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Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Review Rating: ♥♥.5
274 Pages | Published: January 5th 2021 by Custom House
Better Luck Next Time: Book Jacket Synopsis
The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.
It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.
Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.
A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.
Book Links: Amazon
- Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution? – Groucho Marx
- There’s nothing like working a divorce ranch to make a person question the likelihood of happily ever after.
- “I have stacks of novels I haven’t gotten to yet. It’s the best reason to go on living I can think of.”
- That’s the thing about advice, though, isn’t it? You only listen to what people tell you when they say the things you want to hear.
Review & Thoughts
Initial Thoughts: Historical fiction isn’t my forte but this was a book club pick and I’m determined to read all of the books we pick.
Themes, Elements & Review Notes: The format of this book is written back and forth from 1938 to 1988. The book is written in the format of an old man looking back on his life 50 years prior. Most of the story is told in such particular detail and other times he can’t recall certain details; it’s a little confusing and odd to read a story where certain details normally provided are lacking because of the format.
My opinion: I wanted to like this book but overall I found it a bit slow and dull, save for a few humorous moments. I would’ve appreciated more humor and substance to the story. The writing style wasn’t bad but the format was odd, with the way the story was being told 50 years later. I liked the unique premise of the book and I’d never heard of a dude ranch where a woman could go to get a divorce.
Fun fact: I liked the title of the book, named after what the Reno divorce lawyer would say once a divorce was processed; ‘better luck next time!’.
In a Nutshell: Not my favorite format or genre but it was good for a few laughs and had a handful of endearing characters. Most of my book club chose to DNF this but I stuck it through to the end, hoping it would get better. There was a bit of a surprise twist at the end but not worth the effort.
Book Format & Source: Format via source. I received a complimentary copy of this book from [publisher]. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Any ARC editing errors noticed are assumed corrected prior to the final published copy release.
About Julia Claiborne Johnson
Julia Claiborne Johnson is the author of the bestselling Be Frank with Me, a finalist for the American Bookseller’s Association Best Debut Novel Award. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee before moving to New York City, where she worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines. She now lives in Los Angeles with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.
Find out more on the author’s facebook page
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