Everything Is Fine | Gillian Harvey

Cover of Everything Is Fine, title in brush script with neat flourishes, young woman holding up phone to take a selfie


Keeping up appearances – it’s not a new obsession. But in the age of social media, product promotion and “influencers”, the pressures (and the audience) are magnified…

Jessica started out as a humble PR consultant. But since she hooked up with the delectably fit Dave and joined in his enthusiastic gym-going and clean eating, her social media followers have rocketed.

She’s made it! She’s successful, sought-after and the cash is rolling in – along with free products from companies eager for her endorsement.

Trainers and pyjama bottoms

But for Jessica, real life and her image have begun to part company. She tweets about her morning run with a photo of her trainer-clad feet, pyjama bottoms carefully cropped out. Dave, disappointed at her abandoning date crispbreads for her daughter’s cookies, walks out.

What now? The anniversary of their first date will be flagged up on her blog! She has to pretend that everything is fine.

Maybe the answer lies with her new client. Psychologist Dr Robert Haydn, disappointingly un-photogenic but somehow cute, chooses Jessica – as the top search result for “PR in St Albans” – to promote his new book.

Remembering Rainbows is all about reconnecting with your inner child – the joy, spontaneity and disregard for what others think.

A blizzard of comical embarrassments

Everything Is Fine could well be subtitled It Shouldn’t Happen To A PR. It pushes the idea that no publicity is bad publicity to its furthest limit – featuring nudity, misbehaving microphones and novelty incontinence products.

Jessica struggles on doggedly through a blizzard of comical embarrassments, both personal and caused by her clients. Until something has to give.

Actually, two things give. Her gym leggings, and her daughter’s mental health…

This is a fable of fakery, exposing modern values for the ridiculous constructs that they are. But there’s also an atmosphere of warm humanity, and some deftly sketched supporting characters such as the stiletto-clad, perma-tanned reality show star and the misfit artist with unfortunate obsessive tendencies.

The next hero and victim

I found myself cheering Jessica on in her little rebellions and her attempts to do the right thing. The comments on her carefully crafted social media posts are often hilarious, as are the hashtags that pepper the story – #lovemyjob, #soexcited, #ohshit (just in her head, that one).

And while modern public opinion expresses itself ever more savagely, at least it moves on to its “next hero and victim” with breathtaking speed. And Jessica finally allows her daughter on to WhatsApp – a happy ending, we hope!

Everything Is Fine by Gillian Harvey is published by Orion, £8.99 PB.

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Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!