Food for thought
“How well do you know the people who live near you? How well do they know you? Do you even know the names of your neighbours? Would you realise if they were in trouble, or hadn’t left the house for days? Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?
About the book
These questions are the basis of a beautiful uplifting debut fiction novel by Clare Pooley called the Authenticity Project. Julian Jessop is tired and deeply lonely. He begins the Authenticity Project writing his truth in a small green notebook. He then leaves it in a café, promoting anyone who finds it to write their truths, whatever the consequences. What ensues is magical, bringing the lives of six main characters together. Each character has their own foibles and demons. The project brings them together for friendship and support.
Why I liked it
The premise on which the book is written is an intriguing idea. How much do we really know about our neighbours? A little more since lockdown perhaps? However, social media has enabled us to construct our lives. We can play out a new reality, on Facebook or Instagram but is it the truth? Or just what we want the truth to look like? What would happen if we told the truth about our struggles?
The flawed characters make them believable and you really care about them and what happens next. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the characters, building the intrigue. The whole idea of community and friendship centred around a café owned by Monica is truly heart-warming. It also makes you think and sets many questions in motion about secrets and lies.
Clare Pooley was inspired to write the novel following positive feedback after she wrote her memoir “The Sober Diaries”. She documented her own truth about battles with drink. “My addiction was high priced, good quality wine (because if the bottle costs enough, you’re a connoisseur, not a lush, right?)”
One final question: is everything in the Authenticity Project truly authentic?
Well worth reading to find out. Then pass it on.