REVIEW: Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton

In brief: The adult daughters (and niece) of Lydia Hennessey, feminist icon, are making big changes in their lives that will rock the family.

The good: It’s funny and reads like your favourite TV show.

The not-so-good: Why isn’t this novel a TV show too?

Why I chose it: Sounded like fun. Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the copy.

Year: 2020

Pages: 355

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Setting: Major city

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Sometimes there are books that read just like a movie or great television show. You can see all the drama unfolding right in front of your eyes, picture the characters and feel at home in their surroundings. Better Luck Next Time is just like that. It’s an incredibly visual, witty novel that flows well through one of the trickiest subjects out there – the downfall of relationships.

The story is about four women, three sisters and their cousin. For the three sisters, the shadow of their mother Lydia (a renowned feminist) looms large. For Mariana, it was the determination to have a good job and a marriage much happier than her parents’. That didn’t happen, with the end of their relationship coming to an abrupt end at the family Christmas dinner. Cousin Zoe’s relationship had already ended before that fateful dinner and she’s ready to take her ex to the cleaners, even if she has to fight tooth and nail. Beata, the youngest sister and a single mother, finds her carefully structured world slipping away when her son discovers the identity of his father (and her lies). Middle sister Nina is an enigma in the family, having spent time working as a doctor in Syria and not willing to speak about her experience. As for Zoe’s brother Zack, he’s in trouble for creating a hit TV show which unflatteringly represents his family, living the Hollywood high life and then crashing into writer’s block and back into Zoe’s life. Add to that a wedding that isn’t wanted, a surprise family link with Zoe’s divorce lawyer, a riot and a venture into the world of wellness and the novel is stuffed full of drama (both good and bad).

Kate Hilton has a great flowing style of writing. Everything fitted in nicely together and was never forced. I never lost track of who was who (and there’s a lot of people in the Hennessey family). All kinds of drama are represented – the funny, the sad, the shocking and the happy moments. Better Luck Next Time takes divorce and the end of relationships, whether they be romantic or work related and makes them seem not so bad (as well as truly relatable). It’s also a book that celebrates family and how they can be irritating, but in the end, they have your back. I loved the combination of drama, annoyances (imagine having your brother decide to move in with you as an adult!) and ultimately that the characters found their way after a few false starts. It’s an easy, fun read perfect for a winter weekend.

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