Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards [6/10]

My reading in the second half of 2022 seems to have toggled from widescreen high dramas to small-canvas intimate tales. “Small Joys of Real Life” is my second in-the-moment, first-person account of a pregnancy in inner-city Melbourne. When talented but dissatisfied actor Eva finds herself pregnant after a whirlwind dalliance with charismatic Pat, whose death plunges Eva into an existential crisis. A feature of the novel is the marvelous tapestry of Eva’s deeply embedded friendships with chaotic Sarah and dependable Annie.

Small Joys of Real Life operates on a tiny canvas of experiences and decisions over the course of Eva’s pregnancy, full of low-key drama and real-life urgency. As with another recent immersive novel, the lack of gasp-worthy plot cliffs meant that Eva’s story fascinated me but failed to connect deeply. Nonetheless, the author is an assured, in-control stylist who offered me new, valuable insights. Recommended.

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