Published by Bantam Press
Publication date – 2 April 2020
Source – review
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 her cafe, she is drawn to it’s owner, Julian. He has left a note, detailing the truth of his life. As Monica tries to track down Julian, she reevaluates her own truth. Writing those truths in the Authenticity Project notebook, she leaves it in a bar, little realising the effect it will have on her life, on Julian’s life and on the lives of the people who find the book after her.
This is a lovely story, one that pulls the reader through the pages. The chapters alternate between characters showing how they firstly interact with the Authenticity Project and then rounding out the story as the different characters come to know each other. The personalities that appear are ones that would seem unlikely friends, yet as the story develops so do the characters, and the group becomes a cohesive whole. It would seem that a former artist, a cafe owner, a gardener, a city financier and an Instagram influencer would have little in common. They find out that they are not so different as would first appear.
There is Julian, an avant-garde artist, resplendent in his finery of Vivienne Westward and vintage Alexander McQueen. His memories of mixing with the stars of the 60s and 70s merges with his imagined tales so he and the reader, are not sure where reality stops and dreaming begins. He has almost given up on life, at 79 he seems to be spending his days waiting for the end. Then he meets Moira, who shows him that life still has plenty to offer.
Moira is a thirty-something cafe owner, happy with her professional life but aware that her biological clock is ticking. She wants to be a wife and mother and understands this conflicts somewhat with her feminist ideals. Hazard is a drug addicted financier, who suddenly sees his drug fuelled, alcohol fuelled days as not the fun, free lifestyle he though it was.
As the story develops the reader sees the characters realise that living the dream may not be all it is cracked up to be, and that ideals can change and morph over time. There’s also the sense that it is never too late, that the real you, the new you or the you of the past is still there to be found in the present.
A nice, gentle read, that reminds people there are many truths about themselves and that the most important person you must be authentic with is yourself.