Julia Claiborne Johnson wrote one of my favorite books of all time: Be Frank With Me. My fondness for that book made it an easy decision to read Better Luck Next Time, the author’s latest novel.
It’s 1938, and it’s not as easy to get a divorce as it is nowadays. So rich women with cheating or abusive husbands came to a dude ranch in Reno, Nevada, where they spend the necessary six weeks to become a Nevada resident at which time they can easily divorce their husbands. The dude ranch — the Flying Leap — provideed women with a pleasurable experience while they waited out the six weeks. The ranch catered exclusively to these women.
Ward came to work at the ranch after his family lost all of their money in the stock market crash. He is handsome, fun, and knows how to keep a secret. And these women have lots of secrets to keep. He became particularly close to Nina — whose time at the dude ranch wasn’t her first. Nina not only befriends Ward, but also young Emily, who has left her abusive husband in San Francisco, and a teenage daughter who is taking her father’s side.
Nina teaches Emily about life, fun, and friendship. With Ward’s help, Emily experiences life in a way she never thought possible.
The author develops likeable characters with interesting lives. I was rooting for the band of women who are leaving their comfortable lives with their wealthy families and learning how to live on their own.
I enjoyed the novel very much.