Review: This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann

Title: This Has Been Absolutely Lovely

Author: Jessica Dettmann

Published: 6th January 2021, HarperCollins Australia

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy HarperCollins/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, Jessica Dettmann’s sophomore novel, was my first read for the new year, and happily, an ideal selection.

Witty, warm, sharp and sincere, this is a story of responsibilities, regrets, secrets, anxieties, dreams and dysfunction, as the family of Annie Jones, which includes her three adult children, their partners and offspring, her ex-husband, and the man he left her for, gathers under the same roof for Annie’s father’s funeral in the days before Christmas.

No family is without complications, but at this particular moment, Annie’s can be said to have more complications than most. Though she had imagined that with her father’s passing she would finally be free to pursue her own dreams, as the week unfolds, Annie begins to doubt that escaping the needs of her family will ever a possibility.

I quickly became invested in the characters of This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, even though I had little in common with them. They are realistic and nuanced, as are the dynamics between them. Annie garnered my complete sympathy, her daughter, Molly, not so much. I felt sorry for Simon’s wife, Diana, while Annie’s friend, Jane, made me laugh.

Taking place in the northern coastal suburbs of Sydney over the Christmas period, the details of the setting are very familiar, as I spent several summer holidays with cousins who lived in the same area. We too made the daily pilgrimages to the beach, ate meals in the back yard, and played hide and seek among the plumbago.

Dettmann’s writing is perceptive, tender and poignant, deftly portraying the complexities of the modern family, and exploring themes of choice, resentment, expectation, freedom, and creativity. An absolutely lovely read.


Available from HarperCollins Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. victoria7401
    Jan 06, 2021 @ 12:19:41

    My interest is piqued ! What a great title

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Mareli Thalwitzer
    Jan 06, 2021 @ 20:37:19

    Love the title! It makes me think of a real stiff upper-lip English Lady. Sounds like a good read and I’m glad that your first read of the year was a good one. Mine was too!

    Have a good week!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Jan 06, 2021 @ 22:16:43

    What an unusual title for a poignant book like this! And anew Aussie acethor to follow!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Literary Feline
    Jan 07, 2021 @ 02:45:41

    This sounds like the perfect choice to start off the new year. I am glad you enjoyed it, Shelleyrae.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Helen Murdoch
    Jan 07, 2021 @ 09:12:08

    This sounds like a nice book and a great way to begin a new year of reading.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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