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The Work (Bri Lee, A&U)

Having tackled power, privilege and sexual politics in her nonfiction books, Eggshell Skull, Beauty and Who Gets to Be Smart, Bri Lee brings the same shrewd scrutiny to her debut novel, The Work. In part a love story between Lally, a respected Manhattan gallerist, and Pat, a junior antiquities dealer in Sydney, the book is also a fascinating exploration of the moral murkiness at the intersection of art and commerce. Lee is unafraid of presenting realistically complicated characters who often make uncomfortable decisions in their struggle to reconcile their passion for art (and each other) with their desire for success. Having fought hard for their positions, Pat and Lally are hyper-attuned to the systemic injustices with which they are personally familiar—while happy not to examine too closely their privilege in other areas (and the behaviours this privilege allows them to get away with). The tension and rising stakes of these deftly plotted career storylines make for riveting reading, even though their sudden, neat conclusions in the final chapters left me wishing that the consequences of Pat’s and Lally’s choices had been pushed even further. The conclusion of their romantic journey, however, does feel earned, and their growth as a couple is satisfyingly believable. Intelligent, sexy, and totally engrossing, The Work should be snapped up by fans of Diana Reid and Caroline O’Donoghue.

Read our interview with author Bri Lee about The Work here.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Friday Unlocked reviews Reviews