This witty novel is, according to the author, Canadian Kate Hilton, a divorce comedy, if such a thing is possible. Certainly, the plot has among other things, two divorces as well as a divorce lawyer in the cast of characters, and it is very funny - I chuckled all the way through. Better Luck Next Time is the story of the Hennessey/Goldstein family and begins as so many family stories do, at Christmas.
Zoe doesn't want to tell her family she is getting a divorce. Her stay-at-home mother, Judy, puts on Christmas dinner every year, tears over the gravy and all. Mentioning the divorce would be just too much. Zoe's Aunt Lydia is a feminist icon, now in her seventies. Zoe's brother Zack made a name for himself for writing a TV comedy loosely based on Lydia and her daughters - something cousin Beata, mother of Oscar, has never forgiven him for. Beata gave birth to Oscar at twenty, telling her family the father was a donor at a sperm bank.
Into this setting, several secrets are revealed. That Oscar is the product of a one-night-stand at a party thrown by Zoe sixteen years before. When Oscar determines to find his father, he is furious at Beata for keeping his parentage a secret, and it doesn't take him long to find his dad who happens to be Will, an old university friend of Zoe's and partner at the law firm handling Zoe's divorce. Zoe's lawyer is Eloise, Beata's girlfriend - another secret kept from family. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
The story is told from alternating points of view, beginning with Zoe, switching to Beata, as well as Mariana, whose marriage to shiftless musician Devlin is also falling apart. Mariana is a highly principled journalist forced to write about pop culture and women's lifestyle themes to pay the mortgage and help raise her young daughters.
Through the year that follows, more secrets come out of the woodwork, people date, get married (there's a very funny scene at a bridal store and another at a women's rally with Lydia at the forefront. While these events keep the plot bubbling along, Beata, Mariana and Zoe and other characters do a lot of soul-searching and open their hearts. The book highlights with much humour the pressures women are faced with - family, love and career just for starters.
But it's in the little details where much of the humour lies. The disastrous forays into online dating made by Zoe and then Mariana. The money to be made from the wellness industry, exemplified by FairMarket Beauty's owner Harmony Delacroix who becomes Mariana's boss. The speech Mariana gives at Beata's wedding shower is hilarious and would put off anyone contemplating matrimony.
There is such a lot of fun in Better Luck Next Time, a comedy of manners for our time. I would love to see more books by this author - she's such a breath of fresh air. This novel is available in both print and ebook format from the library.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue link: Better Luck Next Time (print)
Catalogue link: Better Luck Next Time (ebook)