The Authenticity Project

Clare Pooley. Viking/Dorman, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9848-7861-8
This wistful, humorous tale from Pooley (The Sober Diaries) follows the path of a confessional notebook that passes through the hands of several characters. When 79-year-old Julian Jessop, a withdrawn British painter, leaves a notebook in Monica’s London Café, the owner takes it upstairs to her flat. A few nights later, Monica is oppressed by chronic loneliness as she comes home to her empty apartment; she reads the opening entry of Julian’s notebook, which laments the loss of his wife and envisions a model of honest public sharing, “not on the internet, but with those real people around you.” Monica then contributes her own intimate entry, a chronicle of dissatisfaction about being 37 without a husband or children, and leaves the notebook for another stranger. Timothy Ford finds it and brings it on a trip to Thailand that he hopes will help him get sober. After reading Monica’s entry, he decides to become her “secret matchmaker” by selecting an eligible bachelor among his fellow vacationers. He chooses Riley, a 30-year-old Australian planning to visit London, and leaves the notebook in Riley’s rucksack with a note to look for her. Pooley maintains a quick, satisfying pace as the characters’ simple, spontaneous acts affect each other’s lives. This is a beautiful and illuminating story of self-creation. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/29/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-7352-3843-5
Book - 978-1-9848-7862-5
Paperback - 565 pages - 978-0-593-17182-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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