'Turns out, I'm Fine' - Judith Lucy, Autobiographical non-fiction (2021).
Book: Turns out, I'm fine
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Turns out, I’m fine.
Sometimes you choose a book because of a cover, or an author, or on a whim. But here’s something a bit different for me, I choose my latest book based on a voice! In my commuting, I love a good audiobook – and usually I listen to fiction. But I just finished Judith Lucy’s, ‘Turns out I’m fine’.
To understand why I picked this book, you need to know who Judith Lucy is – she’s an Australian comedian, and she has the most drawling twang in her voice – and the way she intones her words is just so classically ‘Judith Lucy’. Her voice is incredibly unique, and the ‘bogan’ element to it is rather iconic. Honestly, you’d know her voice anywhere.
If I was honest, I enjoy her voice more than her comedy – but I thought to myself, her autobiography – Well why not? Especially since she was reading her own book. This added an incredible element into the mix, because the way she writes is conversational in nature – it was just like having a chat. Indeed, there was something familiar about it all – you see, I’ve seen enough of Judith Lucy on the tele over the years to know a bit of what she’s about. Her humour often draws on her personal life, particularly her relationships.
I wasn’t surprised then, when her autobiography was very much focused on the relationships in her life – but it actually started in an interesting place, growing up. I didn’t realise that 51-year-old Judith Lucy was adopted, and she speaks about the relationships she has with her birth mother, alongside the woman who she thought of as ‘mum’. In discussing her past, and how she found out she was adopted at 25, only when an angry family feud with a cousin led to the revelation – she actually focused in on her father. The book takes a strong feminist turn, and a retrospective Judith begins to understand how her experiences with men, and her experiences particularly with her father, had shaped her life. She seems to ground her understanding of the world in the need to find acceptance.
Through the re-telling of her life, she speaks about her relationships with men, and seems to keep coming back to the idea of not feeling like she was enough for them, and that they were only with her for her money. She offers that in each relationship she was often financially taken advantage of. This left her feeling in awe of her mother, who after her father’s dead, found herself able to explore her own womanhood and independence. Judith Lucy then seems to position herself to find this too.
Along the way, she recalls many significant moments in her existence.
- She leaves Perth and travels to find a new home in Melbourne.
- The death of her brother and coming to terms with mortality.
- Finding out she had 100s of 1000s of dollars stolen from her, from a lover who she met at a video shop.
- Swimming with whales in Western Australia
- Getting moulds made of her genitals.
- Joining gardening groups and making new friends.
- Finding out who her biological father was at 50 and getting to know knew half-siblings.
And these stories are all punctuated with her career, and her ambition to work hard and to make it in a male dominated industry. The book comes to its concluding thought, that in life, we always get to a point where the rug gets pulled out from beneath us. It seems to be the message that Judith Lucy leaves us with. Be prepared for what comes next.
For her what comes next, she comes to understand that she’s actually OK – and she has found that she is OK with being a single woman in her 50s, she has come to terms with her body and has found the importance of friendship. She is also starting to invest into environmental conservation and she feels hopeful for the future. She leaves us with a final wondering: When the world comes to an end, do we want to be at the party where we say, ‘At least we tried’, or the pessimists party, sitting around saying, ‘I told ya so’. She concludes that for her, the first party is where she wants to be.
It’s probably worth noting that Judith Lucy has a podcast, I’ve never listened to it, but I feel like this book was a series of podcasts on different parts of her life. In that way, it wasn’t really a book in the sense of what you’d expect, it nearly read like a series of informal memoirs perhaps. It’s not great literature, but it’s a great conversation (however 1 sided it might be). I’d give this one a solid 6/10 and I might even think about recommending it as a light option to a friend. I would caution the reader though, that I feel the success of this book is in audio version, I’m not sure without her voice speaking the words, whether the conversation would fall flat – as you might read her complaining a lot and assume this is a whine-fest.
It's a light read, and sometimes that's exactly what you might need!