Lia Weston’s third novel is a change of pace from her previous novel, Those Pleasant Girls. This time, the main character is male and rather than fixing his life, we start with Tom cheerfully swanning through his life with no dramas, his own business and a disposable income – what more could he want? And what could possibly go wrong?
Tom has a business that specialises in faking it: Photoshopping images to make them look like your fantasy has really happened. Want to marry Channing Tatum? No worries, Tom & Co can do you a photo album of that!
Sure, there is plenty of humour to be found here, just as in Weston’s previous work, but there are darker, more serious undertones here that kept me thinking about this novel long after I’d finished it. What are the ethics around this? What happens when you find out you’ve made a wedding album for a stalker? And who owns these pictures really?
In the middle of the night, Tom can’t stop himself from finding quiet, deserted places around Melbourne where he paints works of art on the sides of buildings, many of them with a message, many just spectacularly beautiful. How is it that then he reconciles his need to create works of art with his Photoshopping? And when his friends and family start pulling him up on the fact that really, he is just skating through life, is it time to think about what he really wants?
Tom’s character, and the many other characters, are very well-rounded, so that none of them are all bad or good, and even when some of the worst betrayals happen at the hands of friends, you can still see that there is a reason for it. His relationship with his family is both entertaining and very real, especially with his much younger sister who is still in school.
Lia Weston is an Adelaide author who also runs a bicycle shop in the CBD, although at this rate she’ll be far too busy toasting success to go cycling!
Reviewed by Michelle Baylis
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: March 2018
RRP: $29.99 paperback