Review: The Modern by Anna Kate Blair

Everything is working out for Sophia, an Australian living in New York. Or is it? Sure, she has left the small town where she grew up well and truly behind and she has a coveted job in the most exciting and glamorous of places--The Museum of Modern Art. She and her boyfriend Robert have suddenly and unexpectedly become engaged. So why isn't she happy? When Sophia meets Cara, she finds suddenly finds herself questioning everything about her relationships and her career. But what are the consequences of not following a traditional path, the one that she will have if she stays with Robert and his respectable family? And what are the consequences if she throws convention to the wind and chooses something else? What does it mean to be modern in twenty-first century New York?

In many ways this was an interesting read about a young woman, and the huge gap between how she appears on the surface and how she feels underneath. The narrative, filled with Sophia's many thoughts about her life, show that her job might seem glamorous, but underneath it is dull, poorly paid and offers very little in the way of job security. And then there are her relationships. Sophia is almost completely passive in her relationship with Robert, so much so that the outcome was no surprise to me whatsoever. As was the outcome of things between her and Cara. In many ways, the sheer passivity of the character annoyed me and she could become quite tiresome to read about. Then again, she also had a lot on her plate in terms of being true to herself and doing what was expected of her.

Overall, this offers some interesting insights into what life is for women in their late twenties--the trappings of a high level of education not leading to a highly paid job, and the question of personal relationships, whether it is better to look for security and acceptance or to follow ones heart. Although it may not have ticked all of the right boxes for me, I suspect it is one that will linger in my mind for a while after I've read it and that I may find myself reaching for again at some point.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of The Modern.


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