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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.4 out of 5
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  • AH-MAZING!

    Loved it! Had me enthralled from the start! Couldn't put it down!

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  • enjoyable read and tender narrative of running awa

    Australian author Kim Lock’s fourth novel is The Other Side of Beautiful and involves an unexpected road trip from Adelaide to Darwin. Mercy Blain is a paediatrician who hasn’t gone outside for two years, when her house burns down. So begins a journey both physical and life engaging that questions the meaning of pain and suffering. More than a travel log or tribute to grey nomads, this general fiction is an exposé of one woman’s grief and its culminative nature. An enjoyable read and tender narrative of running away, only to turn full circle to the same but new. A three-star rating, with thanks to Harlequin Australia and the author for an uncorrected proof copy for review purposes.

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  • Funny, heart-warming and uplifting.

    The Other Side Of Beautiful is the fourth novel by Australian author, Kim Lock. The day after her thirty-sixth birthday, two days after her house has burnt to the ground, Mercy Blain leaves: “In a tiny beat-up van that was almost as old as she was, with her Dachshund beside her and the wind in her hair, Mercy’s whole world was rattling north along a rural South Australian highway, with only the borrowed clothes on her back, cheap thongs on her feet and adrenaline pulsing through her veins. She had absolutely no idea where she was going, or what she was going to do.” Her not-quite-ex-husband had come to her immediate rescue with a place to stay, as she stood on the nature strip in front of the fire but, despite his undeniable care for her, remaining in his house is intolerable. The Daihatsu HiJet with its hand-painted epithet (Home is wherever you ARE) presents a solution: “For two years Mercy had not left her home but now she had a home she could carry with her. Like a hermit crab. Or more accurately, given her speed on the road, a snail.” Driving with a vague aim to reach the country’s northern shores, when she discovers a box of cremains (Jenny Cleggett) in the sparsely outfitted van, Mercy decides to return to Adelaide, but a certain huntsman spider spoils that plan; she continues northwards, appreciating the company of her loyal dog, Wasabi, and encountering quirky Grey Nomads, intimidating road trains, a rather attractive touring Scot, and a certain journalist who contributed to her pain two years earlier. While the unenviable circumstances of her marriage break-up might have been to upset anyone’s equilibrium, and it certainly destabilised her, this wasn’t the sole impetus to withdraw from the world, but Mercy scrupulously avoids discussing, and even thinking about, what happened, so the reader pieces the story together bit by bit as Mercy eventually opens up to the kindness of strangers. Mercy’s lack of preparation will have the heads of veteran nomads shaking, but provide amusement, as do Mercy’s haircut with a paring knife, escape through a toilet window, drunken phone call, beer-garden dancing and much of the dialogue: “‘What’s the collective noun for a group of caravans?’ Andy pondered it. ‘A swagger.’ ‘A gloat?’ ‘A boast.’ ‘A grandstand.’ Andy asked, ‘What’s the opposite of an apology? A confession?’ ‘A flagrant?’ ‘An entitlement?’ This went on for a while, back and forth, until Andy finally suggested, ‘An ostentation. An ostentation of caravans,’ at which Shiraz came out of Mercy’s nose and the subject was settled.” Lock manages to cover some potentially sensitive topics with humour and insight, and wraps them all in marvellous descriptive prose. Her portrayal of panic attacks is both highly credible and informative, as “moments of fear strung together like beads on a wire of anticipation” and “Besides the terror, the sense of doom and the pounding heart, one of the things she found most trying about panic attacks was how tiring they were” illustrate. Funny, heart-warming and uplifting. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and HQ Fiction.

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  • The other side of beautiful

    Loved all of it, really engaging, clipped along at a good pace. Read over 2 days during Covid lockdown

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  • Wheere fiction meets true life

    This story gets you inby th end im nderlining every second para to remember every clesr message thst might serve to get me through the redt of my life to the hereand now surviving grief accepting pain andgoing past the sufferingi

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