Saturday 17 February 2018

Book ~ "The Last Laugh" (2018) Tracy Bloom

From GoodreadsJenny 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?

Jenny is in her mid-forties.  She is married to Mark, who she met twenty years ago when she was a tour rep in Greece and he was on vacation.  Mark is now successful and working long hours and is rarely around.  Jenny works in a retirement home as an entertainment coordinator for the residents.  Jenny and Mark have two teenage children ... a daughter who only cares about her best friend and a son who has anxiety issues.  Jenny's mother is judgmental towards her.  Jenny's father has dementia and she takes care of him when her mother needs to run errands.

Jenny has been having health issues.  Her doctor tells her that she has terminal cancer with 18 to 24 months left.  She heads over to tell her husband the news only to find him bent over a filing cabinet having sex with a blonde.  So she backs away and keeps her cancer and her husband's affair a secret.

Jenny feels  her life peaked in 1996.  She had a great job as a tour rep, she had great fun friends and she looked and felt great.  That year, her 25th birthday party was the best memory ever!  Rather than having a wake after she's gone, she decides to recreate that birthday while she is still here to enjoy it (her recent birthday was a disappointment).

This was the third book I read by this author and I thought it was okay.  I liked the writing style.  It's written in first person perspective from Jenny's point of view.  Given the subject matter, it was a bit of a tough book to read.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I wasn't crazy about the characters.  Jenny was a doormat and had let life pass her by.  Her family (except for her son) treated her like crap and she took it.  Mark had turned into an unsupporting cold jerk and she didn't feel close enough to him to let him know there was something wrong or to have with her at her doctor's appointment.  It was hard to believe she would put up with the backtalk she did from her daughter.  With the way her mother treated her, I'm surprised she did anything for her when she obviously favoured Jenny's brother, Antony, a surgeon, who was too busy to spend time with the family.  Jenny had fallen into a job at the retirement home and was too lazy to move on and do something else.  She let her old friendships go and her current friends are more like acquaintances.  She had no one to turn to when she received such devastating news.  I like that Jenny grew a backbone as the story progressed.

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