Title: Thursdays at Orange Blossom House
Author: Sophie Green
Published: July 28th 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
From the author of beloved Top Ten bestsellers The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club and The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle comes a delightful new novel about friendship, love and finding yourself.
Far North Queensland, 1993: At 74, former cane farmer Grace Maud is feeling her age, and her isolation, and thinks the best of life may be behind her. Elsewhere in town, high school teacher Patricia has given up on her dreams of travel and adventure and has moved back home to look after her ageing parents, while cafe owner Dorothy is struggling to accept that she may never have the baby she and her husband so desperately want. Each woman has an unspoken need: reconnection. And that’s how they find themselves at Orange Blossom House, surrounded by perfumed rainforest, being cajoled and encouraged by their yoga teacher, the lively Sandrine. Together, they will find courage and strength – and discover that life has much more to offer than they ever expected.
Set amid the lush beauty of tropical Queensland, Thursdays at Orange Blossom House is a heartwarming story of friendship and family, of chances missed and taken, and the eternal power of love.
‘That day Dorothy first wandered away from this café and towards that yoga class, she could not have known what Orange Blossom House would bring her. Now she does, and it gives her the strength to walk back inside, sniff back her tears and get on with her day.’
What a blessing this third heartwarming story from Sophie Green turned out to be! Thursdays at Orange Blossom House is a delightful reminder of the power of connections, friendship support networks, self-belief, faith, chance and hope. Encompassing themes of family, relationships, ageing, parenting, loss and care, Thursdays at Orange Blossom House is a connective read.
Set in the warm tropical location of Far North Queensland, Thursdays at Orange Blossom House brings the reader back to the early 1990s. We meet a small group of women who find an unexpected and valuable bond during their participation in a yoga class. We meet Grace Maud, a retired cane farmer, who feels every bit her age. Patricia comes to the yoga class with high hopes for a life ahead of travel and adventure aboard, but this high school teacher’s dreams have been shelved as she takes responsibility for her elderly parents. The final member of the yoga class trio is Dorothy, a café owner who is grappling with the prospect of never becoming a mother. Each woman has their own problems to contend with, but the support they receive from each other via their yoga class gives them renewed hope. With some helpful guidance from their eccentric yoga teacher Sandrine, the group finds the support and courage to go on their own respective pathways.
Following the delightful The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club and the highly memorable 2020 release, The Shelley Bay Ladies Swimming Circle, Sophie Green makes a most welcome return with her new embracing tale, Thursdays at Orange Blossom House. I love how Sophie Green uses a network and a shared interest to bring her contrasted characters together. The result is a heartwarming, emotional and inspiring read. I found great value in Sophie Green’s newest novel.
Firstly, the setting is just exquisite in Sophie Green’s latest release. Tropical far north Queensland is the stunning backdrop for this absorbing story to play out. With the sultry warmth of the rainforest, combined with the breathtaking coast and the picturesque cane fields, this truly wonderful Australian setting makes you feel good inside. For me, Sophie Green’s book offered the chance to escape the dreary cold winter of Western Australia. The warmth coming off the pages of Thursdays at Orange Blossom House soothed my soul.
I also loved the characters in Thursdays at Orange Blossom House. There are three core female leads and each are very different to the other. I felt as though Green accurately captured each woman’s spirit. As these women are contrasted in age and circumstances, the reader is able to find a sense of connection and empathy with the cast, no matter how small. I was able to sympathise with and understand many of the core issues faced by Grace, Patricia and Dorothy. I experienced laughter, understanding, tears, ager and frustration at various points of the novel. Green is careful in her approach to the issues faced by her characters, providing a myriad of common life problems for her cast. From loss, health care, distance, regrets, family relationships, marital issues, guilt, fear of lost opportunities and business decisions, Thursdays at Orange Blossom House includes plenty of everyday life conflicts. The process of accepting, living through and making changes for the better, with the support of friends, forms the inspiring crux of this memorable novel.
The yoga references in this book are subtle, yet these sequences are a binding force for the characters. It definitely inspired me to revisit this form of exercise. Thursdays at Orange Blossom House has a fabulous structure that sees the reader travel through the seasons of 1993 through to 1995, with memories of popular events, royalty, music, culture, celebrity icons, films, television and political movements of the time. Sophie Green has penned a wonderful trip down memory lane. For those younger readers, these pre chapter snippets help to capture the mood and feelings of the 1990s time period. For me it provided a very happy sense of nostalgia! Make sure you pick up Thursdays at Orange Blossom House if you are in need of a fast and memorable pick me up. Five stars from me!
Thursdays at Orange Blossom House by Sophie Green is published by Hachette Australia on July 28th 2021. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of Thursdays at Orange Blossom House, Sophie Green visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Thursdays at Orange Blossom House is book #76 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge