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Book DetailsISBN: 9780733646126
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Book Review: Thursdays at Orange Blossom House by Sophie Green - Reviewed by CloggieA (13 Jun 2021)
5 stars Thursdays At Orange Blossom House is the third novel by best-selling Australian author, Sophie Green. A retired cane farmer, a high school English teacher and a café owner: three women from different generations and backgrounds who might have little in common, yet stiffness or pain or anxiety find them, via friendly recommendation or encouragement, or simply dumb luck, at Orange Blossom House for yoga classes.
After three miscarriages, Dorothy is feeling diminished and defective. She and her husband live in Kuranda and run a busy café in Cairns, and Frederick is loving and undemanding, but now they need to decide if they want to involve medical technology in their efforts to procreate.
Patricia’s three married siblings, all “extremely busy, you know”, have blithely accepted her return from Sydney to become the default carer for their elderly parents: a physically well father not coping with his increasingly demented wife. She doesn’t expect thanks: they are her parents and she loves them, but the responsibility is not made any easier by her siblings’ expectations and criticism.
Grace Maud keeps an eye on her family’s cane farm near Atherton, but is happy to take a step back to allow her only son, Tom, and his wife run it. She gracefully accepts both garden and house help in her little cottage in town. Yoga seems to help her flexibility and sleep, but will it help her handle sense of hurt and betrayal she feels when Tom drops his bombshell?
At Orange Blossom House, Sandrine guides their beathing, their poses and their meditation with her lovely French accent and her steely discipline, promising, and delivering, physical, mental and spiritual release. Her uncanny perceptiveness seems to direct her intuitive direction and support.
Over the eighteen months that follow, the women gradually become friends and learn to overcome their reticence to share problems. As they deal with Frederick’s ambitious plans for the business, the young(er than Patricia) PE teacher whose purported interest in her surely can’t be real, and a devastating tragedy on the cane farm, Sandrine often weighs in with insightful observations and words of wisdom.
Sophie Green’s main characters, feisty, harried or timid, quickly feel like close friends whose stories you can’t wait to get back to, so that picking up this novel gives the same comfort as a hug or a warm blanket on a cold day. By contrast, readers will probably want to shake some of the secondary characters for their selfishness and thoughtlessness.
Green divides her tale into seasons, prefacing each with a list of current songs, movies, TV series and world events that firmly establish the era (1993-5) and may well induce a sense of nostalgia in readers of a certain vintage. Her plot does have some predictable aspects, but there are enough surprises and topical issues to easily keep the reader’s interest. Once again, Green gives the reader a wonderfully heart-warming read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Hachette Australia.
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