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The Sunday Story Club

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'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cry. But the salons have given me the opportunity to look back and think about my life...I don't talk to anyone about these feelings outside of the salon.'

We all carry stories within us - wrenching, redemptive, extraordinary, and laced with unexpected and hard-won wisdom.

These are the real-life stories that a group of women tell each other when they gather for a deep and structured conversation - once a month in a suburban living room - about the things that really matter.

They discover that life can be a heartbeat away from chaos; that bad things happen to good people; that good people do outrageous things; that the desire for transformation is enduringly human.

A mother tells of the heartbreaking loss of control when her daughter develops anorexia. A sister reveals the high psychological cost of being hated by a sibling over the course of her life. Husbands leave wives; wives take lovers; friendships shatter; wrong choices turn out to be right ones; agency is lost and re-claimed.

Profound, layered and clear-sighted, this collection of real-life stories reveals the emotional untidiness that lies below the shiny surface of modern life and reminds us of the power of real conversation to enlighten, heal and transform.


Published June 25, 2019

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Doris Brett

17 books1 follower

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5 stars
34 (14%)
4 stars
81 (33%)
3 stars
97 (40%)
2 stars
25 (10%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Madelyn  Baker.
196 reviews9 followers
July 13, 2019
I listened to this on audio and it felt like I had invited a group of wonderful women into my living room. I sat and listened to their stories, I laughed with them and cried for them. It perfectly highlights the power of telling your story and the impact it can have on not only others but yourself.

Profile Image for Jessica B.
64 reviews2 followers
June 26, 2019
Last night I finished The Sunday Story Club by Doris Brett and Kerry Cue. This book feels so deeply personal to me. It’s hard to explain. It feels like I’ve owned it my whole life and read a zillion times instead of just receiving and reading this month. i think it’s because when I was a teenage I fell in love with stories of the human experience through Chicken Soup for The Soul. This book burrowed it’s way into my heart and I will revisit these stories again I am sure. It was stressful, it was cathartic and it was deeply human. A new favorite. I got the urge to start my own Salon but I’m so busy this year, maybe next year after I’ve convinced someone else to read this and start it with me! There’s a whole section in the back about how to start one! I received this book for review from the publisher.
Profile Image for Vivien.
114 reviews
December 26, 2020
I was wary of this book based on some of the reviews, but I quite enjoyed it. The stories aren't trivial, they are reflective and real: troubling childhoods, illness, relationships, self discovery. I feel like some people were expecting trauma porn. Wouldn't want to be in a salon with people who rolled their eyes at these stories.
87 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2020
Interesting tales, but nothing I couldn't have found on the internet by reading personal blogs... Their origin and curation is the most interesting part, but not a book I took much away from.
Profile Image for mel.
191 reviews
July 9, 2019
4.5 ⭐️

Firstly, I would like to thank Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a free finished copy of this book to read and review.

The Sunday Story Club is a hard one for me to review, as it's essentially a collection of stories from real life people. Thus, it's quite difficult to express how I felt overall when each story provoked different feelings from me.

The Sunday Story Club is a collection of intriguing, awe-inspiring, insightful stories by real-life people. These stories provoke the reader into wondering about their own lives and their own experiences. The stories spanned a range of different topics, from having a sister who hated you to discovering your ancestor's past. All stories were so different, yet all of them had some element of being easy to relate to. As a younger reader, this sense of relatability was not as prominent as it would be for more mature readers, as I am too young to have done much with my life.

However, I was able to relate to specific elements of each story, such as struggling to gain the courage to speak out and be yourself, losing friendships abruptly, and wanting to learn more about your past. While each story was not relatable to me personally, they all made me realise just how incredible women are and how courageous women can be. There are so many parts in these stories where I would have expected these women to give up or break down. And sometimes they might have. But these women all got back up and continued on with their dreams, goals, and with their lives. In some of these stories, terrible things happened to these women and they still continued to move forward in their lives and move on. These stories have inspired me and make me want to have that kind of bravery in my own life.

The most incredible thing to me about this book is that these are all real stories, told by real women, to a group of strangers. These women all not only had the courage to endure these experiences, but to sit in a group full of strangers, and tell their stories. They then had the courage to allow their personal stories to be published in a non-fiction novel. Their courage astounds me and once again, it inspires me, making me want to be that brave.

This novel is not only insightful but helpful, as it actually provides you with the basic tools to start up your own salon. Before I read this book I thought salons were places where you got your hair done, and so I was quite confused with the use of the word 'salon' when I read the blurb, to say the least. This novel explains that salons were formal gatherings for people to discuss political, philosophical and intellectual topics, originating in 18th Century France. At the end of the novel, the authors compiled a few basic steps and a range of discussion questions to use when creating your own salon. This is incredibly helpful for those who wish to start their own salons, or something similar to one.

Overall, I found this book to be a very interesting read, as it was intriguing to see how different people's lives played out, and their different experiences. It wasn't only entertaining, however, but also inspiring, as it makes you realise just how incredible women and people in the world are, and it makes you aspire to be just as incredible as them.
Profile Image for Jessica M.
634 reviews8 followers
August 29, 2019

The Sunday Story Club is a compilation of profound, heartfelt, true stories from everyday women who have experienced incredible events in their lifetimes.

Each of the stories possess a unique perspective, a touching, warm voice that guides the reader through a really private moment in their life.

This is non-fiction — each story is the true story of a real woman. The women are anonymous and have given their permission to be in this book; Doris and Kerry have met these women in their story club and have chosen the most affecting, the most moving stories to include in their work.

Sometimes, it feels like you’re reading someone’s diary. You’re shocked, upset, or worried, but you also feel like you’ve been given access to someone’s private moments — someone’s well-kept secrets.

“Inside, of course, there was nothing clinical, detached or objective about my experience. I was a human being, not a science experiment, and my feelings oscillated between hope and disappointment. The overwhelming emotion I felt during the IVF treatments was frustration.”

The Sunday Story Club is about memories, healing, bonding, relationships and regrets. It’s about the moments in our lives that we carry with us, perhaps in silent.

Profound, layered and clear-sighted, this collection of real-life stories reveals the emotional untidiness that lies below the shiny surface of modern life and reminds us of the power of real conversation to enlighten, heal and transform.

“The state of our hair was an anxious undercurrent to our day. If we had managed to emerge from the house with it straight that morning, that was wonderful and afforded us a moment’s relief as we looked in the mirror. But in half an hour’s time, and every half-hour after that, the internal question assailed us: was it still straight?”

Naturally, some of the stories resonated with me more than others. There’s a story about a woman whose husband leaves her one day while she’s at work — takes his stuff, empties their bank account, leaves a note, and abandons his wife and child.

There’s another woman whose father was an abusive alcoholic for most of her life. And another woman talks about her daughter’s anorexia — a dangerous illness that almost kills her.

These stories are all so different that I’m confident any female reader will be immensely affected by at least one of them. It’s impossible to read this and not feel for the women who experienced these events. One woman spent years and many rounds of IVF trying to conceive, only to experience joy on the final chance. How could that not affect you?

“My distress faded eventually. and I could at last think about what happened without a sense of heartbreak and shame. And when I observed our friendship from a distance, I saw that the clues to its demise had been there from the start.”

The Sunday Story Club brings a wonderful group of women into your life, their voices rising from the pages with clarity and ease. I recommend this to female readers, and regular readers of non-fiction. Each story is relatively short, so it’s the perfect read for the daily commute.

Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rani Kop.
21 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2020
This book was ridiculous. Great concept, ladies meet up to share life stories and experiences. And this book was meant to be the creme de la creme of the stories. I was hopeful of great tales of overcoming adversity, living your truth, finding your purpose. Instead I kid you not, some of the harrowing stories was how a women read a serial killers diary in university and how she was never the same. Lol. Has she not seen the iTunes podcast chart top 10? Another example of great adversity was someone who did the family tree history. I’m not kidding. One was a women who made her first best friend at mid 60 and then her friend didn’t want to be her friend anymore, the greatest fucking tragedy. Maybe it’s because most ppl I know have experienced more adversity than this, but this book was hilarious for all the wrong reasons and just really reinforced class divide.

Anywho, if you’re a rich white women in the second half of your life who has never had anything really challenge you, this is the book for you. For anyone else, make sure you’re slightly intoxicated before embarking on this shit show. Or read Tiffany haddish’s memoir instead.

Profile Image for Rosalie.
246 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2020
I did like this book, but I think I would have liked it better if I could personally connect with the writers of each personal essay. I think the idea of a salon is amazing, and would be keen to attend one.
Profile Image for Edwina.
21 reviews
November 13, 2019
This book!.. I don’t even know how I came across it, though I am SO glad I did, I finished it in a day.
Like a huge warm hug. One of the best books I have read in a while, I didn’t want it to end. I cried and I laughed and I cringed and felt like I was having a sleepover. Love, Love, LOVED it!..
Profile Image for Esha.
152 reviews9 followers
April 11, 2021
This was a hard book to critique. A Sunday saloon of women and their stories. The idea of the book wasn't terrible and female friendships are so important (as are any friendships). I know the power of face to face communication and it was wonderful women felt safe to talk about what makes them them. They shared their dark nights of their soul, their ups and downs and this is why I found it hard to critique it. The book receives only two stars because the stories weren't especially compelling and thought provoking. I do wonder if the publishers took this on because these women would not be able to tell their stories in any other manner. They didn't encounter extreme emotions. Just the emotions of day to day and while it's important I weighed up as a cost of my time to read how the other side live (ie women not of colour) and decided it wasn't worth it. I am glad that there exist some women who only have to deal with what life throws at them without the additional burden of their skin. Don't get me wrong I don't wish them any suffering or pain. But I did read some and roll my eyes and wondered if some people truly are that lucky that they have scrape the bottom of their tragedy basket to tell the world of the time their older brother bullied a blind boy and they didn't do anything about it and grew up to read a psychopaths diary. Recommended for those who have lots of time for reading and miss the power of friendships.
924 reviews
September 18, 2022
“We are all made of stories. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are, who others are and what the world is become our reality.” In organising “salons” where intense and personal stories could be shared by women in a safe environment, authors Doris Brett and Kerry Cue presented sixteen such shared stories, each one prompted by a question designed to stimulate self-discovery. Questions included: “Has there been a time in your life when you discovered that things were not as you assumed them to be?” “What gift, that you have either given or received, has had an impact on your life?” “What, for whatever reason, was the hardest thing you learned to do?” “What experience changed you or gave you knowledge in a way you didn’t expect?”

The book includes the responses to these and other questions, followed by information for the reader as to how to organise salons and other sample discussion questions. I found the responses engaging, especially the ones that resonated with me most personally. However, there was an artificial intimacy to reading what were responses originally delivered orally to a small group of invited women, in the privacy of someone’s home, and with the opportunity to share and discuss these most intimate conversations. Because of this “imposition” on what were private moments, even though responders had agreed to share their stories with readers, I felt too much like an intruder, which impacted my appreciation of the authors’ intention.
Profile Image for Kate.
812 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2019
I love the idea of the 'salon' - the whole concept of deep listening; being exposed to new ideas and perspectives; and the power of the narrative, appeals immensely (I attribute this appeal partly to Priya Parmar’s superb historical account of the Bloomsbury group in Vanessa and Her Sister ). Brett and Cue have presented plenty of ideas for establishing your own salon but the bulk of this book is devoted to the stories that emerged at their 'Sunday Story Club'. The stories are mildly interesting, but unfortunately did not offer the level of personal insight that I had anticipated (with the exception of a woman's account of growing up as the daughter of Holocaust survivors and discovering that her brother was a cruel bully).

As I was reading, I had an unhelpful visual - a bunch of middle-aged women sitting around a comfortable living room, a glass of wine in hand and a generous cheese platter in front of them, talking about themselves... No doubt this is grossly unfair (and pot/ kettle etc etc) but I did begin to wonder if the real value in these stories is hearing them first-hand.

4 reviews
October 1, 2020
I’m sorry, but the only good thing I found about this book was that I was able to quickly read 1 or 2 stories a day.
The stories for me didn’t really correspond to the question, and I found myself daydreaming and going off course in every single story, nothing captures me.
Nothing jelled for me, I couldn’t get into any of the stories, I couldn’t relate to anything and I was actually pleased when I put the book down and to have rushed through the book just to get it finished for book club.
A big disappointment.
Profile Image for Emily Fletcher.
281 reviews3 followers
April 24, 2022
This was a fun read, and very interesting to take snapshots out of these older womens full lives. Its definitely a limited pool; they're all older white women who at this later stage are pretty well of financially, but they still have a variety of experiences including things pretty universal to the human condition. There were a lot of touching moments, some of my favourites were; recounting struggles with fertility and overcoming them with hypnotherapy, finding her mothers family she'd thought had been lost in the holocaust, seeing the complexity and duality of parents action and behaviours.
Profile Image for Judith.
229 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2020
Many of the stories the women shared resonated with me and I was impressed by the generosity of the women in sharing some really important moments in their lives. The is is strong theme of empowerment running through all stories and the voices are authentic and engaging. Interesting hints for running your own story club with great creative and open ended questions which I suspect would have wide application for interesting discussions.
Profile Image for Helen.
1,257 reviews9 followers
June 2, 2020
While I was moved by these women’s stories and recognise that what they felt was deeply felt, part of me thought that they were Generation X? ? Z hardships - that they could have researched their grand-parents lives and come up with real hardship and suffering. I was still glad they all reached some resolution by telling their stories.
Profile Image for Gia Rowe.
49 reviews3 followers
March 27, 2020
A nice light read of short but deeply written stories. Private emotional storytelling. Made me think, remember, dwell and participate in. Answering some of those questions would take courage and honesty.
Profile Image for Jodie.
44 reviews
January 4, 2022
I nearly gave up on this book in the first chapter but glad I didn't. Truly appreciated people real life stories and the time taken to tell these stories. The first and last chapter, even though essential to the context, were just slow reads
99 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2022
A lovely series of stories from ordinary people describing, mostly life changing events. The storytelling is terrific, and moves through each event quickly. A lovely concept, and I think would be really good on audio.
176 reviews6 followers
January 14, 2020
Some moving stories and an interesting idea
Profile Image for Denise Tannock.
389 reviews1 follower
February 29, 2020
The stories of this eclectic group of women have been told with understanding and empathy and are extremely well-written. I love the idea of a salon.
Profile Image for Lani.
66 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2020
I enjoyed the individual stories and the parameters set.
25 reviews
June 14, 2020
I listened to the audio. Great storytelling filled with emotion, and feelings. Told from the heart! Liked the thought provoking conversation starters in the appendix.. An enjoyable listen
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
372 reviews3 followers
July 20, 2020
Interesting idea, but the answers weren’t as profound as I expected.
Profile Image for Amy Perera.
377 reviews1 follower
July 22, 2020
Everyone has a story to tell about their lives. This book is a collection of true inspiring and touching stories from women. Some were heartbreaking and some lifted your heart. It reminded me that there is power in a real conversation with people. 3 🌟
221 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2020
A great idea in these isolated times to start a personal story club for women. Interesting, insightful stories with advise how to start your own club.
112 reviews7 followers
June 24, 2021
Profound things can happen unexpectedly. The salon idea is interesting.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews

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