Black Swan ( an imprint of Transworld Publishers) 11th June 2020
Jennifer Cole has been told that she has three months to live – ninety days to say goodbye and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives she realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid.
So Jennifer writes letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex husband, and her charming, unreliable ex boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.
At first, she feels liberated. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always what it seems. Death has a way of surprising you…
Thank you so much to Georgina Moore at Midas PR for sending me a proof copy of this book. Note the name change from the proof to the final copy – this book is now called Life and Other Happy Endings but was provisionally called Death and Other Happy Endings. This was a fun and entertaining read with some strong messages throughout. With only 3 months to live Jennifer is determined to ‘end well,’ telling 3 important people what she needs them to know. Unsurprisingly this triggers a reaction from each person, all saddened by Jennifer’s news but keen to support her to the end. Without spoilers, things don’t turn out as expected but there are key lessons to be learnt for Jennifer and indeed for the reader.
A quote, attributed to Pope John Paul VI prefaces the book and I couldn’t word it better,
Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.’
And that is what is at the heart of this book, we don’t know what lies ahead, we don’t know how long we have and through Jennifer we can see the benefit of honest conversations. With her sister, who she shared a difficult relationship with, built on a lack of honesty and limited by how their parents perceived them, and with her ex who she was never sure if she should have fought for more, never sure if he was the one who got away.
Things don’t necessarily go to plan but I enjoyed the message of not putting things off until tomorrow and making sure you leave with no regrets. Despite a potentially heavy theme this was a light and highly readable book that would appeal to any fans of contemporary female fiction.
Publishing this week and perfect lock down reading if like many, light fiction is what works for you.
About the Author
Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes. In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross Station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign. She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.