#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann

Title: This Has Been Absolutely Lovely

Author: Jessica Dettmann

Published: January 6th 2021

Publisher: Harper Collins – AU

Pages: 384

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

Family is forever, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The charming, hilarious and all-too-relatable new novel from the author of How to be Second Best

‘Dettmann nails the funny, sad and bizarre nuances of family life in this gripping novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes’ Sally Hepworth

Molly’s a millennial home organiser about to have her first baby. Obviously her mum, Annie, will help with the childcare. Everyone else’s parents are doing it.

But Annie’s dreams of music stardom have been on hold for thirty-five years, paused by childbirth then buried under her responsibilities as a mother, wage earner, wife, and only child of ailing parents. Finally, she can taste freedom.

As Molly and her siblings gather in the close quarters of the family home over one fraught summer, shocking revelations come to light. Everyone is forced to confront the question of what it means to be a family.

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story about growing up and giving in, of parents and children, of hope and failure, of bravery and defied expectation, and whether it is ever too late to try again.

Review:

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, a term often used by Jessica Dettmann’s own grandmother when guests have overstayed their welcome, is a gratifying and amusing read. With relatable characters and connective themes, This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story that will appeal to a wide audience range.

Molly brings Jessica Dettmann’s new novel to life. An expectant new mother when we meet her, Molly is naturally anxious about becoming a mother for the first time. But Molly knows she will have her ever reliant mother Annie on hand to help. However, Molly’s mother Annie is a woman who has broken hopes and dreams. Over three decades ago Annie shelved her plans for music stardom. With motherhood getting in the way of her musical career, Annie fulfilled the expectations placed on her as a mother, carer and employee. Now Annie can finally see freedom on the horizon, but will her new grandchild get in the way of her plans? But a big secret comes to light that will have a direct impact on both Molly, Annie and their whole family. Will the family survive this shock revelation and what will life be like afterwards?

The general consensus around This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is that it is a charming book. I found Jessica Dettmann’s second release to be witty, funny and realistic. What this book does really well is highlight the exact everyday struggles faced by families. For a follow up novel to a highly regarded debut, Jessica Dettmann has proved that she is a skilled and talented writer in the contemporary fiction field. I know that Jessica Dettmann has made it to my auto buy list, as she has for many other readers out there in search of a solid women’s fiction novel.

It can be tricky to balance serious themes such as parenting, motherhood, obligations, roles, responsibilities, life choices, love, relationships, family conflict, mental health, personal secrets, friendships, birth, grief, loss and addiction in the form of a witty and in touch contemporary novel. However, I feel that Jessica Dettmann is no novice in terms of her theme development and her deep understanding of common life issues. In This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, we are presented with a multitude of issues and problems. Dettmann is deliberate in her approach, issuing her readers with a realistic, authentic, insightful and intuitive look at the scenarios faced by her cast. It was also comforting to witness a dysfunctional family just a crazy as my own! Thank you Jessica!

Dettmann’s characterisation is to be commended. Moving from a mother figure, a daughter, husband and more, Dettmann’s approach is knowing and on point.  With flawed and troublesome protagonists leading the way, the reader caught up in a variety of family spot fires, trying situations and general interactions. I managed to feel both sympathy and frustration with Dettmann’s characters, which is always a good sign – I definitely enjoyed my time with this cast. This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a book that really makes you feel human, we have all been through these problems in some form or another!

Told with plenty of positivity, wisdom and of course Dettmann’s signature charm, This Has Been Absolutely Lovely presents both funny and serious in the one format. Jessica’s Dettmann’s follow up novel to How to be Second Best was a great book to close the summer reading season on. I hope you can experience all this novel has to offer!

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann was published on 6th January 2021 by Harper Collins –AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, Jessica Dettmann, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Harper Collins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is book #13 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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