Book Review: Search History by Amy Taylor

About the Book:

Rebecca meets Fleabag in a sharp and funny debut novel about dating in the internet age.

After fleeing to Melbourne in the wake of a breakup, all Ana has to show for herself is an unfulfilling job at an overly enthusiastic tech start-up and one particularly questionable dating app experience. Then she meets Evan. Charming, kind and financially responsible, Evan is a complete aberration from her usual type, and Ana feels like she has finally awoken from a long dating nightmare.

As much as she tries to let their burgeoning relationship unfold IRL, Ana can’t resist the urge to find Evan online. When she discovers that his previous girlfriend, Emily, died unexpectedly in a hit-and-run less than a year ago, Ana begins to worry she’s living in the shadow of his lost love. Soon she’s obsessively comparing herself to Emily, trawling through her dormant social media accounts in the hope of understanding her better. Online, Evan and Emily’s life together looked perfect, but just how perfect was it? And why won’t he talk about it?

Search History is a sharply funny debut novel about identity, obsession and desire in the internet age from one of the most perceptive and original new voices in Australian fiction.

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released 2 May 2023

My Thoughts:

Billed as a blend of Fleabag with Rebecca, my expectation was quite high going into this debut. I can say with conviction that my expectations were well and truly met and even exceeded. I really enjoyed this novel, it was both funny and moving, relatable and absorbing – contemporary Australian fiction at its best.

After her long-term relationship ends, Ana moves across country to Melbourne from Perth, not only leaving behind old relationship baggage, but a network of friends and her mother. New town, new home, new job, new friends, new possibilities for new relationships – it’s all ahead for Ana. Except, as with real life, nothing is that rosy or easy. Ana’s mother stops talking to her, punishing her with silence for moving away and her father lives in Bali, content with a new partner and a bohemian existence, only dropping in occasionally via scratchy video calls with new age advice and recommendations about yoga. After a particularly frightening sexual encounter with a man from a dating app, Ana deletes her dating apps and resigns herself to loneliness. But then she meets Evan.

‘Silence is rejection in slow motion. It’s an injury sustained from a blow that was never dealt. There is, in theory, nothing to recover from. Silent treatment was not new to me, it was, after all my mother’s love language, but Evan wasn’t even the first or second man who had used this tactic on me.’

As is perfectly normal and expected in today’s day and age, Ana looks Evan up online and jumping from profile to profile, she swiftly discovers his long-term girlfriend died less than a year ago. Emily seems perfect, as dead people often do, immortalised by those who love them and forever remembered with nothing but fondness and longing. Except by Evan, who doesn’t mention her at all. As their relationship unfolds and becomes more serious, it does so without Evan acknowledging Emily’s death and Ana not acknowledging that she already knows about it because she’s burrowed down every rabbit hole on social media that contained even a mere whiff of Emily.

‘I was kidding myself to think I was well-adjusted enough to be able to deal with these circumstances. It was uncharacteristically optimistic to think I could cope without projecting an unfair need for constant reassurance from Evan. I wondered if I was truly the right person for this job, the job of being The One Who Came After, which required the responsibility of delicate handling and constant concealing. I stare at Emily’s face and she smiled back at me through the glass like she knew the answer.’

Search History is a polished debut, written with a perfect blend of comedy and tragedy, hitting all the notes with perfect pitch. What a fabulous writer Amy Taylor is. I enjoyed this novel immensely and look forward to seeing what she next has in store for us. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Search History by Amy Taylor

  1. Yessss! I’m so glad you loved this one too 😍 It really feels like something special, a novel that so perfectly captures relationships in the digital age, and a character that’s self-destructive but still endearing. And to think this is Taylor’s *debut* – I can’t wait to see where her career goes!

    Liked by 1 person

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