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Women cultivating a connection


Women cultivating a connection

A new novel set in Noosa centres on a fictional gardening society and its members who are passionate about the natural world.

Best-selling author and publisher Sophie Green lives in Sydney but she has always had a love affair with the Sunshine Coast, having visited our beautiful region since she was a child.

Sophie has written several fiction and non-fiction books, including several top-10 bestsellers. Her latest book, Weekends with the Sunshine Gardening Society, is set in Noosa.

My Weekly Preview caught up with the women’s fiction writer to tell us more about the inspiration behind the book.

What is the book is about?
It’s about a group of four women who are all slightly rootless who find connection and community by joining a gardening society on the Sunshine Coast.

Why did you set the book in Noosa?
The Noosa area has remained relatively undeveloped compared with other parts of Australia.

Local people and organisations like the Noosa Parks Association ensured that preservation of the natural parts of Noosa Heads and its surrounds remained a priority. So, while changes have inevitably taken place, the national park is as it ever was: a prominent feature of the area, and enables residents and tourists to be in the bush a minute after being on the beach.

My research showed me the beauty and breadth of plant life on the Coast as well as demonstrating how much care there has been for them by the people who live there.

Had you been to Noosa before the book?
My first visit to Noosa Heads was at eight months old and, throughout my childhood, my parents would drive me and my brother up the New England Highway from Sydney to stay on Hastings Street every year. I was always desperately sad to leave.

So, once I was an adult, I started making my own arrangements and I’m back there at least once, if not twice, a year. It feels as familiar to me as home, and I love it more each time I visit.

What was it about the area that appealed?
There is a history of environmental activism on the Sunshine Coast, embodied by the Noosa Parks Association and the work of Nancy Cato and others.

That gave me a foundation for the thinking of the fictional gardeners who formed the Sunshine Gardening Society and kept it going. They believed in preserving the natural beauty of the Coast, and that is also true of characters in the novel who are present-day members.

Once I started researching I found several out-of-print books that had been self-published, in some cases, and were filled with detail about the flora, landscape and waterways.

Although I’d started writing by the time I bought those books, their existence made me believe that I had – by coincidence or kismet – chosen exactly the right setting for a story about women who love the natural world.

Sophie Green is the author of Weekends with the Sunshine Gardening Society: Hachette Australia, RRP $32.99, available now at all good bookstores.

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