This is a fun, clever, very modern story offering a poignant message of hope!
A notebook created for the purpose of confessing intimate, personal truth turns British strangers into friends as they form an unlikely bond of trust.
Online, everyone's lives look happy and perfect, which makes Clare Pooley's (The Sober Diaries) charmed novel, The Authenticity Project, a fresh, welcome and necessary change of pace.
Monica is a single, 37-year-old Brit who gave up her corporate law to open a London café. She discovers a simple exercise book left behind in her coffee shop, with three words etched on the cover: "The Authenticity Project." The first page reads: "Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead...? Not on the internet, but with those real people around you?"
Intrigued, Monica learns the book was initiated by 79-year-old Julian Jessop, who committed his truth to its pages. Julian expresses the deep-seated loneliness he's experienced for five years, since the loss of his wife, Mary, whom he appreciated only once she was gone. Julian created the Authenticity Project to purge his own feelings and deliberately left the book with his story behind, hoping that whoever read his entry would be inspired to share their own story in its pages and then leave the book for others to do the same.
Monica searches for Julian online and discovers he is a famous portrait painter. In the meantime, she leaves the notebook, with her entry added, in a local wine bar. It lands with a cocaine addict, Hazard, who takes it with him as he sobers up on a remote island in the South China Sea. What ensues is a clever story of how the notebook travels from person to person, six strangers who ultimately discover each other and form bonds of commonality, friendship and love.
The Authenticity Project: A Novel by Clare Pooley
Pamela Dorman Books, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781984878618, 368 pages
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
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NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review as published via Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (February 7, 2019), link HERE
To read the longer form of this review as published on Shelf Awareness for the Book Trade (January 7, 2020), link HERE