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The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley | Book Review |

“Preparation is the key to effective spontaneity.”
― Clare Pooley, The Authenticity Project

After reading The People on Platform 5, I was hugely curious about more writings by Clare Pooley and ended up picking The Authenticity Project which incidentally is her first book.

Title: The Authenticity Project

Author: Clare Pooley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My rating: 5/5 stars

Publisher: Penguin Books


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Just like The People on Platform 5, Clare Pooley uses a central thread to link strangers who are invited to spill out their truths in a diary titled The Authenticity Project. The diary is left behind on purpose to be found and picked up by the next person. In this way near about a dozen people come together through this project.

The human factor comes into play and each person finds themselves intrigued by the previous story and sets out to “help” sort their life. So consumed are they with this project that they forget their own troubles for a brief while till disaster decides to intervene.

“in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
― Clare Pooley, The Authenticity Project

Julian Jessop is an elderly widower and a semi-retired artist who was known for his art in an era gone by and has initiated this writing chain.

Monica is a 30 something who was a hotshot  lawyer in another life till she gave it all up to open a coffee shop which is where she finds the diary left behind by some patron.

Hazard is a washed up junkie who has recently lost his job and heads off to Thailand to do a self detox. But before that he finds the diary in a wine bar and does his bit for it.

Riley is a twentyish Aussie guy from Perth where he works as a gardener and is currently traveling wherever the will takes him. He bumps into Hazard who quietly inserts the diary in his backpack.

Alice is a veritable force on social media and has recently experienced motherhood but is struggling to find her feet in her home, marriage and parenthood. She find the diary on a swing in the nearby park.

Lizzy is a retired midwife and nurse who lends a helping hand at the daycare centre. She finds the diary on the floor of the nursery and delves into it.

Baz lives with his parents and grandmother Betty Wu who cannot understand why her grandson is unhappy with his Chinese heritage and name. He is in love with Benji at Monica’s cafe.

Mrs. Wu is an amazing cook and a Tai Chi instructor and is very strongly opinionated and proud of her heritage and age.

“She thought of all her new friends, with their lives that didn’t look beautiful on an Instagram square, yet who were so much deeper, stronger and more interesting than that.” ― Clare Pooley, The Authenticity Project

All of them come together to wreak havoc at first (in each other’s life) and then bring about a sense of community in their midst.

Julian leaves the diary in Monica’s cafe where she finds it. After writing in it, she initiates a plan to find work for Julian and infuse some zeal in his life. Hazard is the next one to write in the diary and decides to give a push to Monica’s idea for Julian. Then he is hit with a brainwave to sort out Monica’s life. He passes on the diary to Riley who has no clue that he has just been enmeshed in the authenticity project.

One by one, each player comes into the mix and the enrich the story with their eccentricities. In the beginning it’s help which later becomes chaos and finally settles down into a gentle rhythm of communal harmony. While helping others, each one discovers strengths of their own which lets them make sensible decisions for themselves too.

What I liked:

This book has explored the contemporary theme of loneliness largely from the POV of single hood. The notion of fending for oneself and doing it solo, tends to alienate self perspective. One becomes selfish and grouchy at times too as the overall feelings of the-whole-world-is-against-me and nothing-will-ever-go-right-for-me threatens to overwhelm us. But when one finds a tribe, life becomes rosy and wholesome again.

What I didn’t like:

I couldn’t my head wrapped around how easily Monica swayed from one perfect bloke onto someone so unsuitable. Reciprocally, how did the second one develop feelings so suddenly for her? Her romantic life and suitors were the only fly in the ointment for me.


Pick it up for a hearty and light read to refresh from a heavy reading. The book feels like a warm hug and almost makes me yearn to find such a diary myself too.

If you are looking for another light and witty then perhaps you would like to check out The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley here

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I am an avid book hoarder and reader who loves to write about her opinions on books she reads. If you would like to have an honest review of your book by me; please drop me a mail on with :

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8 thoughts on “The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley | Book Review |

  1. WOW! Even I would love to find such a diary! What an idea for a book! I wonder what I would write in it…
    What would you share, Shalz?

    1. I know this would be so exciting. I am not sure how much truth I would put in there or would I share a view thats acceptable and liked. What would you do?

    1. Thats so good to hear that my recommendation worked for you. I am sure you will love this one too. Thanks so much Ritu for letting me know that you picked the book on my recommendation.

  2. I did find a diary recently and it was anything but joyful. It broke my heart so husband won’t let me keep it. This post reminded me of that. If I hadn’t got that diary I wouldn’t have believed how one’s life can be impacted by someone else. I will bookmark this for future reads.

    1. Oh dear, that sounds terrible and cannot imagine the distress. Here I was looking forward to finding such a diary and taking on the ride but now I would be cautious in opening it. I do hope you read this book for its a pretty feel-good story that one needs often to reassure themselves that all can be right in the world

  3. I absolutely loved People on Platform 5, which is why I reached out to you for a review of this one – and here it is. I have already downloaded it. Now looking forward to reading it.

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