Author: Kate Hilton
Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin
This is the first of Kate Hilton’s works that I have read, but if it is indicative of her other books I will be looking to read them also. I thoroughly enjoyed Better Luck Next Time finding Hilton’s characters highly relatable and the tale itself both moving and funny.
I particularly liked the way Hilton set out the character’s family tree at the beginning of the tale, separated into the Hennessey branch and the Goldstein-Hennessey Branch with the addition of The Supporting Cast!
Lydia Hennessey is the matriarch of the Goldstein-Hennessey clan, now 70 she has spent her life dedicated to feminism and is regarded as a feminist icon. For her three children Mariana, Nina and Beata this meant spending their childhood being dragged from one feminist rally to another.
Larry Hennessey is Lydia’s older brother, married to Judy their children are Zoe and Zack.
The story opens with the family gathering at Larry and Judy’s home for Christmas dinner and right from the start we are thrown into the noise, chaos and emotions that often represents a family gathering at Christmas.
Zoe, recently separated from her husband, is trying to work out how to break the news to the family, not helped by the hunky barista she’s been fantasizing about having just mistaken her for his buddy’s step-mum!
Zack, screenwriter for a dramedy that ran for three decreasingly popular seasons, based more than a little loosely on Lydia and her family, has recently completed rehab for a series of addictions, is feeling washed up at thirty three, and has taken to using air quotes around mantras from his stint in rehab.
Judy, still smarting from a comment Lydia made 50 years ago, about her disappointment that Larry didn’t marry a woman with professional ambitions or feminist convictions, is working hard on acting martyred for having to create the Christmas dinner.
Marianna’s four year old twin girls are running riot pulling wrapping paper out of a garbage bag under the christmas tree and tearing it into confetti, while her husband Delvin Kelly plays obliviously on his phone.
Nina is a doctor with Physicians for Peace and has done three consecutive missions in Syria and is dealing with her own issues that she hasn’t shared with the family.
Beata, single mother to Oscar, is wondering where her sweet little boy went and who this monster teen that has taken over her son’s body is, and what she did wrong to create this monster.
Oscar chooses Christmas dinner to announce that Beata has lied to him all his life, he was not created by a sperm donor and he has found his dad and wants to meet him.
Marvin has been hit in the centre of the forehead by a ladle hurled by Zoe at Zack, that missed hitting him instead and has a huge red mark, and Larry is just quietly getting drunk in a corner.
And so the scene is set for the events of the year to follow with divorces, betrayals, confusions, surprises, recriminations, growth and more than a little humour as the characters from the two family branches, plus the supporting cast, wend their way through life’s challenges.
This is a fabulous read, easy and yet intense at the same time, and I highly recommend it.
My thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read and review.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I love to read, for many years my passion has been science fantasy but recently I’ve discovered many fabulous Australian women authors and am devouring all the new genres I am being exposed to.
In addition to reading and reviewing books I enjoy photography, spending time with my husband, daughter, grandson, 2 dogs and a cat and am an aspiring author.