A Story of Love, Heartbreak, and Everything in Between #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Better Luck Next Time: A Novel

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Copyright 2021


What Amazon Says


“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 eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling 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 we come from.


My Thoughts


I like how the author tells the story from Ward’s first-person point of view. It’s as if you’re visiting him fifty years later, and he’s telling you his story. Some of it is funny, and some of it isn’t. This book offers a variety of life lessons on not just marriage and divorce. The ending will surprise and move you.


By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.


New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.



My Amazon Author Page





Exploring the Deep

Tongue River Cave is located in the Bighorn National Forest west of Dayton, Wyoming, which is about twenty miles north of Sheridan, my hometown. When I was a kid, my family explored it once or twice but didn’t get very far. In our last Range Writers meeting a little over a week ago, we wrote about the cave. Our facilitator gave us maps and a list of rooms inside the cave. We each picked a room and wrote a description and story or poem about it. The rooms had such names as the Sand Room, the Dead Cowboy Room, and the Rain Room. The Dead Cowboy Room struck my fancy. Due to my visual impairment, I couldn’t see on the map where it was located so I used my imagination and vague childhood memories. Here’s what I wrote.

A small chamber with a high ceiling, the Dead Cowboy Room is actually the entrance to Tongue River Cave. A cowboy named Phil actually died there. He worked on a nearby ranch during the late 19th century.

One wintry Saturday night after drinking too much at a tavern in nearby Dayton, he was returning to the ranch on horseback. Something spooked the horse, and the animal took off. Phil couldn’t control him and couldn’t stay in the saddle. By some miraculous twist of fate, he wasn’t seriously injured when he fell, but being inebriated, he still had trouble walking.

To make things worse, snow was falling fast, obscuring his vision. He somehow managed to climb the steep slope to Tongue River Cave. After crawling inside, he passed out. Needless to say, he froze to death and wasn’t found until spring. That’s how the entrance to the cave became known as The Dead Cowboy Room.

Now, here’s a little information I found on Wikipedia. Mapped in 1969 by the National Speleological Society, Tongue River Cave is noted for rare cave formations and animal species. With a depth of 106 feet and containing 1.23 miles of passages, it is composed of two river channels: one active and one abandoned. The active passage is an underground portion of the Little Tongue River that resurges farther east down the canyon, beginning in a sump and ending in a fissure. The abandoned channel is mostly dry and ends in a sand-filled chamber. Both channels intersect approximately half a mile into the cave in a large chamber called the Boulder Room. Exploration efforts have been hampered by low water temperatures and difficulty hauling adequate scuba gear through tight passages.

In recent decades, Tongue River Cave suffered from vandalism and theft as result of unrestricted traffic. Closed in 2010 and deemed beyond preservation, it is now managed by the U.S. Forest Service as a “sacrifice cave.” To learn more, click here.

Have you ever explored a cave? What was it like? How far did you go?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver