Other People’s Diaries by Kathy Webb

4802169It is the process that went into the writing of this book that first attracted me to reading it—Australian sisters Kris Webb and Kathy Wilson write under the pen name of Kathy Webb.

The fact that they live in different parts of the world and have to contend with different time zones and young families doesn’t seem to stop them as they also have under their belt two other successful novels Sacking the Stork and Inheriting Jack.

They write a scene or take a character as far as they can then send the result to the other sister to pick up from where one left off. Why didn’t I think of that? Would definitely help the old writer’s block!

Other People’s Diaries
Alice Day is a one-time famous author who hasn’t written anything good for over ten years. She is a stay-at-home mum who has lost any confidence she once had in writing anything half decent again.

Her first book, Her Life, My Life was inspired by her grandmother, a mother of nine children who took pleasure in the simple old-fashioned things that life sent her way, and was a huge hit. The follow-up was a flop.

When Alice asks herself the question “what is happiness and who is really happy with their life”, she comes up with a plan that involves five complete strangers writing about their lives and sharing it on a website.

The Red Folder Project involves a blog, simple tasks set by Alice to help them change their lives for the better, along the way posting the results on a confidential website, the idea being to turn the outcome from each personal experiment and journey into a book. But Alice gets more that she bargained for.

Characters in Other People’s Diaries
It is the characters that drive this book – ordinary everyday people with the normal complications and problems that we all face in life.

Kerry, the only man in the group, is a recently divorced father who hates his job in the family business and is still in love with his ex-wife.

Claire is unable to have a baby and her declining marriage is nearing its end.

Megan hates her job as a teacher and is in a relationship with a married man that is going nowhere.

Rebecca has a full on career and is trying to balance her complex working life with parenthood – she is the mother of a sixteen-year-old girl who hates her and a three-year-old toddler who she leaves behind each day with a nanny she can’t stand.

Lillian is a retired, gentle soul who is facing a long process of diagnosing a mysterious disease.

Alice makes up the six – all of which have nothing really in common except the fact that they would like to be happier in their lives.

The six cover many spectrums of the problems we all face in day-to-day life that readers are bound to relate to one, or even just one aspect of each character.

Plot in Other People’s Diaries
Each chapter in the novel takes on some aspect of the journey for each of the characters and the transition from one to the other reads like a diary entry.

The idea of being a fly on the wall and being able to read other people’s diaries may not appeal to all but this is an easy read and when an unexpected betrayal in the group spells disaster, it tackles the question of real privacy in this day of social networking.

Other People’s Diaries is a light yet interesting read that tackles some of the questions people are often too busy to ask of themselves.

Other People’s Diaries (Pan Macmillan, 2008, ISBN: 978 1 4050 38508, 339 pages.)

My rating: ★★★

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