Title: Better Luck Next Time
Author: Kate Hilton
Published: June 16th 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
A brilliant generational family comedy for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Nora Ephron, and television’s This Is Us, Offspring and Parenthood.
It isn’t easy being related to a feminist icon, especially when she’s celebrating the greatest moment of her storied career.
Just ask the daughters of Lydia Hennessey, who could have it all if only they’d stop self-destructing. Mariana, the eldest, is on the verge of throwing away a distinguished reputation in journalism, along with her marriage. Nina, the middle daughter, has returned from a medical mission overseas as a changed woman but won’t discuss it with anyone. And Beata, the youngest, has a hostile teenaged son who just discovered the existence of a father who didn’t know about him either. Meanwhile, their cousin Zoe is making divorce look like a death-match while her brother, Zack, is grappling with the fallout from his popular television dramedy, which is based far too closely on Lydia herself.
Over the course of an eventful year, the Hennessey children contend with the big struggles of midlife: ageing parents, raging teens, crumbling marriages and bodies, new loves and the choice between playing it safe or taking life-altering risks. And as they inch toward a new definition of happiness they might even persuade their parents-and themselves-that they’re all grown up.
Family is the word in Kate Hilton’s latest novel, Better Luck Next Time. Drama, relationships, careers, parenting, divorce and family politics rule this new release from Canadian based author Kate Hilton. Better Luck Next Time is an entertaining, light touch novel that is quick witted from start to finish.
Better Luck Next Time is an all-encompassing family drama. It revolves around the daughters and wider family circle of feminist icon Lydia Hennessey. Lydia’s offspring are plagued by a series of woes and setbacks throughout this book’s journey. For eldest child Mariana, both her career and marriage is in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Lydia’s middle child Nina holds a secret close to her chest after returning from an overseas mission. For the youngest member of Lydia’s brood, Beata is struggling to deal with her teenage son and the questions he has over his parentage. Lydia’s extended family are also grappling with a bevy of life issues. Cousins Zoe and Zack are contending with career and divorce problems. Lydia doesn’t know who to help in their time of need, there are just too many issues at hand! Following a period of a year, Better Luck Next Time charts the everyday struggles of the Hennessey clan, as they negotiate a litany of obstacles to attain a greater sense of self, as well as happiness.
Better Luck Next Time is an open, observant and sharp read from an author I have not encountered before. Kate Hilton is now onto her third release, but this is my first taste of her work. Better Luck Next Time was a super fast read for me, I knocked it off in just an afternoon. It is easy to fall into the step of this novel, due to the accessible and airy tone of the book. This novel has the ability to click with all readers, especially contemporary fiction fans.
This family comedy has been likened to television sitcoms Parenthood, Offspring and This Is Us. I’m not a fan of these television shows, but I could see the comparisons between Better Luck Next Time and these productions. There is a strong screen quality to Better Luck Next Time. I could easily see Kate Hilton’s new novel on the big screen, billed a family comedy. There is definitely a fun and lighthearted tone to this book. The snappy accompanying dialogue exchanged between the characters ensures that this novel delivers plenty of well timed laughs.
I liked the format of Better Luck Next Time, which stretches over the course of a year. The book opens at Christmas and closes a year later. The chapters alternate between the different points of view of the various Hennessey children and relatives through the months of the year, which are clearly marked out. This kept me interested, engaged and on my toes. I wasn’t quite sure who I would encounter next via each narration interchange. Life is definitely not boring for the Hennessey clan! With plenty of curveballs, setbacks, choices and changes to embrace, it was a full journey.
Hilton pits her protagonists against a range of life issues and struggles. From second chance love, relationship breakdown, divorce, dating, career crisis, parenting problems, teenage angst, political activism and more, Better Luck Next Time is an involving novel. I appreciated the exploration and sheer volume of themes raised by the author, but often these episodes were a little far-fetched and not quite as a funny as I would have liked, or expected. Nevertheless, Better Luck Next Time was an undemanding read, which was exactly what I wanted after a heavy week.
Better Luck Next Time is a well-timed, pointed and vibrant novel that paints a picture of a family and its extended fold coping with a host of common life problems. Kate Hilton has penned a contemporary tale that will be sure to sit well with all fiction fans.
Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton was published on 16th June 2020 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Better Luck Next Time, Kate Hilton visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
I am offering 3 lucky readers an opportunity to win a copy of Better Luck Next Time. Simply leave a comment below on why you would like to win a copy of this book to be entered into this competition! Good luck!
*Competition open to Australian postal addresses only. Winners selected at random. Closes Monday 29th June 2020, 11pm (WST).