The Bright Side of Life by Annette Freeman

Annette Freeman has written a few books so far: two travel memoirs and an account of her fabulous (but sadly short-lived) bookshop in Sydney.  ‘The Bright Side of Life’ is her first work of fiction.  It is funny, and light.

The Bright Side of Life by Annette Freeman

‘It all looked good to Charlie.’

Charlie Brightman is an Australian in London.  He has an acting scholarship, and is looking for a job in the theatre. He’ll do anything, well almost anything, to make it in the theatre.  And, even in the Dengate Theatre in Soho, there seem to be opportunities – even if Charlie has to work without pay.  But then his acting scholarship is cancelled, and Charlie desperately needs money.  So, what’s an aspiring young actor to do?

Charlie takes a job in the country, and things go from bad to worse to better (maybe).  Can Charlie find a paying job?  Has he found the woman of his dreams?  Charlie remains convinced that everything will work out fine, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Will it work out in the end?

I laughed my way through this novel.  Charlie is such an irrepressible optimist, and while he’s an incompetent fool, I really wanted to know what would happen next. Charlie and his friends are adept at making questionable decisions, and avoiding sound ones. At times I thought I heard echoes of an updated 21st century version of Barry McKenzie, but Charlie would never be such an ocker Australian.  He takes himself far too seriously for that.

Ms Freeman has written a number of books, but this is her first novel.  It’s light, it’s funny and it’s well worth reading – just don’t take it too seriously.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith


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