Review: Happy Hour by Jacquie Byron


Title: Happy Hour

Author: Jacquie Byron

Published: 31st August 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read August 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin



My Thoughts:


Written with warmth, sensitivity, and humour, Jacquie Byron explores grief, guilt, forgiveness and atonement in her debut novel, Happy Hour.

In the three years since the sudden death of her beloved husband, Franny Calderwood has created a solitary life that suits her. Avoiding the company of those she and her husband once called friends, she passes the time with painting, solo excursions, gourmet cooking, and caring for her dogs, Whisky and Soda, often with a glass of wine or a cocktail at hand.

When the Salerno family – newly single mother Sallyanne, teenager Dee and eight year old Josh move in next door, Franny surprises herself by welcoming them in her life, but bad habits are hard to break, and when Franny reverts to her old ways, she must finally confront everything she has lost, to keep what she has gained.

I feel the storyline of Happy Hour is somewhat reminiscent of Fredrik Backman’s ‘A Man Called Ove’, but it definitely has its own unique tone, and doesn’t suffer in the comparison. Happy Hour offers heartfelt emotion and light, funny moments, but Bryon also explores difficult feelings associated with loss, and touches on serious issues including domestic violence, addiction and neonatal loss. I was worried that Byron would favour forgiveness over atonement , and I was very glad that this was not the case.

Franny, a 65 year-old artist and children’s book author, is an appealing character. Despite her heartbreak, she is quick-witted, cultured, generous, as well as a touch eccentric, particularly after a drink or three. It’s said that there is no wrong or right way to grieve, but it’s clear that Franny’s way of coping is not exactly healthy, and her behaviour could even be construed as selfish. Byron successfully walks the line though, so that Franny evokes sympathy, even when she acts badly. I loved the relationships Fanny formed with the Salerno family, encouraging self-belief in both the rebellious Dee, and sensitive Josh.

Funny, charming and poignant, Happy Hour is a sparkling novel.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$32.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate W
    Sep 11, 2021 @ 09:26:28

    Coincidentally, I’m also reading a new release titled Happy Hour (by Marlowe Granados), which has a very different focus to this one!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Cindy Davis
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 10:00:59

    Have you read A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate? It is also a very humorous read.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Trackback: Its Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  4. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Sep 14, 2021 @ 02:26:40

    I like the sound of this one! I tend to enjoy these older characters…I wonder why that is? LOL

    Liked by 1 person


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