In an unforeseen plot twist, Sarah-Kate’s Book Club becomes a tale of two cities.
For the past 18 years, I’ve been going, as often as is humanly possible, to Book Club.
We do talk about the book for a minute, if we’re lucky, but mostly the dozen or so women in the club just love each other’s company.
Kids have grown up, husbands have come and gone, health and wellbeings have been threatened, careers have dipped and dived, and through it all we’ve been there for each other – with a tiny bit of literature thrown in for good measure.
For the first four years, it was easy for me to get to Book Club gatherings because I lived in Queenstown where, in fact, Book Club is.
But for the past 14 years, I’ve navigated my attendance from the other end of the country where I’m currently domiciled – Auckland.
With a clever combination of Airpoints and cheap fares booked well in advance, some years I have made more Book Club meetings than people who live up the road from it.
That’s because when you find the right girl gang, you don’t let it go. These things – like the perfect pair of knickers – are hard to come by, so you stick with them until the elastic’s gone and there are worn patches in both cheeks.
Still, some months it’s impossible to take the time to scarper down south, on which occasions I sit at home glaring at the Ginger as if it’s his fault – which it sort of is because if it were just up to me, we’d probably still live in Queenstown.
Those months the girls meet without me, someone sends minutes, I have series FOMO for about a day and then I start plotting my next visit.
But for the latest Book Club gathering, I started my plotting at the beginning of the year, which is why our May gathering involved 10 of my southern sisters for the first time ever making the trek north to my house.
Dinner was on me (if not by me) and amazingly, afterwards, we did remember to talk about The Road Home by Rose Tremain. Actually, I wasn’t a big fan, but one of the more literate among us articulated that if you don’t mind too much about the plot (there sort of isn’t one), it’s a beautifully crafted novel involving clearly defined characters.
Me, I take my characters moderately defined with more of a story, but it’s a testament to different personality types, I’ll wager, that some are in it for the journey and others for the destination.
Book discussed, we moved on to more important matters like Meghan Markle, cake and the return of overseas travel.
We moved on to more important matters like Meghan Markle, cake and the return of overseas travel
With my gal pals staying in rented houses around the corner, we reconvened next day for lunch before a lovely long wintry walk on the beach, beaches being in short supply in the Wakatipu Basin.
There were face masks, haircuts (one of us is Oscar-nominated level handy with scissors), deep and meaningfuls, roast chickens, wine and a lot of laughing.
I confess I’ve completely forgotten what we decided on for next month’s book. But I will never forget looking around the living room at my partners in crime (and other genres) who’d come all that way to my corner of the world to share the aroha. And cake. But mostly aroha. Precious.