Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Review by Lara Ferguson)

1 min read

Rating: 4/5

Who knew there was a divorce business in the 1930’s? Welcome to The Flying Leap Dude Ranch, just outside Reno, Nevada, the erstwhile “divorce capital of the world.” A place where wealthy women can cool their heels and be catered to while they wait out the six-week residency required by the state to secure their divorces. Here, they can find everything they need, including attractive, solicitous “cowboys,” who can take their minds off of their troubles, provide a sympathetic ear as well as something nice to look at.

Our hero, Ward, a young man of 24, has been forced to support himself after his family lost everything as a result of The Great Depression. Pretty and smart (he did a year at Yale), he finds himself at the ranch surrounded by a myriad of women, some on their first divorce and some on their third or more. He thinks he has it all figured out until two new guests show up and force him to unlearn what he thinks he knows. His interactions with them are in turn, funny, heart-wrenching, and oh so educational.

Told in the first person, this novel provides a sometimes light-hearted, often hilarious look at marriage, divorce, family, and friendship in a way that also spotlights the ways that friends can alter our perceptions and shake our lives in ways that allow us to experience new hurts as we heal old ones.

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