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Check It Out: Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

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This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out. 

The bestselling author of Be Frank with Me—a book I absolutely adored—returns with her eagerly anticipated second novel. It’s a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, all set in late 1930s Reno. Today, I’m recommending Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson.    

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions-asked split from their husbands, head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s just 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. 

24-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 (think Cary Grant in cowboy boots), Ward thinks he’s got the ranch’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. 

It’s a novel about divorce, marriage, and everything in between. Told from Ward’s perspective, this big-hearted story has such memorably eccentric characters, clever and funny dialogue, a super satisfying plot twist, and of course a little bit of romance. But what really makes this tale a winner in my book, is how in it, Julia Claiborne Johnson sticks to what she does best. 

Check out Better Luck Next Time or other amusing historical fiction like it at the Sioux City Public Library.      

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.