THIS is a book that revolves around six strangers who find their lives changed by a book that is passed around from person to person.
It all begins with a cafe owner named Monica coming across a plain exercise book with the words The Authenticity Project on its cover.
Flipping across the pages, Monica discovers the deep thoughts of Julian Jessop, an elderly customer (he is 84, but pretends to be 79) who writes about his life in general, and also about dealing with the loss of his long time partner, Mary.
It is his line “Everybody lies about their lives” , that is essentially the backbone of what this book is about.
Curious about Julian who was at one time a celebrated artist, Monica tries to find out more about him, and even goes out of her way to seek him out and befriend him.
She also starts writing about herself in the very same book, continuing the story with her own perspective.
Other than Julian and Monica (a single independent woman in her 30s who longs for a partner), the book somehow ends up in the hands of other characters such as Hazard, the hard partying ex banker who desperately wants stability, Riley, an Australian expat who eventually falls for Monica, Alice, an unhappy homemaker, and Lizzie, a retired maternity nurse.
As these diverse individuals begin to write about themselves, each comes to a realisation as to who they really are, and what they really want out of life.
Some even hook up with each other.
While Julian, Monica and Hazard are the key characters here, the other three don’t really seem like afterthoughts.
Essentially it is how, upon reading someone else’s secrets thoughts, the reader might feel compelled to open up as well.
The story is unique, and Pooley’s characters have just the right amount of quirks to make them engaging.
The premise may be a bit over the top but the book is still a good read. – by S. Indra Sathiabalan
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