Cover Image: This Has Been Absolutely Lovely

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely

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Member Reviews

This really engaged me from the start. Everyone at one point in their lives gives up something big or small for someone they love or loved. It had a lot of funny moments that keep it going. A nice surprise!!
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What a treat ! The story opens at the funeral of Annie’s (a former semi famous rock star) father’s funeral and introduces a fantastic cast of characters . I nodded and laughed through so many of the observations made as this family , thrust together under one roof during the Xmas period , dealt with secrets and drama unfolding . Cannot wait to read more by this fantastic Australian author.  Massive thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to read and review
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Having been a massive fan of Dettman's first novel, I had been looking forward to this one for ages and was not disappointed at all. "This has been absolutely lovely" was a phrase Annie's mum used when she was growing up, to signal the end of a gathering. Annie, now a mother of three adult children and a grandmother, is now feeling this way about her family who come to stay after the death of her father. Annie and her husband and their best friend used to be pop singers and she almost sang at Eurovision until motherhood happened. Now her parents are dead and her children are grown and her husband is gay, she wants to rediscover her musical aspirations. But it seems her family has other plans for Annie as they rely on her once again to get them through a variety of dramas. A great read with a good dose of drama and great writing that keeps you wanting to turn the pages and ignore your own life. Loved this book and already looking forward to the next one!
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A fantastic story. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Would love to read more of her work.

So realistic and really compelling story about families and suburban life. The depiction of Christmas Day was especially emotional and riveting.

I loved it that the lead character was a woman of my own age group who was portrayed as still valid and vital. I loved how she stuck to her guns and followed her dreams, and how her family still survived without her to tell them what to do.

I also love reading an Australian story with realistic characters, not caricatures meant to please an overseas audience’s idea of what Australians are like.
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Annie's father has just died, and although she is somewhat upset, she also looks forward to some peace in the old sprawling house. She isn't going to get it! Annie's family, including her ex-husband and his partner (the other man in Annie's former band and her three grown-up children with their respective partners. Annie finds herself having to be a mother again because Simon has big problems and Molly is pregnant and in debt. Then there are dark secrets which are discovered. Annie is going to find herself with a lot on her hands...

This is an enjoyable and amusing family saga, but it wasn't relaxing because there is constant trouble! I wasn't really all that keen on Annie, a very free spirit, and the references are probably mostly suitable for women of a certain age. However, it's a good book to read if you like Australian family sagas.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I loved this book! The writing style was right up my alley, and I really appreciated the realness and the honesty that the characters demonstrated.

This story is very witty, the sense of humour was spot on. It was also super relatable, with the family's chaotic nature making me laugh along. The representation of motherhood was great, and I was completely engrossed in this story from start to finish.

Amazing read, highly recommend. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this absolutely lovely book!
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‘It was like a murder of crows had muscled in on a couple of pigeons.’

Back in the 1980s, Annie Jones was part of a mildly successful band named Love Triangle. But her dreams were derailed by family responsibilities. Thirty-five years later, with her parents now dead and her three children grown, Annie wonders whether she can try again.

But families are complicated. Annie’s family is together in the days before Christmas, to attend her father’s funeral and will then celebrate Christmas together. They are all staying in the home of her late parents. Meet Molly and her partner. Molly is pregnant with her first child. Meet Simon, his wife and child, who have flown in from Germany, and Naomi and her child. And then, there are the other two members of Love Triangle: Annie’s ex-husband Paul, and his partner Brian.

Molly wants Annie to help look after her baby, Simon wants Annie to sell the house. At least Naomi seems content. Can Annie find her own space, and freedom to pursue her dreams? Or is it too late?

‘This was impossible, Annie thought. How was she supposed to know who knew what about whom and if they did know how they had found out, and how long they had known for and what they were planning to do with information they may or may not have? This felt like picking up an Agatha Christie novel halfway through. It was a murder mystery, and the victim was Annie’s whole history.’

Ms Dettmann has peopled her novel with a delightful (mostly) collection of very human characters, with their anxieties, concerns, dreams, and regrets. Most of our view of events is delivered from the perspectives of Annie and Molly. There’s humour here, as well as all the complicated dynamics of family. An enjoyable read.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Author Jessica Dettmann cleverly delivers the most charming, witty and refreshing new novel named This Has Been Absolutely Lovely.

The characters are wonderfully portrayed and all too relatable.

It’s a story of a family’s dilemmas, with themes of relationships, blended families, dysfunctional families, resentment, regret, birth, death, escape, hope and dramatic secrets.

The drama takes place during the festive season and is set in Sydney Northern Beaches where all the family come together to stay under the one roof in the family home.

Our protagonist is Annie Jones, she has a past as a singer songwriter in a band. Annie chose to put her career on pause while raising her family and then after to care for her elderly parents who are now gone. 

Now a grandmother Annie still has her hopes and dreams of musical stardom but although her children are grown up they still make demands on her. Is it too late to try again and how hard is it as a mother to put yourself first?

The family dynamics were absolutely hilarious and at times sadly emotional.

Fast paced, engaging and wonderfully written. A super warm and absolutely lovely book that was so enjoyable I think that we need a sequel.
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I loved Dettman’s debut, How To Be Second Best, so I basically knocked down Netgalley’s door to grab a copy of this, her second published novel. (And they, and Harper Collins Australia came through -- thank you!) I’m happy to report there is no signs of the dreaded curse of the second novel and Dettmann has produced another winner.

Annie was part of a mildly successful 80s band and now that both of her parents have passed away and she seems to have free time, she has decided to try and get back into singing and songwriting. The only fly in the ointment is her daughter, Molly, who is pregnant and, Annie suspects, will need her mother to provide free childcare.

It’s Christmas and Annie’s other two children have also come to stay. Simon, who has returned home to Australia from Germany with his wife and children and obvious money issues, and Naomi, a sweet hippy who seems to be the only one with her life on track, even if it is a minimalist natural vegan type track. Also visiting for the holidays are the other members of the band, Annie’s ex and the children’s father, Paul, and his boyfriend, Brian.

I loved all the characters, flaws and all. I thought this showed quite a lot of skill on Dettmann’s part as there are also many parts where I want to slap the characters silly. We get a lot from Annie and Molly’s point of view in particular, and they didn’t always come across as ‘good’ people but, in the end, I especially warmed to Molly.

My favourite thing about Dettmann’s debut was the humour. It was absolutely hilarious. I admit I didn’t find this book as funny (although it does have its moments) and instead, I found it mostly quite sad. It isn’t really a fluffy chicklit book at all. There’s only hints of romance. The book is about family, a typically dysfunctional and crazy and, ultimately, loving family.

There’s a strong feminist tone throughout the book. The expectation that it’s the women of the world who will sacrifice everything for their children. Dettmann addresses women giving up their careers but also giving up their artistic passions for their family. I dabble in writing myself and rarely, if ever, get a chance by the time I run around doing this or that. I too keep saying that I’ll get back into it when everyone has left the nest. Of course, as Dettmann’s story and characters point out in various ways, you never stop having the responsibility of being a mother, no matter what you choose to do or how old your children become.

One thing I really loved about the book was the Australian setting. There is a lot of fun poked at summer Christmas and our lack of traditions, all while showing that we do have some traditions which we don’t always acknowledge (Boxing Day cricket and playing under the sprinkler, for starters).

I really enjoyed the book overall. There’s a lot of poignant scenes as well as many quotable lines which made me tear up and reflect on life and I highly recommend This Has Been Absolutely Lovely. 5 out of 5
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This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story about family, particularly parenting. As a mother of two, it resonated with me that your life is completely changed when you become a parent, especially a mother. But you remain you, human, a person with needs and desires.  This book is pleasantly written, at times funny, and reasonably heart warming by the end. It did take me a while to get in to but I’m glad I persevered. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for my honest review.
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I freaking LOVED this book!!!!

The characters, the storyline, the themes... it is just wonderful. A complete family drama that begins during the funeral of the Father/Grandfather. It reminded me a little bit of All Adults Here, except set in Australia and more of an honest exploration on motherhood in all it’s glory, and horror. 

I don’t think I’ve read a better book in regards to motherhood. The parts regarding the “mental load” of mothers, the guilt throughout different stages of our children’s lives, the fear a newborn can bring - even the description of breastfeeding - it was all just spot on and so real. 

So many different mini dramas occurring, with complexities for every character, but instead of being confusing and too much, it all just falls together so well. 

Absolutely adored it! I thoroughly recommend!!!
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Family is complicated and that is definitely evident in This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann. 

A death in the family sparks a chain of events that threatens to tear the family apart. 

Annie decides now will be her time to return to her career as a pop singer after being forced to stop to have her kids. 

Molly, however is counting on her mum to help look after her grandchild, not leaving room for a singing career. 

From hidden siblings to gambling debts, to sibling rivalry to post natal depression, this book has it all. I found the book refreshing and really relatable which is why it was so interesting to read. 

Will this family get their priorities in order? Definitely read to find out!
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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.
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Since her debut novel “How To Be Second Best” I have been keen to read more from Jessica Dettman and I can definitely say that Her new novel didn’t disappoint I couldn’t put it down just wanting to devour it from the moment I picked it up.
This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story about growing up and giving in, of parents and children, of hope and failure, of bravery and defied expectation, and whether it is ever too late to try again.
I found this book to be a very relatable take on modern Families, motherhood, being a new mum, and sibling relationships.
The story centres around Annie, her children and their families, and her ex-husband and his partner. They all come together over the Christmas period and I found the author nailed the dynamic perfectly, from the emotions which are generally heighten during that particular time of the year to the irritating little nuances of domesticity.
We are only in the first week of 2021 but this book has totally made my year! It’s out today and I highly recommend grabbing a copy!

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia for this gifted copy.
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Christmas is always a stressful time and in This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Australian author Jessica Dettman we are thrust right into the middle of Annie Jones/Thorne’s family. This happens just a short time after the death of her father who she had been looking after for five years and now being free of the caring roles, is contemplating revisiting a future in music. 

Joining her for Christmas are:
 *her youngest daughter, a millennial home organiser about to have her first baby, moving in 	with her husband Jack because their inner city flat has concrete cancer; 
*her eldest son Simon, over from Germany with his wife Diana and son Felix, carrying his 		own tensions and secrets; 
*her eldest ‘hippy’ daughter Naomi, a single mum and her daughter Sunny;
 *her ex-husband and long-ago fellow band members of Love Triangle, Paul and his partner 	Brian visiting from London - 
all staying together in the family home.
Add to this the tensions with Ray next door whose son Patrick and long-time-no see wife Heather turn up.
This all leads to a lot of dramas.

This story explores the complexities of families, the ramifications of secrets, the demands of motherhood, the expectations of children on their parents, the role of grand parents and of relationships and who people really are. 

That being said it was easy to read and enjoyable to watch the unraveling of the the storyline.

This quote about the title adds another dimension to the story.

“‘Are you “This has been absolutely lovely” -ing us?’ Molly said indignantly.
‘What is “This has been absolutely lovely” -ing? asked Diana.
‘It’s something our grandma used to do, said Naomi. ‘When guest had outstayed their welcome she used to get up and say, “This has been absolutely lovely,” and then stand there until they got the hint.’”

A highly recommended read.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for a copy to read and review.
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What’s a normal family? Really loved this book, the characters slide under your skin without you noticing, so your ever so gently cheering each of their eccentric characters along. 
But what it really made me think about is that everyone has hopes and dreams and sometimes we have to have the courage to go forward.
A beautiful read that had me feeling lots of things. Thank goodness for a lazy Christmas afternoon, that allowed me to be transported within this book.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to read
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🎶 This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann 🎶
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.6/5 - I know, I know, it’s probably too early to call it, but I’m going to do it anyway: I think I’ve found my favourite book of 2021. This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is jam-packed full of all the ingredients that make me fall in love a book: it oozes wit, hilarity and is exquisitely written. The characters are incredibly fun and each have such a unique tone of voice. I absolutely adored everything about this book, and I’m going to be recommending it to everybody. 

What’s this book about? 
This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story about family. It’s a story of how families are what you make them, of how families don’t always want the same things as one another, and of how familial love is the deepest and most enduring form of love. It’s a tale of discovering what you want from life, and letting go of the things that no longer serve you. 

Best bits: 
🌻 There is so much to love about this book. The story felt eternal, as though anybody who reads it could relate to some element or character within it. At the same time, it was an incredibly refreshing read unlike anything else I’ve read recently. 
🌻The Australianisms! I’m a sucker for a niche Aussie reference, and Dettmann delivered. References like spraying the weeds between the Besser bricks, Cottee’s cordial and backyard treehouses were scattered throughout, and each one had me smiling. Every page of this book read the way stepping onto a Qantas flight after a long time away feels: like coming home. 
🌻The writing of this book was just beautiful. It was sharp, witty and hilarious, while still tackling the topics of grief and mental illness in such a sensitive way. I felt both joy and heartbreak while reading this book - the mark of an excellent novel! 

Final thoughts: 
🌻This Has Been Absolutely Lovely will make a great summer read - it’s light enough to be a “beach read”, while still scratching beneath the surface of each character and presenting an insightful and nuanced view into family life. This will be my go-to summer book recommendation this season! 

Read if you liked:
🌻Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
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This is fantastic novel.

After reading the authors previous book,  I had high hopes for this one. I'm happy to say it did not disappoint!

It's hilarious, heartfelt and emotional. It's also extremely relatable. The characters all seemed so realistic, I felt that I fit straight into the loving but dysfunctional family. 

This is a unique contemporary story that I definitely recommend.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this E-book to review via Netgalley.
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I adored Jessica's other novel, How To Be Second Best, and it is one I recommend often, so I was keen to read her newest novel, This Has Been Absolutely Lovely.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped. I found it a little slow going, and the story didn't have enough to keep me very interested. 
The characters weren't very likeable and more than one annoyed me with their self-centered natures.
Annie is one of the main characters and was once a talented musician. She now feels that after 35 years, it is time to do something for herself and reengage into the music scene.
But with 3 adult children including pregnant Molly, Annie's taste of freedom seems close yet so far. 
As the family come together one summer period, a lot of drama ensues.
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I have been waiting for another novel from Jessica Dettman to follow the wonderful How To Be Second Best. This Has Been Absolutely Lovely certainly did not disappoint.  It was a pleasure from beginning to end.  The novel follows Annie and her large seemingly dysfunctional family. It is about following your dreams and how putting yourself first. The characters are wonderfully drawn, especially the characters of Annie and her daughter Molly. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend. 
 Thank you to Harper Collins Australia and Netgalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for a review.
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