STARRED REVIEW
March 2021

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake

By Claire Christian

Noni Blake is in a rut. Her teaching job doesn’t fulfill her. A nine-year relationship has come to its sad but inevitable end. She hates her hair and probably drinks too much. Noni decides what she needs is to shake things up.

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Noni Blake is in a rut. Her teaching job doesn’t fulfill her. A nine-year relationship has come to its sad but inevitable end. She hates her hair and probably drinks too much. Noni decides what she needs is to shake things up.

Her first instinct is to revisit old flames, the ones who got away. But hooking up with the men and women from her past doesn’t give her what she’s seeking, and Noni realizes she needs something else. She needs a pleasure quest.

“I would never tolerate the things I say to myself if someone else was saying them,” Noni realizes. “I disregard my feelings. I don’t value my desires. I don’t nurture myself. I’m mean. Holy shit. Pleasure isn’t a person. It’s personal. And I need to work out what it looks like to me.”

With an unexpected windfall from the sale of her house, Noni embarks on a six-month sabbatical in Europe. She frequents London pubs with old friends. She buys lingerie in Amsterdam. She visits a retreat center nestled in the Scottish mountains. She reads and walks and thinks. And in Edinburgh, she decides to get a tattoo. The tattooist’s name is Beau, but Noni calls him “the Viking” for his gorgeous face and solid frame. (Picture Jason Momoa; I know I did.) Noni’s pleasure quest did not include plans to meet a beautiful Scottish man, but she finds herself drawn to the Viking. As she gets to know him better, Noni realizes the plans she has made for her life may be at odds with her heart.

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake is, well, pure pleasure. An Australian playwright and novelist who previously published a young adult novel titled Beautiful Mess, Claire Christian is a deliciously fun writer, letting us peek into Noni’s mind as she learns to listen to her own voice. Amid gorgeous European landscapes, Noni and the people she encounters are wholly likable, even when making questionable decisions.

Sexy and joyful, this is the story of a woman grappling with the idea that it’s OK to seek—even prioritize—pleasure.

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It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake

By Claire Christian
MIRA
ISBN 9780778331568

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