A Fun Reading “Project” That Took Me From UK To Australia
May 07, 2022
Audiobook

 

I did not set out to intentionally read books with the word ‘project’ in the title. It just happened. Two novels that came to my attention in quick succession seemed to have a deliberate focus towards the discovery or attainment of something – in one case, authenticity, a nebulous concept and in the other, a very specific person, Rosie. 

The fact that the books were set in the UK and Australia, countries that are located almost diametrically opposite each other on the globe, in different hemispheres, made it even more fun! I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook format for both books.

Try them as part of your Reading Project in 2022.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Audiobook narrated by Anna Cordell

Monica’s cafe serves as a central location around which the fate of an assorted cast of characters twists and turns as they ponder on the authenticity of their lives. I opted for the audiobook narrated by Anna Cordell which turned out to be an added bonus. The plot is set in contemporary London and with Cordell’s British accent I was instantly transported to a far away country that had become made far more inaccessible, thanks to the pandemic. 

A little green notebook that is the star of this novel,is initiated by Julian, an artist past his prime. He writes the first entry, a note about the absence of authenticity in our modern day lives and leaves it in Monica’s cafe. As the book makes its way across the world and into the hands of the bunch of characters whose paths intersect, either through fate or deliberate acts, we get to know Riley, the handsome young Australian, Hazard, the former banker and addict, Alice, a young mother who is an Instagram influencer, among others.

As every chapter unfolds from the point of view of each of the characters, it soon becomes apparent that everyone’s life is not exactly what it seems to be on the surface. When each person feels compelled to add the truth about their own life into the little green book, it seems to unleash a string of unusual events that first pulls away from the expected trajectory but soon turns around to circle back to Monica’s Cafe and the people gathered there for a purpose that shapes up to be greater than the originally intended painting class.

The book makes some impossible leaps but all is forgiven as the story comes together nicely in the end. Even though it treads lightly on some serious matters, it all boils down to whether we are willing to be vulnerable and share the truth about our deepest ourselves in this increasingly isolating digital world of make believe. 

My opinion:An easy and satisfying read, recommended for a summer/holiday weekend.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Audiobook narrated by Dan O’Grady

Have you met the character Sheldon in the show “Big Bang Theory”? Don Tillman, the protagonist of the story reminded me of Sheldon, a brilliant scientist with woefully inadequate social skills. At age 39 when Don embarks on a systematic experiment titled “The Wife Project”, he proceeds logically with an exhaustive questionnaire designed to find the perfect partner for himself. Although the list of criteria is long and includes items like smoking, meal preferences, and STDs, he is hopeful of finding the perfect spouse. 

As expected, Don’s plans go for a toss when he meets Rosie who fails most of his criteria. But she needs his expertise in genetics to find her biological father and thus the book gallops on a utterly serious but unexpected series of fun experiences as they launch “The Father project”. 

Although utterly hopeless at reading social cues, Don has an unusual way of gauging every person’s approximate age and BMI, a phenomenal memory that comes in handy for recalling trivia as well an ability to learn new things including dance steps very quickly. Despite his rigorous running and exercise routine that keeps him in excellent physical shape and his exceptional culinary skills, he is no great catch, thanks to his rigid opinions and inflexible schedule. 

The story is located in Australia but there is an exciting visit to New York city that moves the narrative forward by giving Don and Rosie exclusive time together. Rosie comes across as a regular young woman but it is Don who steals your heart with his unfailing logic, his dispassionate observations of human quirks and the deadpan seriousness with which he embraces his life. 

The book ends on a predictable happy note but not before we wonder about how ‘normal’ or ‘unique’ we each feel and what we are seeking when we set out to meet our ideal partner who we know is somewhere out there in the world. 

My opinion: An engaging and fun romantic comedy to brighten up your holiday.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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