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Novel set on the Gold Coast, AUSTRALIA

4th December 2020

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green, novel set on the Gold Coast, Australia.

It is 1982 and, in Shelly Bay, four women meet and become friends whilst swimming in the clear blue waters of the bay.

Theresa, thirty-something mother of two children, inspired by Lisa Curry at the Olympics, wants to get fit.  She’s also been prompted by her beer guzzling, couch-snuggling husband who has had the temerity to suggest that she needs to lose a bit of weight – this despite his own expanding beer belly. She also badly needs a little bit of time to herself and ploughing through the waves gives her this.

Marie, in her sixties and recently widowed, has been swimming there since she was a child.  Marie is finding it difficult to cope with widowhood, which has left her in financial difficulties and very lonely, especially since her best friend has recently moved away into a retirement home. Swimming gives her some purpose in her life and helps her to cope with loss and aging.

Helping rescue a child from the treacherous waves, brings Elaine into contact with Theresa and Marie.  Elaine, an Englishwoman, who has moved to Australia with her husband now that their two sons are grown and independent, is desperately lonely and bored and finding it difficult to fit in to Australian society.  She misses her family, and the sense of purpose that her job in England gave her and is in danger of taking of finding her sole solace in gin.

Finally, Leanne, only 25, and a paediatric nurse at the local hospital joins them.  She has been taking lessons at the swimming pool and now feels ready to graduate to the open sea.  She is painfully shy and desperate to conceal a very troubled past.

These four women, who on the surface share very little, find a common purpose in swimming, gradually become friends and get involved in each other’s lives. The bond that forms enables them to cope when tragedy strikes.

The novel is set very firmly in the eighties and references to that time abound.  It is good to reflect how times have changed since then, particularly where attitudes and values are concerned.  We may still have a way to go, but, thankfully MCP’s like Theresa’s husband or speedo-clad Trev from the surf club are thinner on the ground now.  The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle creates an even more powerful sense of place than it does time, however.  There is a real sense of space and light and a feeling that the ocean is there just out of sight but always in our hearing.  The sea is used as a very powerful symbol in the novel.  It provides, at times, a dangerous challenge for the ladies but also the means for them to bond and to change.  They swim each day, facing whatever waves are thrown at them, knowing they’ll make it together to the other side of the bay and that they will emerge stronger for the experience.

This is the latest offering from Sophie Green, bestselling author of The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, and it’s an utter treat from start to finish and just what the doctor ordered in these trying, Covid times.

Ellen for the TripFiction Team

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  1. User: Judy Smith

    Posted on: 08/12/2020 at 12:12 am

    I would love to read this sounds an amazing story line.


    1 Comment

    • User: Tina Hartas

      Posted on: 08/12/2020 at 9:41 am

      It is indeed just what we need in these times!


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