Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 30, 2016

Our Tiny Useless Hearts, by Toni Jordan #BookReview

Our Tiny Useless Hearts You have to be in the mood for a farce, and with my domestic life being just a tad hectic at the moment, I was definitely in the mood for some frivolity.  I romped through Our Tiny Useless Hearts in no time, and enjoyed it for what it is, a lively romcom full of witty humour and daft characters.  It made a pleasing counterpoint to my reading of the rather grim Secondhand Time by Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich…

Toni Jordan is an astute observer of the absurdity of 21st century life, conjuring a fantastic cast making entrances and exits through an outer suburban farmlet.  Almost the only characters not sleeping with someone else’s spouse are the two small children Mercedes and Paris – and the names of those two alone give you a glimpse into the way Jordan skewers the aspirational airheads who named them.  (I say ‘almost’ because I’m not giving anything away!)

Fortunately for the children, their Aunty Janice is the hero of the story, and even though she is a bit screwed up too because she has a divorced a man she’s still in love with, it is she who provides a circuit-breaker when the maelstrom finally erupts.   The novel is too witty to be didactic, but Jordan has some serious points to make about making relationships work and about children as hapless victims of parental self-absorption.  Mercedes and Paris are more observant and canny than the adults think, but they are still vulnerable little creatures who want to have both their parents together.

What’s consistent in Jordan’s romcoms is plotting to find a satisfying ending for characters who don’t fit the mould.  In Addition it was a character with OCD; in Fall Girl it was a professional con-artist; In Our Tiny Useless Hearts Janice is infertile.  In amongst the mayhem of the adulterous adults there are sobering glimpses of Caroline’s grief and her regret about the choices she has made, but it’s skilfully handled so that the comedy doesn’t falter.

It would probably make an entertaining film!

Author: Toni Jordan
Title: Our Tiny Useless Hearts
Publisher: Text Publishing, 2016
ISBN: 9781925355451
Review copy courtesy of Text.

Available from Fishpond:Our Tiny, Useless Hearts


  1. Sorry. I can’t find the place to add one more indigenous writer’s book that I just reviewed; Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie. Native American.

    • Hi Marilyn, thanks for this, it sounds like a very powerful read, and I’ll list it now. (You can add titles any time through comments on the ANZLL Indigenous Reading List page in the top menu, but *smile* it doesn’t really matter where it is).

  2. I love Toni Jordan’s work and have read all she has written to date. I must get my mitts on this one.

    • I bet the reserve list at the library is long…

  3. Sounds delightful Lisa – it’s nice to have something entertaining and escapist to read yet is not absurd. Hope your life stops being hectic soon:)

    • Thanks, Mairi. It’s hectic in a good way: now my father is in aged care here in Melbourne, I’m visiting him a lot while he settles in.

  4. I was thinking about ‘farce’ as a description for a book I was reading – probably farce and despair are the only ways to deal with the 21st century. Glad to hear your dod (dear old dad) is down in Melbourne now, though speaking as a dod myself he’s probably hoping visits continue beyond the settling in period. My dom, with sons all round the country, certainly does.

    • Yes, I think you are right, on both counts.
      Who was it who said that if you don’t laugh, you cry?

      Visits will certainly continue, just not twice a day…

  5. Loved this book, glad you did too. I read somewhere that Jordan wrote it in the spirit of the old screwball comedy movies – the ones from Cary Grant’s era.

    • I love those old movies…. I watched heaps of them in the 1970s, though mainly musical comedies because I loved the music.

  6. I can’t wait to read this one. I only read Jordan for the first time a month ago (Addition) and loved it – fun but well-written; light but not silly; and, as you mentioned a satisfying but not predictable ending.

    Since reading Addition, Jordan has been popping up on my radar constantly – in the Dear Reader podcast, on the radio and last week, she was on the panel of ABC Book Club that I was in the audience for – not only a talented writer but she seems good fun.

  7. She is, she is lovely. She was one of my panel guests in my first ever gig as a literary festival chair. I was very nervous and she put me at my ease straight away:)

  8. I’ve read all her previous books too and enjoyed them. She has a special talent for mixing humour with something a little more intriguing and serious. It’s not easy to do.

    • Indeed yes. Funny, I have approached each one thinking that I might not enjoy it because I tend not to like comic novels, and each time I’ve been delighted to be wrong.

      • haha, Lisa, I’m always a bit nervous about comedy in novels and films, and yet I love a good laugh. Why is this? I think it’s because comedy is so hard to get right? Easy to make people cry but it’s a fine line between cringing and laughing?

        • I think that comedy is also culturally specific. I’ve never found American humour funny, I like the subtlety of British irony. Australian humour lies somewhere between the two, so sometimes I like it and sometimes not…

          • Oh yes it is … I prefer English and Australian, overall, but there’s good American too. Did you ever listen to/watch Jon Stewart’s political commentary, for example?

            • No… I hadn’t heard of that one…

  9. I just finished this book last night with a good laugh. It was a good fun read. I do like Toni Jordan and her writing. As you say she has good obserbvations skills. I thought it make a great play. Practically all set in one location.

    • Yes, I’d go and watch it as a play:)

  10. I knew I had a good reason to keep this review in my mail box.
    I really liked the two Jordans I’ve read, so this one goes on the TBR.
    It’s good entertainment.

  11. […] Lisa’s review […]

  12. […] Our Tiny, Useless Hearts (Toni Jordan, Text) see my review […]

  13. […] Our Tiny, Useless Hearts, by Toni Jordan, see my review […]

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