Audiobook Review: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The Authenticity Project
by Clare Pooley, Anna Cordell (Narrator)

Publication date: February 4th 2020
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio


“Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth?” This is the question that Julian Jessop, an eccentric, seventy-nine-year-old artist, poses within a pale green exercise book that he labels The Authenticity Project, before leaving it behind in Monica’s Café. When Monica discovers Julian’s abandoned notebook, not only does she add her own story to the book, she is determined to find a way to help Julian feel less lonely.

And so it goes with the others who find the green notebook that will soon contain their deepest selves. It will also knit the group together In Real Life at Monica’s Cafe, where they’ll discover the thrill and sometime-risk of being completely honest–and, for some, find unexpected love.

With a cast of characters who are by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life, The Authenticity Project is a novel readers will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.

Source: Goodreads


I’ve seen some lovely, uplifting reviews for “The Authenticity Project” so jumped at the chance to read it when the audiobook became available in my local library.

Julian is a 79 year old artist, feeling lonely after the loss of his wife. He decides to write about his loneliness in a green notebook which he titles “The Authenticity Project” before deliberately leaving it behind in a cafe for someone to find. The cafe owner, Monica, then finds the book and writes about her own struggles before leaving the book elsewhere, and so the chain continues. As the book develops, the people who have written in the book begin to become connected.

The story is jam packed with feel-good themes including honesty, kindness, friendship, romance and the importance of a community. I think this would make a cute film and imagined it this way for the most part. I liked most of the characters and enjoyed hearing the story from various points of view which alternated every so often.

For me this was an enjoyable light read, but I have to say that it was a little too light for my tastes, with predictable story lines and some very stereotypical characters. I felt particularly uncomfortable listening to the fake, over the top accent of Betty Wu, a Chinese restaurant owner and I’m quite surprised that this accent actually made the final cut. As a lot of the other accents were also questionable, I probably wouldn’t recommend choosing the audiobook for this one if you’re going to give it a try.

Overall rating: For me “The Authenticity Project” was an enjoyable read but it wasn’t a particularly memorable one and I found it to be a little predictable. Full of feel good themes, this could be the light read that you need at the moment. It’s 3 stars from me.

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