Review | The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

An entertaining tale about the kindess of strangers. 4/5 stars.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley book cover

Thank you to Random House UK for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

One green notebook. Six strangers. The chance to start being honest…

Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

But what would happen if they told the truth instead?

Desperate to confess the deep loneliness he feels, Julian begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life – to pass on and encourage others to share their own.

Leaving it on a table in Monica’s café, a warm, friendly place where Julian escapes at his most lonely moments, he never expects Monica to find it and track him down. Or that his small act of honesty will impact all those who come into contact with the book, and lead to a life-changing world of friendship and forgiveness…

My take:

In The Authenticity Project the intersecting tales of six people come together in an entertaining story about the impact getting to know those we see every day can have on our lives. In this sense, I thought it was a good idea to base the narrative in London, as in a large town or city it’s easier to be constantly surrounded by people but know none of them and be left feeling lonely and adrift even though you may interact with hundreds of others on a daily basis.

The main and secondary characters are a good mix. It was particularly nice to have one of the principal chararcters be (alledgedly) 79 years old and defy most stereotypes associated with this age. They are all fairly complex and it is easy to sympathise with their foibles, except for dear, sweet Riley (bless), who has none and of whom I was quite envious by the end.

I admit to enjoying some threads of the story more than others, although the switching between points of view was handled well. Each new character is brought into the story gradually, and the overarching third person narrative voice helps to pull them into a coherent whole. The clear chapter headings make it clear whose POV we’re in and prevents any confusion.

While the romantic aspect of the story is enjoyable, it is the platonic relationships between the members of the “project” group which I found to be the most engaging. I loved how taking part in the project lead to Monica’s cafe becoming a community hub, with the influence of the notebook spilling out beyond those who take the opportunity to write in it.

Overall: a sweet story about finding new friends among familiar strangers.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

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