I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Manhattan Dreaming by Anita Heiss
Published by Random House Australia on 2010
Genres: fiction, romance & chicklit
Source: ARC received from publisher
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Lauren is a curator at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra. She's good at her job, passionate about the Arts, and takes work seriously. It's easy for Lauren to focus on work, that is, when she's not focussing on Adam. Lauren is smitten with, or as her friends say, obsessed with Adam - the halfback for the Canberra Cockatoos. But Adam is a player, on and off the field. To everyone other than Lauren, it is clear that Adam doesn't want to be in a relationship at all, even though he likes being with Lauren. In a few short months Adam is involved in one too many scandals that make the press. She is shattered and breaks it off though she can't quite let go. When she tries to convince her friends that she is waiting for Adam to have his epiphany and realise they are meant to be together, her friends decide to do an intervention on her. Under pressure from them, Lauren successfully applies for her dream job at the Smithsonian in New York. She leaves for the Big Apple, telling herself, that Adam will miss her so much he will see the light and eventually come begging.
I don’t generally read a lot of chick lit, possibly because I have so little in common with the upwardly mobile urban professionals that often feature as the central character. I realise that the escapism factor is a large part of the appeal of these stories, but I tend more towards historical fiction when I’m looking for a break from my everyday life.
Having said that, I did enjoy Manhattan Dreaming. The story is light-hearted and fun and the central character Lauren is an appealing combination of intelligent competence professionally and ditzy clinginess in her personal life. I liked the setting in Canberra and New York and enjoyed the references to the Indigenous art world in both countries.
I think it was the art references that particularly drew me in. While the plot itself was light enough that I could relax and simply enjoy, the mention of several Indigenous artists and their work as well as some discussions about the role and promotion of Indigenous art added a more thoughtful element to the story. I loved that even while I was filing away a comment on how “our material culture is often considered artefact rather than art and displayed in museums rather than galleries” for further thought, I could be smiling with amusement at Lauren’s ability to find both friends and delicious pastries wherever she went.
I think that it is fantastic to read Indigenous characters written by an author with an obvious passion for and connection with the Australian Indigenous community. I had the opportunity to chat with Anita Heiss and her intelligent discussion of the perception of Aboriginal culture in modern Australian society gave me plenty to consider while her positive outlook was very inspiring.
Since chatting with Anita, I have ordered a copy of her YA novel Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937 (my review), a story highlighting the impact of the Stolen Generation, and I am looking to get involved in the local activities to support the Indigenous Literacy Project, an initiative with which she is involved as an ambassador. Hopefully we will be able to organise a Great Book Swap event locally to support Indigenous Literacy Day in September.
This is review is part of my contribution to the Literary Road Trip hosted by GalleySmith. I am highlighting authors from New South Wales, Australia.