When talking about yourself, how honest are you? Do you have one truth for others or another for yourself? Are you even honest with yourself, especially if the truth is uncomfortable? These are part of the central questions that form the framework of the new novel by Clare Pooley, “The Authenticity Project”.
Julian, who finds himself widowed and lonely in his seventies, begins to write his story in a small green note book , which he drops off at Monica’s café with instructions for the finder to write their own truth and pass the book forward. Monica who finds the book becomes intrigued and chooses to contribute her own story before leaving the journal in a local bar. Since the identities of the writers are easily identified, as each writer adds his or her story, an honest connection is formed with the previous writers who develop into a sort of quirk ’family’, where each of characters finds an element of forgiveness and redemption. Each person’s truth reflects both the good and flawed aspects of their characters, mixing in moments of humour with occasionally bitter truths. I particularly found Monica’s hidden vulnerability and Hazard’s struggles with sobriety as a recovering addict touching. The author whose own struggles with alcohol were chronicled in her previous book, “The Sober Diaries”, seems to find special empathy with Hazard, as will most readers.
The book is brimming with charm and Pooley’s writing is clever with a touch of whimsy that makes the story both specific and universal at the same time. The moral lesson of living with honesty is the only way to create meaningful relationships, is a subtle undertone but stays with the reader long after the last page is closed.