Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom. A big thank you to Kim Nash from Bookouture for inviting me to join the tour. Let’s start by taking a look at what this book is all about.
About the Book
Jenny 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 1990s 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?
From No. 1 bestseller Tracy Bloom, The Last Laugh is both hilarious and heartbreaking, a book about how to find happiness and live your life as though every day is your last. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and The Kicking the Bucket List.
Don’t let the title fool you. While this book does contain some moment that will make you smile, others that may make you laugh out loud, it is also poignant and thought-provoking. The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom is no simple rom-com. although elements of it do reflect upon the happy time in protagonist Jenny’s life when she met the love of her life. In truth it is a funny and moving look at one persons attempt to come to terms with their future, one which is much shorter than they may have expected.
Wife and mother of two Jenny works as an events coordinator of sorts in an old persons home. She longs for the life she used to live as a holiday rep in Greece, one where she was carefree and happy, but she also knows that she is happy with her lot. Happy with her children and her husband Mark, even if Mark is too busy to listen to her, her daughter Ellie is a little flighty and too easily swayed by her dominant friend, and son George is quiet and beset with anxiety. She wouldn’t change a thing … Until he receives the news from her Doctor that her recent weight loss isn’t as innocent as she might have hoped. Add to the mix that on the day of her diagnosis she discovers her marriage isn’t as perfect as she might have hoped and suddenly life is not so rosy.
Her friend and care home resident Maureen tries to help her come to terms with it all, the terminal diagnosis for her life and her marriage, taking her with a funeral to plan her perfect send off. But this isn’t what Jenny wants or needs. Funerals are for those who are left behind. Jenny wants to make the most of now and boy does she.
What I love about this book is the way in which Tracy Bloom has blended the past and present, taking the reader back to Jenny’s hey day, some twenty years earlier, when she was ‘Tour Rep of the Season’, the wonderful summer in which she met Mark, and the present where her life is far from perfect. She has perfectly captured the routine of family life, the highs and lows of it all, even the secret disappointment when Jenny’s birthday plans don’t go so well. When you hear her story, you can understand perfectly why she might want to recapture her youth and you can fully understand why she struggles to relate to her friends or to open up to them, with the notable exception of Maureen.
I really liked Maureen. She was open and honest in the way that only the older generation seem to be able. Her hobby of sending birthday and Christmas cards to try to ensure people gp tp her funeral seems quite funny, but then it is something that rings true when you think of a generation of people who like to scour the dispatches column in the local paper so that they can tick another friend off their list. Nothing she does or says is in a heartless way and in many ways her frankness is a help to Jenny. She certainly adds good humour to the story, particularly the blunt way in which she diagnoses and exposes one og George’s reasons for his anxiety. Now that scene really did make me chuckle.
I really enjoyed reading Jenny’s story but there were times when I jut wished she would be more honest with folk. The underhanded way in which she manipulated her mother and brother into spending time together, just to avoid telling them the truth. Don’t get me wrong – their’s was a fractious relationship, especially that with her ‘perfect’ brother, but in these situations it just feels like honesty would be so much easier. I know that people react in many different ways to a terminal diagnosis, and that in this case Jenny just wanted to have one more blast before she started her treatment or worse. It certainly had an air of authenticity about it and I can imagine many people reacting in this way. It’s just … well if you read you’ll understand how much time was wasted when she was truly surrounded by love.
Because of that, because of the ending, this is a really poignant story. We are left with a feeling of resignation for Jenny’s plight, but also of hope. Maybe there can’t be a happy ending here, and it is strange reading a book which has an inevitable ending and yet is full of moments of laughter too – Jenny’s attempt to recreate Ginger Spice’s look would count amongst them – but we are left with hope. Hope for a happy-as-it-can-be-in-the-circumstances ending. And the ending will make you go awww. Even I went awww and I don’t awww often.
If you are looking for a funny, heart warming and moving read then this could be your book. Give it a whirl and join Jenny as she throws that one last ‘beach party’. You won’t regret it.
My thanks to publisher Bookouture for the advance copy of The Last Laugh for review. It is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
Tracy started writing when her cruel, heartless husband ripped her away from her dream job shopping for rollercoasters for the UK’s leading theme parks, to live in America with a brand new baby and no mates. In a cunning plan to avoid domestic duties and people who didn’t understand her Derbyshire accent, she wrote her romantic comedy, NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX ON A TUESDAY. This debut novel went on to be successfully published internationally and became a #1 Best Seller.
Make sure to check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour.