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Book review: The Girl on the Page by John Purcell

If there’s one thing I like even better than books, it’s books about … books. John Purcell’s The Girl on the Page is delightfully obsessed with books – the different types, whether literary or general fiction, the publishing industry, and the writers behind the books we love to read.

As a former bookseller and Booktopia Director of Books, it is a topic about which Purcell is very familiar.

But The Girl on the Page isn’t just about books. It is also about life, love, loneliness and family.

The reader is introduced to its protagonist, Amy when she is half dressed, and propositioning her well-endowed lover.

From there, Amy explains her work as the brains behind a publishing superstar. While her success means the never has to work again, Amy’s passion for publishing – and her cowriter – means that she continues on in her job and has a front row view of all of its excess. And this suits Amy, who loves nothing more than a bit of excess.

When Amy meets a couple of literary icons, she finds that there is more to life than sex and fast fiction. In Helen and Malcolm, Purcell provides us with insight into Amy’s evolution.

This results in discussions about the value of literary fiction, as opposed to the page-turners that Amy produces and readers adore.

Somehow, through the fascinating and irresistible character of Amy, Purcell makes this discussion entirely mainstream, not just for book nerds like me.

I loved the characters, the storyline and the literary debate, all tied up in a thoroughly readable book. It was smart and readable – perfectly walking the line between the literary and mainstream fiction. I’m late to the party after The Girl on the Page attracted a lot of interest when it was released a few years ago, but it’s a book I would recommend without hesitation.

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