Title: The One and the Only Dolly Jamieson
Author: Lisa Ireland
Published: January 10th 2023
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Life is full of downs and ups . . .
Dolly Jamieson is not homeless, she’s merely between permanent abodes. The 78-year-old spends her days keeping warm at the local library, where she enjoys sparring with the officious head librarian and helping herself to the free morning tea. It’s not so bad, really.
But it’s certainly a far cry from the 1960s, when this humble girl from Geelong became an international star of the stage. As the acclaimed lead in the Broadway production of The Rose of France, all Dolly’s dreams had come true.
So how, in her old age, did she end up here?
When Jane Leveson, a well-to-do newcomer to the library, shows an interest in Dolly, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship – and soon Jane is offering to help Dolly write her memoirs.
Yet Dolly can detect a deep sadness in the younger woman’s eyes. Perhaps by working together to recount the glittering highs, devastating lows and tragic secrets of Dolly’s life, both women can finally face their pasts and start to heal . . .
The One and Only Dolly Jamieson is the seventh novel from Victorian writer Lisa Ireland. A high spirited story with a strong beating heart, The One and Only Dolly Jamieson will fully embrace you from the first chapter to the close of this tender tale.
Travelling back in time to the swinging sixties, we meet the indelible Dolly Jamieson, a shining star in the theatre and entertainment world. After a number of successful stints on the stage in New York and Britain, Dolly has lived a full and memorable life. However, decades later Dolly is at rock bottom. Now homeless, Dolly’s main source of shelter is the local library. As Dolly reflects on her life, she wonders how her fortunes changed so quickly. When Dolly encounters a woman named Jane one day in the library, Dolly’s faith in society is restored. It’s been quite some time since anyone acknowledged Dolly. Jane and Dolly eventually become confidants and this unexpected friendship leads into the production of Dolly’s colourful memoir. Pensive, hopeful, uplifting and revealing, Lisa Ireland’s latest release is a poignant tale for all readers of general fiction.
I can’t believe Lisa Ireland has published her seventh novel and congratulations to this very talented Australian commercial fiction author. I’ve loved following Lisa’s journey and I always look forward to a new book from this gracious storyteller. With such a dramatic cover and showstopping title, I was eager to dive into The One and Only Dolly Jamieson.
Lisa Ireland has tapped into a range of issues in The One and the Only Dolly Jamieson that are very topical, relevant and sometimes ignored in our current lives. Incorporating themes of homelessness, displacement, invisibility, the lack of social connection, our reliance on technology aptitude in our modern world, social media identity, online bullying and the financial position of vulnerable older females, this is an up-to-date read. I didn’t expect to be moved by these issues as much as I did and as a result, I am very grateful to Lisa Ireland for raising my awareness of these essential talking points. Lisa Ireland has successfully presented these very human topics to her audience within her connective narrative approach. I really loved the chance to move back and forth in time with the titular character Dolly via Ireland’s dual timeline, as we gradually learn about Dolly’s colourful life. Ireland ensures that we are directly placed in the thick of action in relation to Dolly’s hardship as child, her rise to stardom, Broadway success, love life, heartbreaking decisions and fall from grace. The up close and personal approach is utilised by Ireland beautifully and this method of storytelling grants us a behind the scenes access pass to Dolly’s past life and her current struggles. Emotional, tender, heartbreaking yet spirited, I loved so much about this unforgettable tale.
Ireland does focus much of the novel on her larger-than-life lead Dolly, but we also follow the complicated life of another woman, Jane. An unlikely friendship spurns between Jane and Dolly in the local library and these moments are the most meaningful and deeply touching sequences of the story. The humility Dolly displays in these pockets of the tale are just so touching. Through Jane’s personal experiences we gain an insight into online personalities, social media shaming and loss. I got the greatest enjoyment out of the friendship that developed between Jane and Dolly. This relationship reminded me that lasting connections can be found in the most unexpected places and times in your life, with people you would not generally cross paths with, but the universe sometimes has plans for us! I need to quickly mention in closing the historical areas of Lisa Ireland’s new novel. I lapped these components of the story up rather feverishly, which is thanks to the storytelling skills of this talented Australian author. I just loved how you brought Dolly’s world and predicament to the full attention of the reader in this exquisite tale Lisa! The end was simply perfect, I was left with a small tear but a contented heart.
The One and the Only Dolly Jamieson by Lisa Ireland was published on January 10th 2023 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The One and the Only Dolly Jamieson, Lisa Ireland, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.