Secret Women’s Business

February 1, 2007 at 1:57 am (Uncategorized)

About halfway through last year, I started a book club locally. There’s a bunch of us all living in the same suburb, and so the simple necessity of getting there and getting home on a weeknight is never an undue drama for anyone. We can all virtually walk home, and even if it spills into a third hour, it’s never too late a night. Sydney’s all messily sprawled out, and so are my friends, so a book club by any other name simply wouldn’t smell as sweet, if schlepping across town to a new host’s place became a requisite feature of the monthly get-together. Call me lazy, but that all sounds too much like hard work.

Anyway, it’s a nice thing to do with some of my friends once a month, and I’m really enjoying it. We had book club last night, in fact, and it was just about exactly what the doctor (this doctor, anyway) ordered. Cas was hosting at the fabulous pad she shares with Simon. It sits right over the water, and the views are incredibly calming. Numbers had dwindled – Megan’s on honeymoon, Ali’s got a big new job as a foreign correspondent, Maria’s moving to Queensland, Gemma’s moved to Randwick and is about to have a baby, Jac hadn’t read the book – so there were just four of us last night: Cas, Tara, Anna, and me.

It was perfect. We talked about the book (The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty), disagreed, agreed, laughed, and pondered, and then we talked about other things. It’s these mysterious ‘other things’ that all our partners are so obsessed with.

“What do you talk about?”
“Do you even discuss the book?”
“Do you talk about us?”
“What did you say about me?”

You get the drift. The idea of all the womenfolk sitting together for an evening, in most cases with at least one bottle of wine and at least one new ‘And then…’ marital axe to grind, seems to disturb the menfolk’s equilibrium. They’re nervous about book club. They don’t trust it, don’t trust it one bit. They seem to think it’s some kind of front for high-pitched, hysterical gossip mongering, or, worse, witchcraft. I daresay most of them, even if they’d never admit it, really prefer to think of book club as some kind of Playboy party, where we’re all dressed in slippery bikinis, engaged in flirty pillow fights on heart-shaped beds, about to at any moment toss the pillows aside and lunge at each other with deep girl-on-girl intent.


Of course, the truth is nothing like a night romp with Hugh Hefner’s latest squeeze(s). But there is something great about being exclusively in the company of your own sex. Men already know this – they love spending time alone together, backslapping, smoke lighting, sport watching, round shouting, Betty scoping. But somehow when we do it, they don’t quite get it. Simon called Llew just after book club started and said “Listen, I, ah, I’ve just read a really good book, and I was, ah, wondering if you’d like to get together sometime and, ah, talk about it.” Really funny, actually, but it did at least paint the picture of just how foreign a concept the book club is to some guys (obviously not all. I know men who are members of book clubs, but none of the local lads seem even remotely interested in being part of ours. On the contrary. It’s only a matter of time before book club miraculously starts coinciding with card night).

But foreign it shall remain. I wouldn’t give up the secrets of book club girl time for anything. The only thing I can confirm is the title of the next book: The Boy in Striped Pyjamas.



  1. Jac said,

    True, I had not read the book ( thanks to whoever the dobber was) but that still would not of stopped me from joining in last night. But I was SICK! See you next book club!

  2. doctordi said,

    Oh, I thought it was a “headache” style of headache, like the way Tom and Simon have called in “sick” today!! We missed you, and I hope you’re feeling better today!! Speaking of The Memory of Running, when are we going for our bike ride?

  3. Jac said,

    Good question. I thought I had today off but they seem to have mixed up my big three days of work at D30. How could this week go so wrong? Interviewing tomorrow so maybe we can do a group ride on Saturday or tomorrow afternoon? Keen to introduce “Olly” to Daisy.

  4. doctordi said,

    Hmmm…I think Llew has another carnival Saturday, but I could certainly go. Daisy’s keen. I’m sure she and Olly are going to get along really well. They’re practically related.
    Good luck in the interview tomorrow, too (especially if it’s for a job you actually want!).

  5. Sarah said,

    Quelle coincidence! I bought The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas only 2 weeks ago. Great minds and all that. It’s sitting there underneath Cloud Atlas (uurgh!), Pride & Prejudice, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (which, after being initially horrified at the text/font/markups, Mum polished off in 3 days by the way), Middlesex and The History of Countdown… S x

  6. doctordi said,

    That’s quite an impressive pile of bedside reading, Sarah! In case you’re interested, I’m currently reading Leonard Cohen’s ‘Beautiful Losers’ and Marisha Pessl’s ‘Special Topics in Calamity Physics,’ which Brett sent over for me along with ‘if nobody speaks of remarkable things’ by Jon McGregor, which I polished off in Italy.

    On Pessl, the narrator has a somewhat grating oh-so-cleverness that I suspect is going to shit me to tears by p. 514, and her simile count is OUT OF CONTROL. Still, Pessl was born five years after me and is a stunning New Yorker, so it’s possible I’m just jealous.

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