Hi and welcome to blog tour number 2! I mentioned in my last post, that today I am taking part in 2 blog tours, which I am super excited about! It just means even more books for you to check out! You can read my other one here. I absolutely adore every one of my books. The dream would definitely be to have one day, a room full of bookcases and lots of books! Just so I can also have a Belle moment every time I walk into it! Books just make me so happy. One minute I can be walking along on Brighton beach, the next I’m in a completely different world and maybe on another planet and then another time I’m going on an adventure in Paris. When reading it’s like I’m taken straight into the book. I can picture all of the characters, what they doing, what they are wearing, and I’m following them on their journey through the pages. Books are such wonderful things, don’t you agree?!
I was very kindly sent a copy of The Optimist by Sophie Kipner to read and review. I am very honoured to be taking part in The Optimist blog tour. I’ve attached a copy of the blog tour banner at the bottom of this post, so you can check out all of the other blogger’s posts who are taking part too. 😀💕Sophie Kipner is a Visual artist and author and grew up in Topanga, CA. Sophie writes and illustrates her own stories, which have appeared in Kugelmass: A Journal of Literary Humor, Amy Ephron’s One for the Table, FORTH Magazine and The Big Jewel. The Optimist is her first novel. I also want to say a big thank you to Anne for arranging this blog tour and I am so happy that I can be part of it.
“Meet Tabitha Gray, a delusional girl from Topanga, California, who redefines what it means to be a truly hopeless romantic. Tabby suffers from an aggressive strain of cock-eyed optimism – no amount of failure, embarrassment or humiliation can dent her fierce belief that real, true, lasting love is just around the corner.
Where most people think, fantasize and dream, Tabby says, feels and does. Whether waiting in her lingerie for Harrison Ford to open the door of his hotel room; following Al Pacino around a Russian bathhouse; seeking passion with a blind man on the advice of a wise old woman with dementia; or sending intimate photos to a random sexter with an apparently charming dick, Tabby refuses to be crushed by her many misadventures.
In this warmly witty debut novel, Sophie Kipner takes a satirical look at the extremity of romantic desperation, and pays tribute to the deep human need to keep on heroically searching for love despite our many absurdities.”
This book is such an enjoyable and refreshing read. It has many cringing and laugh-out-loud moments. Tabitha does get herself into some rather embarrassing situations, which we actually find out from the very beginning. I just knew straight away when reading that this is a book I was going to love. Tabitha’s optimistic attitude may get her into those embarrassing moments, but I love her attitude and that she doesn’t care even if it was embarrassing! I really like Tabitha and she is a very likeable character.
Tabitha is determined to find real true love and to prove that it does exist. Tabitha especially wanted to prove this to her mum. Looking back at her childhood and memories, she knows it exists but her mum had just forgotten. She wanted to prove her mum wrong. Tabitha lives life to the full and literally does things without even taking a second thought about it. Each chapter has a little bit about finding that true she is proving exists.
This is definitely a book you will want to read. A perfect book to wind down with. I really love the fun, unique, personal touch of the sketches in this book that start off each chapter. It really makes the book stand out and gives it a fun and wonderful touch.
Below is a little bit from Sophie Kipner, about The Optimist.
“Writing What You Know”
“Panic sets in every time people ask me what my novel is about.
“It’s about a delusional girl trying to find love,” I tell them, beads of sweat beginning to form at my temples. I look at them, nervous, feeling guilty for a crime I didn’t commit. Then a smile – undoubtedly, expectantly almost – takes shape on their face. They assume, to my horror, that it must be autobiographical.
It’s a widely adopted theory that an author’s debut novel is almost always a thinly veiled autobiography; a memoir dressed as fiction. I understand this. Writers are encouraged to write what you know, at least in the beginning as you gain your sea legs. But what if your first novel is about a crazy person in her 30s trying desperately to find love? What if you attempt to explain, over and over again but to no avail, that it’s not you, yet the more you explain, the crazier, the more insane, you sound?
“I swear, it’s not me!” I plead, sometimes even before the question is even asked, because I know that it’s coming. It’s like telling someone a story about a ‘friend who’s having a problem’ when that person knows very well that the ‘friend’ is, well, you.
“And where are you from?” They often next ask.
“Where is the novel set?”
It works for the protagonist, I plea. It’s imperative for the story, I beg. Of course, no one believes me.
And then comes the line I dread most: “And let me guess, you’re single, too, right?”
The problem is that they are right: I am. It makes me laugh, and then I cry a little inside because it worries me that people can so easily imagine that this wildly insane protagonist, this hot mess at best, is me. Should I be insulted? Proud? I mean, I did imagine her. She is my paper baby. I take ownership because there is a sort of unconditional love a writer has with a character he or she creates, so in that way she is an extension of myself.
I write fiction because, at least with “The Optimist,” I wanted the chance to explore a world in which a character could behave in unconventional ways in order to look at the topic of love, and its maddening pursuit, from a different lens. How can we talk about love without it sounding cliched? I felt that only in being able to truly exaggerate a character’s behaviors and thoughts to the point of insanity and delusion, to the point of making the story farcical, could I deal with the topic of love and the extremities of romantic desperation in a way that felt at once absurd and distant but also relatable. I’ve never behaved as Tabitha, my protagonist, does, but I admire her unabashed persistence, her unapologetic love of herself and her ceaseless, unwavering optimism.
My brother tells me now to just admit it. To plead guilty instead of risking a life sentence because the more I contest it, the worse it sounds.
Writing a character free from the constraints of what is and isn’t socially acceptable gave me the breath as a writer to explore the topic of love in a new way. Satirizing a scenario gave me the freedom I needed to look at the bigger picture: is finding true, lasting love a delusional mission at its core? Is waiting for the one as insane as imagining you don’t need to settle?
I’ve heard that the best card to pick in a deck is the joker, the fool, because the fool is already free from judgment. Since people have already cast him aside as the idiot, he is free to be whomever he wants. Tabitha is, in this way, the fool, and I envy that freedom to say and do as she desires. Maybe she is my alter-ego. Maybe I am more like her than I’d ever like to admit. Sure, I never jumped on Al Pacino in a Russian bathhouse and broke his nose; I never tried to join the mile-high club with a stranger; and I surely have never tried to seduce blind people undercover as a volunteer at the Braille Institute because of the rumors they make better lovers; but I do know what it feels like to question my own sanity along the way to finding what many of us are blindly searching for. I know what it feels like to be in the dark, to question whether or not I have too high expectations or if I’m, in fact, settling.
I’ve had a year since the hardback of “The Optimist” was first published to get used to this question of if I am Tabitha, and I think I’m finally at a place where I can admit – albeit sometimes quietly – that it is indeed a fictionalized version of my own story. Tabitha’s confidence has been rubbing off on me. Now, though, in retrospect, I can see it’s less an autobiography than it is a rallying cry, a secret wish for myself; a tribute to the kind of woman I’d like to be more like (but just a little bit less insane, because otherwise I’d be writing this sadly from a jail cell). So maybe, just maybe, instead of my first novel being an obscured retelling of my past, it was a circuitous way of teaching myself a lesson and defining the kind of person I’d like to one day become.”