embrace change.
A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski was published on June 26th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of A Month of Sundays, Liz Byrski visit here.
*I wish to thank the publisher, Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
A Month of Sundays is book #72 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge