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Tuesday, April 21, 2020


I can imagine this book being made into a delightful, feel-good romcom movie, in the genre of “Love, Actually” and “Notting Hill”. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

“Our lives aren’t always what we make them to be.
What would happen if we told the truth instead?”

This is the premise that forms the core of The Authenticity Project, the debut novel by new kid on the block, Claire Pooley.

Monica’s Café is where the story starts and where most of it unfolds. Six strangers with no connection to one another become intricately involved in one another’s lives. When Julian sits down in the café and writes the truth about his life in the notebook, he has no idea what will happen. Deliberately leaving the book in the café, he sets the ball rolling.

Monica, the owner of the café, finds the notebook and adds her truth. Further characters that become involved are Hazard, Riley, Alice and Lizzie. Each one of them feels the need to include their truth – whether it is addiction to alcohol and drugs or being unhappily married and feeling inadequate as a new mother, everyone hides behind a facade.

I really looked forward to this book as I found the topic of “telling the truth” to be quite intriguing. In this day and age where we airbrush and photo-shop our lives, where many of us put on a show of all being perfect, the thought of characters stripping back and revealing their innermost truths, warts and all, excited me.

The first half of the book delivered – albeit a tad saccharine and on the verge of clichéd, I enjoyed the tempo and pace of the story unfolding. However, the latter part of the book came across, in my opinion, as a bit forced and almost as if the author was trying to tie up all the loose ends. I also felt the final two characters introduced into the story, Alice and Lizzie, were perhaps clumsily inserted and verged on being too stereotypical to be believable.

I can imagine this book being made into a delightful, feel-good romcom movie, in the genre of Love, Actually and Notting Hill. In fact, as I was reading the book, I could almost visualise certain scenes as if it was a movie – Hazard getting to grips with his addiction on Koh Samui in Thailand, the wedding which Monica attends with Hazard, Monica showing Riley the sights in London and his excitement at seeing snow for the first time…I would certainly dash out and purchase a ticket to watch it!

Despite my seemingly not so flattering comments, I enjoyed the book –a cute and utterly charming story that nowadays is in short supply. - Fiona de Goede

The Authenticity Project is published by Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-1-787-63178-6