Claire Pooley’s debut novel The Authenticity Project is a warm and soothing balm for the soul and a perfect light read.

The premise of The Authenticity Project is a simple one – what would happen if you told the truth about your life? Your hopes, your dreams, and your regrets?

When Julian Jessop leaves the truth of his lonely life in a notebook on a table in a local cafe, he isn’t sure if anything will come of it. But for Julian, Monica, Hazard, Riley, Alice and their assorted friends and family, Julian’s ‘Authenticity Project’ might just lead to some surprising results. New friendships, new jobs, new lifestyles – and some home truths both pleasant and difficult – all come out of each person’s contact with the unassuming notebook.

I had an absolute blast reading The Authenticity Project. The characters, even those who initially come across as somewhat unpleasant, are a huge amount of fun to spend time with. By the end of the book, it really did feel like I’d got to know them and I genuinely wanted things to turn out for the best for them all. From flamboyant but isolated artist Julian to new mum and Instagram influencer Alice, each of the characters bought a fresh perspective to the story and Pooley has done a fantastic job of making each voice feel distinct.

This is the perfect piece of feel-good ‘up-lit’ – expect to get all of the warm fuzzies from reading it – but that doesn’t stop ‘The Authenticity Project’ from tackling some difficult subjects as well. From grief, loneliness and the struggles of old age, through to childlessness, addiction, the pressure of motherhood and the gap between expectations and reality, there’s a lot of ground covered. But these darker subjects are treated with warmth, sensitivity, understanding, and a dash of humour to create a novel that focuses on the things that connect us rather than those that drive us apart.

Some book clubs might not find tons to get their teeth into but, for me, The Authenticity Project was a warm and uplifting read that has bags of heart and humour and is just perfect for fans of Libby Page’s The Lido and A J Pearce’s Dear Mrs Bird.

Amy Louise Blaney 5/3*

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
9781787631793 Transworld Hardback April 2020