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It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian
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It’s Been A Pleasure, Noni Blake is the second novel by Australian novelist and playwright, Claire Christian. Eighteen months out of a nine-year relationship, Noni Blake is still, unintentionally, celibate, until a one-night-stand with the firefighter. The tragic event that follows is the impetus to stop “putting on twelve kilos, dyeing my hair too dark, spending way too much money on therapy” and start trying again.

The result of a late-night drinking session with her best friend since third grade, Lindell and his partner, Graham, is the list of the Should-Have-Boned. Ever her sounding board for all things, Lindell supports and encourages her to take the big step: Europe, and the last name on that list, Molly. “Doing this may disrupt the very comfortable fabric of my life. And that’s petrifying, because I’m very comfortable here. I know how things work. How I work. I’m happy being relatively unhappy.”

When Molly becomes a major disappointment, Noni’s unfailing London friends step in to comfort and distract, and an Edinburgh retreat results in Noni’s Pleasure Quest. This includes quite a lot of sex, a trip to Amsterdam, a tattoo (and encountering a Viking-like tattoo artist, Beau).

It’s likely that Noni, both in thought and action, will initially strike the reader as immature: thirty-six going on sixteen. She lacks self-esteem, has body image issues, fails to listen to the inner voice, and makes poor decisions, some of which she justifies with “Sometimes we need to experience things to know they’re what we don’t want.” She does, eventually, get it together (“I feel like an idiot for thinking diving into my past would change anything about the present”), even if she spends way too long in angsty self-analysis.

There’s copious use of expletives which, while perhaps fitting for the characters and their cohort, may bother some readers, as may Noni’s rampant promiscuity and the explicit sexual descriptions. But Christian does have a way with words: “Like I’m a blob of paint and a brush has come in and swirled me in a perfect circle” and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Christian does give her characters some wise words and insightful comments: “I think aging is actually just about getting used to yourself, you know? Getting used to the way you are, the way you work, the way you process things, the weird things that make you unique. I think we spend so much time early on figuring that out. Or fighting against it.” While it won’t appeal to everyone, Claire Christian’s second novel is funny and ultimately feel-good.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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Reading Progress

October 26, 2020 – Started Reading
October 26, 2020 – Shelved
October 27, 2020 –
October 28, 2020 –
October 28, 2020 –
October 29, 2020 – Finished Reading

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