When we were offered an advance copy of this month’s book, the publisher told us that its agent was so hooked on the manuscript she left a party with Mick Jagger just so she could finish reading it. They told us it was the talk of The London Book Fair; that it was boisterously funny with moments of life-affirming intimacy. Did we want to read it? Why, of course we did.
Green Dot, the debut novel from Australian writer and critic Madeleine Gray, is an irresistible and messy love story about the terrible allure of wanting something that promises nothing. It follows Hera Stephen, a woman in her mid-twenties with no less than three arts degrees, who meets a married, middle-aged journalist while working as an online comment moderator. Intoxicated by the promise of ordinary happiness he represents, Hera falls headlong into a workplace romance that everyone, including her, knows is doomed to fail.
And if that all sounds awful, well, that’s kind of the point. Green Dot is about not being on your best behaviour. It’s about smart people making bad decisions. It’s about self-deception, longing, the joys and indignities of coming into adulthood against the pitfalls of the twenty-first century. It’s funny and gutsy and witty, often dark, sometimes maddening, and always entirely enthralling.