Lilian Quick is 40, single, and childless, working as a pet portrait artist. She paints the colored light only she can see, but animal aura portraits are a niche market at best. She's working hard to build her brand on social media and struggling to pay the rent. This satire asks us: How do we recognize authenticity when storytelling and magic have been co-opted by marketing?
The literary equivalent of zooming out from the perfectly lit avocado toast sitting on a charming window sill to the dank, cramped apartment that your favourite lifestyle blogger actually lives in ... Selecky’s work is smart and subtle. But there were areas I wanted more, for instance, a deeper read into how Lillian’s ideas around self-actualization were changing — the character seemed a little too uncritical to be believable. But maybe that’s the point, that it’s sometimes easier to skim the surface of your real problems while doing a deep dive in your Insta feed.
Selecky masterfully mimics the marketing-speak of “gurus” like [the character] Eleven: an endless cycle of metaphor and hyperbole, pet names for her followers (“petals,” “darlings”) and a cultish adaptation of language for her own purposes ... Although the cousins’ back story is solidly written, Selecky excels when she focuses on the world of self-promotion. The novel halts frequently to make room for its characters’ exhaustive social media posts ... Alongside these delicious satirical moments, Selecky includes occasional respite from the jargon, particularly when Lilian’s friend Juliette is on the page ... The novel, at its core, examines the nature of genuine friendship, freed from the need to build a brand.
Biting, tragicomic ... Selecky’s deadpan tone, punchy writing, and vivid characters transport readers to a specific, highly diverting world that hits close to the bone and sparks the self-reflection it’s spoofing.