To the average outside observer, Olivia Law seems to have it all: handsome husband, gorgeous house, and a glamorous job as Australia’s most beloved TV newsreader. But behind closed doors Olivia’s marriage is crumbling, and when she arrives home one night she finds her husband has left, unannounced. After a few glasses of wine, Olivia decides to record and send an x-rated video imploring David to return.
The next morning Olivia arrives at work feeling slightly worse for wear, but it’s still a shock when she’s pulled off air and escorted upstairs for a meeting with the network’s head honchos. Was her hangover really that noticeable? But the meeting isn’t about her hangover. Olivia’s video has ended up on YouTube, and Olivia is being fired. Returning home in a daze, Olivia doesn’t think her day could get worse – and that’s when she finds out David has met someone else and left her for good.
With her life in tatters, Olivia retreats to the comfort of her best friend’s home in Byron Bay. Lying low, Olivia lets the ocean views and good vibes sooth her shattered soul…and then something unexpected happens. Olivia begins to receive email after email from women all around the world. Emboldened by her bare-it-all video, they’re writing to tell Olivia about their own bedroom fantasies, and the messages just keep coming.
Inspired in turn, Olivia starts a show on YouTube to share her fantasies and those of the countless women who have contacted her and as it gains traction, the show sparks nationwide chatter about sex, self-expression, and the role of the media in policing female sexuality. But can Olivia keep the momentum going? And while she’s at it, can she turn her own life around too?
With a host of charming and eccentric supporting characters standing alongside our courageous heroine Olivia, The Upside of Over is endlessly entertaining. It’s also a deeply relatable look at the way in which women are taught to feel ashamed of their desires and their sexuality, to remain silent and to accept less when they deserve more. In a world where women’s desire is still taboo, it’s refreshing and profoundly empowering the way The Upside of Over ushers the conversation right out into the open, placing women and their fantasies front and centre without apologies.
In celebrating the fantasies of middle-aged and older women – beginning with 45-year-old Olivia herself – The Upside of Over challenges the pervasive idea that older women are sexless, desire-less and even valueless. Women don’t lose their sexuality or their worth once they are over 40 and to read a book that acknowledges this and champions free and open sexual expression for all women regardless of age, is a powerful thing.
The Upside of Over offers a sharp and insightful look at the ugly realities of the television industry, a world only too familiar to the author, J.D. Barrett, who is an Australian television writer and script editor. In the first episode of her online show, Olivia takes the opportunity to detail her revenge fantasy for the sleazy network heads who groped her in former years and then dumped her so unceremoniously, and this prompts other women at the network to come forward with a host of allegations against these powerful men. In the age of #MeToo, it’s a timely reminder that it only takes one brave woman to open the floodgates and turn the tide against sexism and harassment, and that women, working together, are unstoppable.
The Upside of Over is a fabulous read.
About the author
J.D. Barrett is an Australian television writer and script editor. She has worked on the writing teams for Love My Way, East of Everything, Bed of Roses, Wonderland, Love Child and The Secret Daughter. The Secret Recipe for Second Chances was her bestselling debut novel. The Song of Us was her second book and The Upside of Over is her third work of fiction. J.D. lives between Sydney, Byron Bay and Los Angeles.