Today I am delighted to be able to share my thoughts on Happily Whatever After by Stewart Lewis, a story of family friendships and new beginnings. My thanks to the author for inviting me to review and providing a copy of the book. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
A dark comedy about putting yourself in unexpected places, reaching for your dreams, and believing in second chances.Available from: Amazon
Thirtysomething Page was content with her life in New York City—until it went to the dogs. Unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend of four years and fired from her art gallery job in the same week, she flees to Washington, DC, and moves in with her big brother. She hopes the new setting and familial comfort will help her finally find her bearings. What Page finds instead is an unlikely refuge: a park for the neighborhood’s poshest pooches, and a quirky pack of companionable dog-run regulars who become fast friends.
Both four-legged and two-, these new allies offer Page a world of possibilities. The woman who hit rock bottom now has dreams: of having her own business, getting her own place, and even wilder ones about the ruggedly handsome owner of a vineyard and two equally fetching Bernese mountain dogs.
Unleashed from all that once held her back, Page finds everything might be falling into place. But just when she thinks her life is headed in the right direction, the road takes a sharp turn to show her just how unpredictable second chances can be. Will Page get her happily ever after? Is there even such a thing?
Witty, smartly funny, and modernly romantic, Happily Whatever After shows us all that sometimes imperfect can still be good enough.
Are there many of us out there who haven’t, at last once in their lifetime, wondered what it would be like to start all over again? Just pack up, move towns and make a fresh start somewhere else, hopefully in a job you love. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Well imagine all of that, wrapped up in a lot of emotion, a healthy dose of good humour, some romance and a whole park full of dogs and you have yourselves Happily Whatever After, the charming romantic story of new beginnings from the pen of Stewart Lewis.
Now if you are a keen follower of this blog, you will know that I don’t often stray from the dark and twisted path of crime fiction and when, or indeed if, I do, it has to be with good reason. I would say that this book is very good reason. What i found within the pages was a book that made me laugh, smile and completely engage in the life of Page and her mismatched circle of friends and family as she navigates the streets, and dog park of Washington. Newly single and out of a job, she hightails it away from New York to find solace in the company of her brother, Brady who is creating his own future in the shape of a very success bar and restaurant.
Page is the kind of person I can identify with. She’s well educated and has her interests – in this case art and dogs – but is kind of drifting through life, not able to find her true vocation or the passion that will allow her to achieve her full potential. I think many of us have been there, settling for a job to gain an income but knowing it’s not what you really want to do. Slightly depressed and definitely looking for a ligeline, she seeks solace in a local dog park, hoping that not too many people ask her where her imaginary dog is. They do … but that’s no bad thing as this set her on a journey into friendship, self discovery and maybe, if she is lucky, a touch of that missing romance too.
I really liked the characters that the author has created both in Page and in those that she meets. From her down to earth brother, his well to do girlfriend and through to the people from the dog park, especially Barkley and Preston who seem like chalk and cheese but make a brilliant couple and two very good and kind friends to Page. Then there is Kevin, a man whose awkward outer appearance speaks nothing of his hidden talents. And, of course there is Banana Republic aka Mark. I think we definitely all need one of those in our lives but sadly I’m not sure I’m going to find one down my local canal, no matter how many dog walkers I pass. Add in a bunch of varied and vibrant people to begin to form Page’s new network of friends and dates, and you have a brilliant group whose various lives and foibles kept me glued to the story
But it’s not all about comedy moments, misunderstandings, missed opportunities and dodgy dates though. There are some real moments of emotion and sadness that permeate the story as Page’s brother, Brady, fights his own battle this time with illness. The author has created some very tender and thoughtful scenes between the pair, as well as moments of real honesty between Page and her mother who had sometimes struggled to communicate. So whilst perhaps overly convenient in the way in which everything just falls into place for Page (and yes, I admit it, I am jealous of a fictional character as I’m still trying to get my own act together after xxx years) it still has that air of authenticity and left me pleased that Page found her happy ending.
And there are dogs. Lots and lots of lovely, made, sometimes bonking, always beautiful dogs. They’re not without their tear jerking moments too, don’t get me wrong, but every single canine personality is captured on the page and just adds to the joy of the story overall. I loved it, and wouldn’t hesitate to read more by the author.
If you are looking for a fun, thoughtful, romantic bit of escapism for the summer, this is the book for you. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Stewart Lewis is the author of six previous novels, including You Have Seven Messages, which has been translated into five languages. He is also an acclaimed singer-songwriter who has opened for such artists as Shawn Colvin, Graham Nash, Better Than Ezra, and others. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and Nantucket, Massachusetts.