“What’s your book about?” Mark asked.
“A woman diagnosed with a terminal illness on the same day she finds out her husband is cheating on her.”
Mark looked horrified: “Why on earth would you want to read that?”
“It’s really good, honestly.”
He didn’t look convinced but maybe I didn’t sell it very well?
Although a new author to me, if Tracy Bloom’s other books are like The Last Laugh she definitely has a new fan.
Yes, on the surface it doesn’t seem like a novel about dying and infidelity would be especially enjoyable but it really is – plus it’s about so much more than that.
Tracy writes with a sort of gallows humour that I really like but also with so much emotion, I felt instantly connected to the main character, Jenny, like I was part of her life.
It helped also that there is a massive hit of nostalgia for the year 1996 in this book, which was not only a particularly good year for Jenny but also for me (I was still at uni having the time of my life). Some of her memories brought a huge smile to my face.
Anyway, here’s the blurb:
‘I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’
‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’
Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…
Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.
And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.
Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?
While death is obviously a lingering theme, family and friendships play a huge part in this book – especially as Jenny attempts to get everything in order (I’ll warn you now, I shed some tears).
The fact that she’s only a couple of years older than me certainly hit home and, after I had finished, I definitely felt thankful to have my health but it also inspired to try and make the most of the life I have.
If there is one small criticism it would be that I felt like some fairly big issues were resolved a little too easily – such her husband’s infidelity but also her son’s clinically diagnosed anxiety. Although, it was only a couple of hours after I had finished that I really thought about that. At the time I was just happy that it ended the way it did. It certainly didn’t put me off from immediately going in search of her other books – of which, I am happy to say, there are several.
Price: £1.99 (via Amazon).
My rating: Four and a half stars.
With thanks to Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.