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Publisher's Summary

"Do you want to read something funny? Let’s say, a novel set at a divorce ranch in Reno in the 1930s? A book with memorably eccentric characters, sparkling dialogue, a satisfying plot twist, and some romance and sex? A feel-good literary comedy/western? Here it is, then, the book you've been looking for: Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time." (Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement)

The long anticipated second novel from the best-selling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938, and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world”, Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: They have to wait six weeks to become “residents”. Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need. 

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks - “Cary Grant in cowboy boots” - Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St. Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno. 

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family from which we come.

©2021 Julia Claiborne Johnson (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Better Luck Next Time

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  • Overall
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Delightful Storytelling

A charming narrator, unique narrative, spunky characters, sweet ending, a very enjoyable listen while taking a walk, doing the dishes or daydreaming.

4 people found this helpful

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Adore this wonderful story!

Knowing absolutely nothing of divorce ranches, (who knew?) I loved being transported back in time through the telling of this precious story of love, loss, and the meaning of true friendships. Johnson's story reverberated with me on so many levels...as a child of divorce, the daughter of a "cowboy wanna be", and as a woman who treasures friends who stick by you through thick and thin. David Aaron Baker, the narrator in the audio book, performs each voice as if each character lives in his bones, and I found myself wanting to curl up next to Ward with a coffee and quilt as he shared his heart, his humor, and his ability to accept life as it plays out with humor and grace. Julia Claiborne Johnson strikes chord after chord with her characters. Her gift of timing, spot-on clever and precise expressions, and dialogue makes you feel like a lucky fly on the wall in the narrator's presence. Johnson's gift of storytelling, her ability to create characters with depth and originality, and her timing kept me turning pages and forgetting my to-do list for the day. I adore every minute I get to wallow in her stories!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • SB
  • 11-28-21

Boring and annoying

This story is terribly boring. There is not much of a plot and very little happens. The soon-to-be divorcees Nina and Emily are two of the most annoying fictional characters I have come across in quite some time. I wanted to slap both of them. There is nothing but inane conversations and stupid situations. I think the author was going for hilarious hi jinx, but failed spectacularly. This is a dud. Spend your time and money elsewhere.

1 person found this helpful

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This is just what you need right now

The author came to speak (on a webinar) at our local library and she was as delightful as her book. The characters welcome you into this engaging, clever and historically fascinating story and stay with you long after you’ve finished. The narrator is perfectly suited and made the experience even better.

1 person found this helpful

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A thoroughly delightful read!

I really enjoyed this book! It was a great story with interesting, vibrant characters, laugh out loud lines, and insights into the 1930s. The performance was so well done, I felt like I was right there.

1 person found this helpful

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Goes nowhere

The premise is a good one, but it is told in a silly, trite way. I couldn’t get into it. The characters were predictable and shallow.

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Fun idea but nothing happens

This book has good ingredients, but falls flat when absolutely nothing happens. Halfway through, I realized the entire book was just dull conversations or starting to do something that peters out.

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Story for Understanding People

Good story with characters who had all too human traits in an interesting setting. Just good listening to a slower paced novel which encompassed the flaws and goodness of people.

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Amazing, sweet and funny

l bought this book on a Black Friday sale based solely on the cover, but it turned out to be such a gem. Funny, warm and all around delightful, I finished it in one go.
David does such a good job with narration as well that it's pure joy to listen.
Would highly recommend.

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Not worth your time!

The characters Nina and Emily did such silly things that had no real meaning or lesson from real life.
I very much liked Ward, the doctor, narrating the book.
I wouldn’t recommend this book.