Originally published: 2 April 2020 (Paperback 18 February 2021)
Author: Clare Pooley
Published by: Penguin
Length: 416 pages
Listening Dates: 20-23 February 2021
Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.
What would happen if they told the truth instead?
Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.
Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.
Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.
When Monica finds a notebook in the café where she works, with the words “The Authenticity Project” on the cover and reads the pages inside, she discovers Julian who was once a famous artist, has told his truth – how once he lived an exciting life, but now as an old man and widower is lonely and feels invisible. By leaving the notebook, he hopes to encourage people to read his story, write their own truth within the pages and then pass it on.
Monica reads Julian’s story and her first instinct is to try and help him which she does by advertising for an art teacher to teach beginner classes in her café in the hope Julian will apply for the position and make some new friends and find purpose to his life. Then Monica writes her truth – how she wants to fall in love and have babies.
Monica leaves the notebook in a bar and it travels the world and this wonderful story is about the connections the people make who leave their stories in this book. We meet arrogant city worker Hazard who is struggling with addiction, sweet Australian back-packer Riley, new mum and Instagram sensation Alice, and nurturing mother earth type Lizzie. There are some great characters in this book, all with their own issues and I loved the way the friendships they made helped to overcome these problems. Characters are introduced gradually so to start with it is just about Julian and Monica. As the book gets passed around new characters are introduced and I loved this. There are some emotional moments but it was the sort of book that felt like it was giving me a hug.
A real feel-good book which also manages to tackle some issues including addiction and post natal depression. I adored this brilliant debut, Pooley certainly writes great characters and I think this would make a great movie or TV series. 5 wonderful stars from me!
Thank you to Adventures with Words for inviting me on the Instagram readalong and to Penguin for a copy of the book and some matching chocolate!
About the author:
Clare Pooley graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising.
When Clare realised that she was drinking way too much, she quit, and started a blog called Mummy was a Secret Drinker, which became a memoir – The Sober Diaries.
The Authenticity Project, Clare’s first novel, was inspired by her experience of telling the truth about her life.