The book club biatches turned on me.
I’m an avid reader and manage to devour at least one book a fortnight, so I’d been looking forward to joining a book club with a group of lovely local mums. Of course, it wasn’t just about the books; it was a great excuse for me to leave the house and a then-husband who had grown increasing hostile towards me. So hostile, in fact, that when I did go to book club, he acted like a jealous boyfriend and tried to prevent me from attending.
So, the only way I was able to go was by lying to him – usually I told him I was going to the movies with my sister. I never learnt why he was so threatened by book club. According to him, a night at the movies was the more innocent option for a Thursday evening in the ‘burbs.
I really adored my ‘book club girls’ who were fun and kind, and they also seemed to adore me. Well, I was wrong on at least two of those factors. Fun – sure thing! But kind and adoring? Not a chance. And I found out the hard way. As the months went by, my marriage was in its final death throes and, on a couple of occasions, the book club girls asked me if I was going to leave my marriage, which was plagued by a torrid mixture of emotional abuse and gaslighting. It took only 10 minutes to fill everybody in and then we went back to discussing the chosen book.
Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don't give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it.
The book club girls only wanted to talk literary heartbreak. Photo: iStock.
I never made it all about meSo I was careful not to make our monthly catchup ‘all about me'. Even so, I couldn’t help but notice one woman texting while I was speaking and another, Lucy, exhibiting a dramatic eye roll whenever she thought I wouldn’t notice. When I finished speaking, Lucy poured champagne and announced a new rule. “If anybody talks about a topic that is NOT related to the book, there’s a $2 fine.”
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The story of my book
The night ended without incident and I went home, feeling refreshed and confident that, in leaving my marriage, I was doing the best thing for myself and my children. I knew that, with divorce, there was a lot of collateral damage and if book club was one of the relationships in my life that got caught in the firing line of marital mayhem, then so be it.
Book club 'disappeared'The following month, there was no book club. When I texted my book club buddy Dani, she replied, “We’ve decided to drop it. Nobody has time to read the books anyway.”I found that very strange – I always had time to read, and one book a month isn’t too much of a big ask. But, long ago, I accepted the fact that not everybody reads as much as I do. Maybe it was time to look for a new book club?
"You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." - William D. Tammeus
Then Facebook told me the true story. Not one, but five of the book club girls had posted photos of their recent get together – everybody minus me. It made me feel like I was back in high school again and left out of the ‘cool gang'. What had I done wrong? Being kicked out of book club felt dreadful and I wanted some kind of explanation; even a far-fetched reason would suffice.
Still reading and book clubbing but without the judgement. Photo: iStock.
No single mums allowed
Dani, who was the only person to return my phone calls, said, “They reckon you talk too much about your marriage break up. They’re all happily married, They don’t want to know that people like you exist. Also, they said they don’t really want a single mum in the group.” I like to think I’m relatively thick skinned but being booted out of book club really upset me due to the sheer nastiness. What are they scared of? That I’ll start chasing their husbands? Or, perhaps they’re worried being divorced is contagious.
These days I’m in a new book club with a great bunch of women who don’t judge, rarely read the book, and don’t inflict a $2 fine on anybody who dares to talk outside the literary topic of the night. Funny thing is I often bump into two of my former book club friends at the local Aldi and they always seem happy to see me. I guess there’s a crucial difference between a casual chat at the shops and deeper, reflective conversation at a dinner table. I wish all those ladies well and one day, if any of them find themselves divorced, I hope they feel slightly guilty about their treatment of me.
"You see much more of your children once they leave home." -Lucille Ball