Title: So Lucky
Author: Dawn O’Porter
Published: October 21st 2019
Publisher: Harper Collins – GB
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Fearless, frank and for anyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.
IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .
Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.
AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?
Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.
And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…
The bold and brilliant new novel from Dawn O’Porter, the bestselling author of The Cows.
I haven’t read British author Dawn O’Porter’s previous novel, The Cows, so I came in very green to this author’s writing style, which is quite brash but also very perceptive. The sweet looking cover with a pink donut (my favourite kind) on the front is not an indication of what the reader will find once they let this book into their life. Instead, So Lucky delves headfirst into a minefield of issues, with specific focus on what it means to be or feel ‘lucky’. Can we truly ever attain this feeling?
So Lucky looks at life itself, with a penetrating and reproachful gaze. Using three women to negotiate the maze of physical appearances, Dawn O’Porter breaks down the lives of her central protagonists. For Beth, it looks like she has achieved the ultimate balance between motherhood, employment and marriage. While Ruby is a woman that strategically plans every aspect of her carefully ordered life patterns. Meanwhile, Lauren has a life anyone would envy, but it is just a false veneer? On closer inspection, Dawn O’Porter tears down these character constructions. Beth is struggling with the lack of intimacy in her relationship, while Ruby cannot shake her constant feelings of defeat. Meanwhile, instant celebrity Lauren knows that the life she projects on her social media pages is not all hearts and flowers. As these strangers continue to overcome the daily hurdles they face in their loves, a terrible scandal is brewing and when it boils over, the results will be astounding!
I think I have mentioned in a recent review how I have struggled to remain focused on the books I am reading at present. I used to have only one book on the go and I would diligently finish it before selecting another. Lately, I have picking up and putting down quite a lot of books. My mind tends to wander off and before I know it, I have no idea what I have been reading! So Lucky was a book that successfully managed to gain my full and undivided attention for the entire length of this novel. I was surprised as I actually thought based on the cover image that I was going to be reading a nice and fluffy chic lit title. However, this was far from the case. So Lucky is a fabulous novel that tackles something very important, our inner critic. I loved it!
O’Porter tackles an interesting angle with her latest novel. She presents three different character explorations, but the narration is mostly shared between Beth and Ruby, with excerpts from another character Lauren’s Instagram posts. Generally, I dislike the use of Instagram and social media feeds within narratives, I don’t like how it detracts from the narrative at hand. However, I make the exception for this one, Lauren’s posts were perfectly composed and well placed within the unfolding storyline. In Beth, who shares the same amount of narration as the other lead protagonist Ruby, we see a new mother tackling a high pressured job with a four month old. Beth has been feeling unsatisfied and unloved by her husband when we meet her. I was able to connect with this storyline as a mother. I think Beth’s story was presented in a realistic and unflinching manner. I do need to mention that at first I struggled with aspects of Beth’s story and I almost turned away from the book. There are some strong sexual scenes and references to explicit acts that may not be to the taste of some readers. I can be quite a prude, but I managed to get though them and see that it was in keeping with the overall direction of the novel, rather than being presented for sheer shock value.
Onto Ruby. My heart went out to Ruby in bucket loads. When you discover the truth behind Ruby’s strictly ordered world it will make you appreciative of your own life. I’m not going to go into this as I feel it would spoil the story. I actually felt ‘so lucky’ , which is a nice nod to the title after I experienced all Ruby had in her difficult life. I almost wanted to give Ruby a virtual high five when she was able to stand up for herself. However, Ruby is also flawed and judgmental, which makes us see that she is simply human. That is the beauty of this book, it is so down to earth and it presents issues at a grass roots level that all readers can directly sympathise with.
O’Porter presents us with a full set of themes in So Lucky. These include marriage, relationships, parenting, child care, motherhood, family estrangement, friendship, infidelity, sexuality, women’s health, body image, and mental health. Each issue is presented within a frame of insight and sensitivity, while also allowing the reader to play an active role in considering their moral compass on these important areas of everyday life.
So Lucky is cleverly structured and I wasn’t sure for much of this novel how the dangling threads of each different character journey would eventually click together. Some gentle clues were thrown in, but the big event that occurs towards the latter stages of the book finally allows the connections that have been carefully crafted to be unveiled. I really enjoyed how it all played out. I also liked how friendship became the overriding product of all the angst these women had been through. I loved the creative touch at the end, complete with inserted lines to encourage a response to the question, Who are you?
So Lucky is a wry, forthright and essential read. Dawn O’Porter has definitely crafted a truly excellent and reflective book for our times.
‘I watch her from the door. Maybe the trick to parenting isn’t trying to manage her reactions, but rather, it’s trying to manage my own. And above all else, at least my daughter is alive. Maybe I am lucky after all.’
So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter was published on 21st October 2019 by Harper Collins – GB. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of So Lucky, Dawn O’Porter, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.