Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer – Book Review


Winner of the inaugural Mslexia Novella Award (2019). 

She used to be someone else, but now she’s arrived in Vegas, where she can start again. It won’t do to let the past leak in. It’s the Sixties now. She’s going to become … Joan. She makes a list: Buy a new dress (fitted, floral). Dye her hair (dark). Curl it. Buy red lipstick. Buy cigarettes and a lighter, too: Joan, she decides, is a smoker.

There’s no need to dwell on why she’s here, what went before. She is just moving forward, one foot in front of the other, becoming that new person. Joan. This city of flashing neon, casinos and shows is full of distractions. Finding a job will be quick and easy. Things to do. New people to meet. A clean sheet. She’s certainly not thinking about Jack, or … No. Not anymore. Her new life starts right here, right now



“How does the mind learn to let things go?”

Set in the 60’s, an unnamed woman has arrived in Vegas, she’s calling herself Joan …and Joan with her floral dresses and dark hair …smokes, it’s what a Joan would do!

She will not think about the past, just walk to the future, one small step at a time…

What is Joan running from? What is so terrible, she hasn’t even found the right words yet to write to her mother in Australia?

This is a tiny book, a 68 page novella, but don’t let that fool you …this is something special. The tale of a woman on the edge of a breakdown, who thinks if she changes herself she can forget….it never happened did it? That was someone else? 

Incredible, sophisticated and emotion packed literature.

Thank you to Ruth Killick Publicity for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

due for publication December 2019




Angela Meyer’s Joan Smokes won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition in 2019. Her short fiction has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a publisher for Echo Publishing, an Australian imprint of Bonnier Books UK, and in this role has discovered and developed a range of award-winning, globally published and bestselling talent, including global number one bestselling author Heather Morris. A Superior Spectre, Angela’s debut novel, is already shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.


Angela Meyer is @literaryminded on Twitter and Insta. @literarymindedblog on Facebook. You can find her online at where there are also some book club questions for A Superior Spectre.

Saraband is @SarabandBooks


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