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Lola Bensky – Lily Brett

Lola Bensky

Lola Bensky – Lily Brett

This was recommended by several people, but I did have a couple of false starts. It took me a while to appreciate Ms Brett’s writing style – not a criticism just a personal preference – in the end I enjoyed the novel.

Here’s the blurb …

Lola Bensky is a nineteen-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she’s not sure how she got the job – but she’s been sent by her Australian newspaper right to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967.

Lola spends her days planning diets and interviewing rock stars. In London, Mick Jagger makes her a cup of tea, Jimi Hendrix (possibly) propositions her and Cher borrows her false eyelashes. At the Monterey International Pop Festival, Lola props up Brian Jones and talks to Janis Joplin about sex. In Los Angeles, she discusses being overweight with Mama Cass and tries to pluck up the courage to ask Cher to return those false eyelashes.

Lola has an irrepressible curiosity, but she begins to wonder whether the questions she asks these extraordinary young musicians are really a substitute for questions about her parents’ calamitous past that can’t be asked or answered. As Lola moves on through marriage, motherhood, psychoanalysis and a close relationship with an unexpected pair of detectives, she discovers the question of what it means to be human is the hardest one for anyone – including herself – to answer.

Drawing on her own experiences as a young journalist, the bestselling author of Too Many Men has created an unforgettable character in the unconventional and courageous Lola. Genuinely funny and deeply moving, Lola Bensky shows why Lily Brett is one of our most distinctive and internationally acclaimed authors.

This novel had a bit of the Forrest Gump’s about it – being in the right place at the right time or maybe Lola is just very modest and worked very hard to be at the right place. There are some laugh out loud moments during the interviews with the rock stars, but there is a sadness to Lola as well. Her parents are holocaust survivors and struggle as parents. The usual vicissitudes of childhood must seem quite petty when you’ve survived Auschwitz. Renia, Lola’s mother, is obsessed by Lola’s weight – she is too fat. In fact Lola’s weight is almost another character in this novel – Lola is constantly thinking about diets and her weight.

The story is told from Lola’s perspective and she lives through interesting times and in interesting places. Knowing what happens to some of the people – Janis Joplin, Mama Cass is poignant and adds an extra element to the novel.

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