The Competition by Katherine Collette, Review: Authentic

The Competition by Katherine Collette is an eclectic redemption narrative exuding understated charm, humour and an authentic feel-good vibe. Read my review.

The Competition Book Synopsis

The Competition - Katherine Collette - Book Review

Frances quite honestly isn’t that excited about the SpeechMakers annual national conference and public-speaking competition. What she’s excited about (relatively speaking) is that this year there’s a major prize. Frances has a few small problems and forty thousand dollars would go a long way to sorting them out.

Keith is Frances’s probably-ex-mentor, it’s hard to tell since she’s not talking to him, and he disapproves of the prize money. He thinks SpeechMakers should be about self-improvement, not self-enrichment. He wants to win the competition, though. He thinks it might help the situation with his wife Linda.

Neil doesn’t care about the competition at all but Judy, his mother and coach, does, so. 

And Rebecca…

Actually, what the hell is Rebecca doing here? Rebecca belongs to Frances’s past, not her present. And certainly not her (hopefully) less-disastrous future.

Katherine Collette, author of the hilarious The Helpline, returns with another sharply observed comedy of manners and a cast of loveable underachievers, headed for self-improvement despite themselves.

‘A book centred around a collection of endearing but socially challenged misfits who need to let go of their less-than-perfect pasts in order to take control of their lives. Inspired by the author’s real-life experiences in Toastmasters, The Competition tells an amusing tale of ambition, friendship and redemption, with just a touch of romance. It will appeal to fans of heartfelt easy-reading books with quirky characters such as those by Graeme Simsion and Toni Jordan.’ – Books+Publishing

(Text Publishing, February 2022)

Genre: Drama, Literature, Humour

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Book Review

The Competition is a gentle story about big emotions. It is full of life lessons, but readers never feel schooled; just their hearts and minds broadened.

Reviewers of novels with strong leads of ten also praise complementary ensemble casts. But it is truly the ensemble that takes lead-billing in Katherine Collette’s fiction. While the characters in her laugh-out-loud debut The Helpline were sharply defined, in this second standalone novel she has taken a more subtle and nuanced approach with her character development arcs.

In The Competition, Frances, Keith, Neil and Judy each carry a burden of judgement; that of family, friends, colleagues and likely even the reading audience, initially. But Collette takes both audience and her eclectic bunch of characters on a path of self-acknowledgement that we all judge people, superficially and often unfairly. And, we bear witness to each of the characters’ awkward interactions, justifications, reflections, and ultimately their redemptive journeys.

A large part of this novel’s charm is its peppering of ‘dry and wry-smile’ humour and its understated ‘sunshine-through-the-clouds’ moments when characters realise:

(1) the most weighty and anchoring judgements they carry are their own, and

(2) there is much more to life than winning.

This is not an escapist sugar hit. Katherine Collette’s The Competition offers readers an everyday authentic feel-good vibe.… A novel best suited for those quieter, contemplative reading moods.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5 – Overall 3.75

Get your copy of The Competition from:

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About the Author, Katherine Collette

Katherine Collette is a novelist, podcaster and engineer living in Melbourne with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, The Helpline, was published in the US, UK, Germany and Italy. She also co-host books podcast The First Time. Check out her website and connect with her on Twitter.

This review counts toward my participation in the 2022 Aussie Author Challenge.

* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.