Thursday, 30 December 2021

Book Review: Happy Hour by Jacquie Byron

Happy Hour
by
Jacquie Byron 
 
Franny loves her dogs, her cocktails and her solitude. But life has other plans...
 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
 
Publication date: 31st August 2021
 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 352
 
RRP: $32.99 AUD
 
Format read: Uncorrected proof paperback

Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
About the book
 
Gin in one hand, paintbrush in the other, Franny Calderwood has turned her back on the world, or at least the world she used to love. Having lost her husband, Frank, in tragic circumstances three years earlier, 65-year-old Franny copes the only way she knows how: by removing herself completely from the life she had before. Franny lives a life of decadent seclusion, with only her two dogs, Whisky and Soda, a stuffed cat, cocktails and the memory of Frank for company.

Then the Salernos move in next door. The troubled but charming trio - beleaguered mother Sallyanne, angry teenager Dee and eccentric eight-year-old Josh - cannot help but pull Franny into the drama of their lives. But despite her fixation with independence, Franny's wisecracks and culinary experiments hide considerable trauma and pain, and when her eccentric behaviour has life-threatening consequences she faces a reckoning of sorts. Yes, Frank is dead, but did the woman he loved have to perish with him?

A story about one woman, two dogs and the family next door, Happy Hour is a hilarious and uplifting insight into grief, loss, true love and friendship.
 
My review:
 
Happy Hour is a thought provoking story of love, loss, friendship and forgiveness.
 
People often ask 'what book changed your life' and I can never really think of a book that was so profound it literally changed my life. However, I think Happy Hour has come close by changing my attitude towards friends I may have given up on a little too easily.

Franny is wallowing in self pity. For the last three years, since the death of her beloved husband, Franny has spent her days with her dogs and her memories, clock watching until she can have that first drink of the day. She has pushed everyone out of her life.

I loved Franny's family and friends who consistently rang her and asked her over, never giving up after three long years of excuses.
At times her self pity became too much for me and I did feel annoyed with her. And then Jacquie Byron gives us this quote....

"No one can criticise the way someone else handles grief." (so true)

Many part of Happy Hour are heart-breaking but there are also many heartwarming situations surrounding the blossoming inter-generational friendship between Franny and her young neighbours.

Byron puts her characters in difficult situations that make the reader stop and think about their own reaction to these situations.
Humour offers lightness in a book heavy with themes of loss, grief and alcohol abuse.
 
Happy Hour is a story that will make you stop and think. A fabulous debut! Funny, engaging and heartwarming. 

My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐




About the author

Jacquie Byron grew up with wishing-chairs and Trixie Belden. Her love of reading morphed into a love of writing, leading her to study journalism while waitressing her way around various bars and tables in Melbourne and, for a short stint, the UK. Collecting and sharing stories has kept her busy professionally for more than twenty-five years, taking her from the Ogden Museum in New Orleans to an IDP camp in Uganda. Shocking herself as much as those around her, Jacquie has been a motoring writer, a jewellery editor, a fashion publicist and more. Today she writes for business and for pleasure. Happy Hour is her first novel. Whisky is her first cairn.
 
 

Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021

 
                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21


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