Title: The Helpline
Author: Katherine Collette
Published: September 3rd 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Humour
Rating: 4 stars
Germaine Johnson may not be all that good with people but she’s great with numbers. Unfortunately, as she discovers after the incident at Wallace Insurance, there are very few openings these days for senior mathematicians.
Then her cousin gets her a job at the council. On the Senior Citizens Helpline.
It’s not the resume entry Germaine wanted—but it turns out Mayor Verity Bainbridge has something more interesting in mind for her. A secret project involving the troublemakers at the senior citizens centre and their feud with the golf club next door. Which is run by the strangely attractive Don Thomas.
Don and the mayor want the seniors closed down.
Germaine wants what Don and the mayor want. But when she’s forced to get to know the ‘troublemakers’—things get more complicated.
A sharp, witty, big-hearted comedy from a hilarious new Australian writer, Katherine Collette’s The Helpline is about people power and brain power—and the difficulty of getting them to work together.
It is with delight that I introduce you to Katherine Collette, a fresh new voice in Australian contemporary fiction. The Helpline is Katherine Collette’s amusing, offbeat and dynamic debut novel, featuring a larger than life lead, Germaine Johnson. The Helpline is a comical and lively rendition to a mathematician who finds herself cast as an unlikely heroine, in a bid to save a local senior citizens centre. The results are both hilarious and endearing.
Meet Germaine Johnson, a woman with a passion for anything mathematics related. She loves pie charts, algorithms and the like. What she doesn’t do too well is people. However, when she finds herself unemployed, Germaine takes up a new position on a senior citizens helpline. In this new position, Germaine crosses paths with the local mayor. Germaine is thrust into a top secret project involving the local senior citizens centre. Through this role, Germaine meets Don Thomas, a handsome man who runs the local golf club. What follows is a push-pull story of the struggle to save the senior citizens centre, along with Germaine’s personal journey of self discovery.
The Helpline is a story that has an array of positive elements. The overall concept, which is a fish out of water tale of a senior mathematician who finds herself at the forefront of a senior citizens centre scandal, is very entertaining. The lead character, Germaine, is quirky and loveable. Germaine is a character that will soon grow on you. The setting is fantastic and well rendered. While the plot provides plenty of amusement, as well as distraction from everyday life.
I turned to The Helpline during a mid-week slump. It was the perfect pick me up. Although it is light and funny, there are insightful, as well as compelling moments. What I also appreciated most about this tale was the opportunity to discover a debut Australian writer and I loved Katherine Collette’s approach. I’m keen to delve into more of her writing in the near future!
Collette’s characterisation is warm and genuine. The players in The Helpline, both major and minor, are carefully constructed. I really enjoyed their interactions, reactions and dialogue. It is impossible not to let Germaine into your heart, she may take a little time to warm to, but I enjoyed being a part of Germaine’s pathway to self realisation. This was a special journey and the characters touched by Germaine’s presence were well worth getting to know.
What I reaped from my reading of The Helpline was a sense of benevolence, a better understanding of those on the fringes of society and the power of connection. I loved how the book was told from the first person perspective of Germaine Johnson, a woman who in some instances may be viewed as unusual, but Katherine Collette gives this character a chance to shine. I loved the extra touch of the mathematical based diagrams and charts included in the text, which gives us a better appreciation for Germaine’s mode of thinking.
As the sticker states on the back of The Helpline, this is a guaranteed great read. Make sure you seek this one out if you need a personal pick me up. Guaranteed laughs all round and a touching character story to match.
The Helpline by Katherine Collette was published on 3rd September 2018 by Text Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Helpline, Katherine Collette visit here
*I wish to thank Text Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Helpline, is book #117 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge