The Reading

Fiction - Literary
273 Pages
Reviewed on 07/17/2022
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

In The Reading by Barbara Monier, we meet Esme, an established writer in her early sixties. Her lover Gino has asked her to live with him but she is reluctant to disrupt her carefully constructed cocoon. She subsequently suffers from writer’s block. As she performs a reading from her latest book, she’s approached by a stranger during the book signing. Tom Killarney is no stranger after all since they met years ago when they were freshmen at an Ivy League school she hated. This brings back memories of what Esme considers the worst year of her life. The visit further triggers detailed memories of her life including old grief, past loves, a psychic’s prophecy, and the tragedy of the Covid pandemic. Read on as Esme assembles the pieces of her life as she takes stock of the present.

Barbara Monier’s The Reading is a compelling novel about a woman who reclaims her courage to live life to the fullest. Beautifully written, the author is especially proficient in conveying the emotions of Esme, the main protagonist. At times poignant and at times amusing, the novel is written like a memoir. Esme is a very interesting and fully-developed character. One can see her evolution from an awkward adolescent to a wise and sympathetic adult. The setting alternates between the early 70s and the present time as she tries to decide about her future. Barbara Monier’s writing style is emotive and compelling. This book will encourage readers to examine their own values as the author superbly examines Esme’s past to allow her to understand the truth that explains her present. Highly recommended!

Kayleigh Perumal

Barbara Monier’s The Reading is a literary novel about an established writer named Esme. From the outset, you are immersed in Esme’s vivid world. Esme is critically aware of her feelings and those of the people surrounding her. This is partly because her father died when she was very young, and this trauma has left a lasting impression. When a friend from her worst days in college shows up forty-odd years later at one of her book readings, Esme is confronted with her troubled past and identity. On the same day, her long-term partner asks Esme to take the next step in their relationship. The timing of these two events leaves Esme bewildered, causing her to reflect on other factors that have shaped her into the person she is now.

Barbara Monier allows us to accompany Esme on her journey of self-discovery. The Reading deals with the human condition of loneliness, addresses the complexity of relationships (regardless of age), and illustrates the difficulty of understanding both youth and loss. I relished the descriptions of Esme’s physical surroundings because they were poignant and evocative. Monier also uses humor, and I found myself laughing out loud at some of Esme’s observations in her internal monologue. Besides her wit, Monier’s intertextuality and literary references are particularly apt and add context to Esme’s character. The novel also touches on the contemporary concerns of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Reading will appeal to anyone who appreciates self-reflective writing and a complex main character.