Bibliophile | Kate Hilton’s ‘Better Luck Next Time’ finds laughs in family drama

Better Luck Next Time
by Kate Hilton
Allen & Unwin

We meet the Goldstein-Hennessey family at a Christmas gathering of the clan and fortunately there is a list of characters at the beginning of the book to help keep track of them as the reader follows the many unfolding dramas.

Trying to play happy families are sister and brother, Zoe and Zack. Advertising executive Zoe is not going to talk about her imminent divorce from her cheating husband and fresh out of rehab Zack doesn’t want to dwell on the disappointment of his latest script for a pilot television series.

Their Aunt Lydia is there with her three daughters – Mariana, Nina and Beata. Renowned feminist activist and writer Lydia is disappointed that her daughters all seem to be self-destructing and struggling with the limitations of a post-feminist world as they enter middle-age.

Journalist Mariana finds her self-esteem at an all time low after her divorce which she sees as “a parade of indignity and sleep-stealing, energy-sapping worry: body dysmorphia, financial fear, sexual insecurity, reluctance to trust, and anxiety about her children – in particular what they will say about her in therapy.”

Nina is a doctor who has just returned from a medical mission and a broken relationship overseas. Reiki practitioner and craniosacral therapist Beata is being challenged by her teenage son who has discovered that his father wasn’t an anonymous sperm donor. Then, in the middle of the family’s dramas, is the lesbian divorce lawyer Eloise.

Zack had previously scripted a very successful television drama that was based on their family, but most of the relatives wish that they were part of a family that was “less worthy of television treatment”. Fortunately the romantic comedy is all about learning from your mistakes and having better luck the second time around.

When author Kate Hilton said that she was going to write a divorce comedy, people asked how such an oxymoron was possible, but she said that “time and reflection can transform even the most painful experience into a good story”.

What a difference a year makes. It is great to share the struggles as the characters laugh at themselves, get honest about their illusions and find their feet … all while Lydia prepares for the biggest political demonstration of her life.

Lezly Herbert

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