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How to Be Second Best
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How to Be Second Best

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,279 ratings  ·  188 reviews
A hilarious and heart-warming debut that captures the dramas, delights and delirium of modern parenting. This is Marian Keyes meets Allison Pearson, with a dash of Caitlin Moran.

Going from one child to two is never all that easy for a family, but when Emma's husband simultaneously fathers a third child three doors up the street, things get very tricky, very fast.

No longer
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 17th 2018 by HarperCollins - AU
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,279 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emma finds herself in the most bizarre situation. She has a son in school and a toddler. Her husband also has a toddler the same age – with the woman he left her to be with. Emma ends up at their beck and call, babysitting a LOT and even worse, taking her to ballet, swimming and French classes! Her family are trying to tell her to cut this out, and I wanted to shake sense into her as well. The new wife of course is almost perfect, running a Pilates studio with a zillion social media followers – ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brenda by: Lee
Emma was shocked and devastated when her husband Troy admitted to fathering another child around the same time as their daughter Freya was born. When he left to live with Helen and daughter Lola, he left Emma as a single mother to Tim and Freya. But it was them moving three doors down from Emma, then having her look after Lola with her two while both Troy and Helen worked, that slowly ate at Emma’s confidence. She was being used – big time – and she didn’t realise it. She was in effect, a single ...more
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

**4.5 stars**

How To Be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann. (2019).

Emma has just given birth to her second child when she finds out her husband has also just fathered a newborn with another woman. Things get tricky fast when he leaves her for the woman and then they soon move in three doors down. It's a convenient but lopsided co-parenting arrangement with Emma doing most of the caring for her two as well as their half-sibling. Three years
4.5 stars

How to Be Second Best is a bubbly, delightful novel about Emma, a divorced mother of two, who also minds and looks after her ex-husband's and his new wife's toddler. Emma and her ex live in houses on the same street. Emma knows that she's taken advantage of, especially as she seems to mind her ex's toddler more than her own parents. Admittedly, Emma's young kids have a strong bond with their half-sister, Lola. Emma herself has grown very fond of the little girl.

Emma finally realises it
I haven’t read a decent chick lit for a while but I’ve kick started the year with this excellent little debut novel by Aussie Jessica Dettmann.

The book is written in the first person point of view of Emma, a recently divorced mother of two. For the man-did-her-wrong plot, Emma’s ex, Troy, has a daughter the same age as his and Emma’s with his new wife, the Insta-glamorous Pilates instructor, Helen. To add to the tangled web, Emma not only lives in the same street as Helen and Troy but, as she j
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

4.5 stars

Jessica Dettman is a debut author with a fresh and nuanced signature style. Coming from a background as a senior editor for two major Australian publishing houses has put Dettman in good standing to produce her first full length novel. How to Be Second Best is a commercial women’s fiction title, with domestic noir elements and comedic timing that extends on Dettman’s popular blog, Life With Gusto.

Described a ‘hilarious’ and ‘heartwarming’, How to Be
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
How To Be Second Best by Jessica Dettman - what a great book. It had me laughing, wanting to cry and relating to scenarios that the characters got themselves into. I love a good light hearted read - even better when it is written by an Aussie. It was a fun book, with characters that felt real . Really enjoyed reading this one.

Emma's family is complicated. She has 2 children with her ex-husband Troy. He is now married to the glamourous pilates instructor Helen, with who he also has a child - born
M - The long hot spell
“I should have a slogan: Emma Baker - she's what happens when you're busy making other plans.”

How to be Second Best is a novel with an endearing main protagonist, a Bridget Jonesie feel (based on the movies - I haven't read the books yet), and some fine, fine writing.

Emma is a thirty something editor working from home to enable her to look after her school-aged son, kindy-aged daughter - and the daughter that her husband fathered with his pilate’s teacher. Mm. So, that is the setup. Emma can be
How To be Second Best is the debut novel from former editor and now author, Aussie Jessica Dettman. Using her editorial skills and her experiences as a mother of two, Dettman has written a witty story that cleverly examines the different types of parenting. Set in the fictional suburb of Shorewood in Sydney, How To be Second Best is told in the first person from Emma, a single mother. Emma chronicles her ordinary, everyday existence that we can all relate to with all it's good times and hard in ...more
4.5 stars. So happy to have a new fave Aussie adult contemporary author to (excitedly/impatiently) follow. Dettmann's debut How to Be Second Best is my kind of read. Smiley and fun ~wickedly funny in parts ~ with characters I genuinely cared for. Emma may frustrate some readers as she goes through her learning curve, but I loved her and her emotional journey. A lot of happiness and heart in this read ~ a reading highlight of 2019 for me. ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got an advance copy of this book and DEVOURED it (which I would also do to the cake on the cover if anyone's baking). If you're a reader of Jess Dettmann's blog, Life With Gusto, then you will already know she's super funny. The novel showcases that really well, but also looks at 21st-century family weirdness and the challenges of parenting with an ex and the pressure on mums to get EVERYTHING right in an authentic and moving way. I highly recommend How to Be Second Best, especially if you cho ...more
John Gilbert
I really wanted to like this first novel by Jessica Dettmann more than I did. There were lots of interesting things happening on and off, especially in that single mum Emma, whose ex lives a few doors away from her with his new daughter and his new wife. This daughter also happens to be the very same age as Emma's daughter. Her son is a couple of years older, but Emma ends up looking after her two children and their half sister most of the time as well.

There were good themes, and taking place in
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

How to be Second Best was a wonderful and hilarious read about how a woman named Emma navigates her new mess-of-a-life when her husband leaves her for another women. The book goes through Emma's transformative stages of being walked on like a doormat to her eventual understanding of sticking up for one's self.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and laughed out loud several times. Emma's insight to things like parenti
Ariela Bard
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those who have read the blog, Life With Gusto, can expect more of Dettmann’s hilarious insights into the realities of life with small children, and new readers are in for a treat. Touching and superbly written, How to be Second Best is compelling and riotously funny. No one has ever written a better account of what it’s like to get a child in and out of a swimming costume in a change room. Killed me. Smashing first novel. Can’t wait to read what she does next.
Theresa Smith
I don’t read a whole lot of comedy. I can mainly attribute this to the ‘chick-lit’ wave, a term that I particularly hate and a sub-genre that seems particularly saturated with un-funny, over the top antics by women whose main goals always seems to be romance oriented. So I tend to approach comedy with caution. How to be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann is not un-funny at all, in fact, it’s incredibly enjoyable. I actually really loved it. Emma’s character might not suit every reader, because she ...more
A lighthearted romantic comedy that highlights the ups and downs of modern parenthood.

HOW TO BE SECOND BEST by Jessica Dettmann examines what happens when Emma decides to be second best for a change.

She has been so busy trying to be the best at everything ever since her husband left her to start a family with another woman that she hasn’t realised just how much of a pushover she has become. By taking a step back from the competitiveness of modern parenting Emma’s life begins to fall into place,
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a fantastic read. Funny AND compelling, I smashed it over two nights and now can't stop thinking about it! The insights on love and compromise are spot on, but it is the way they are articulated that is most refreshing - the obvservational sense of humour is uniquely wry, the turn of phrase beautifully playful. Smashing combination for a first go fiction. ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
There must be something wrong with me because Ive never found a book that’s advertised as funny, to be funny. This book was described as hilarious but as usual I barely raised a smile and as for the main character, I can only describe her as pathetic. Two stars was a bit generous but I didn’t hate it and it was easy to read.
Amanda B
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super quick, fun read. I laughed out loud often while reading about Emma’s romantic escapades and her accurate depictions of motherhood.

This was a coming-of-age type story, except Emma is rediscovering herself in part two of her life, post-divorce. In addition to coping with her divorce and single motherhood, she’s caring for her ex-husband’s love child and is a total and complete pushover.

Dettman was able to frame her characters in such a way that you liked them despite their faults. Emma her
Meagan Houle
I read this book in two enthusiastic gulps, because it's so much fun. It's a little different than I was expecting--heftier, perhaps, more honest, but so funny and witty and heartwarming. I loved Emma and her bizarre little family, and I wish I could spend more time in her world. I'm not certain it's the sort of book that will linger for too long, but reading it was like drinking a great big mug of hot chocolate for my soul, and I think most readers will enjoy it as much as I did. ...more
Maya Linnell
Quite possibly the funniest book I've read all year! Every mother will relate (and chuckle) over this one. ...more
Bronwyn Isaac
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun read. The heroine Emma is having a pretty hard time in a lot of the book, but the writing is so engaging and entertaining that things never feel too dire.

I loved Dettmann’s wit and slightly sceptical take on modern middle-class parenting (and sleekly renovated houses). And there are some hilarious scenes that made me laugh out loud. My favourite is a description of ‘the runner’s high’ that comes in Week 6 of the Couch to 5K running app, which Emma never makes it past.

Katie Haden
May 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Big fat nope.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
This book was such a wonderful surprise. Not that I didn't expect it to be good, but it's the kind of book where you read the blurb and think, 'Hmmm, sounds like a good read.' And then you read it and you think, 'Wow! I love this book.'

I can think of many adjectives to describe this book; funny, charming, warm, poignant, heartwarming, real. All of them apply. What I particularly loved about this book is that I found so many moments that were relatable. Those head-nodding moments that i
Ann T
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Hatchett Australia and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.

I requested a copy of this ARC for two very valid reasons: the cake on the cover looked amazing and it is an Australian author. Shallow? Perhaps, but having been so miserably disappointed in recent attempts at this genre, being advertised as the best book to hit the shelves etc, I was dipping back to chick lit hesitantly and with low expectations.

Thank you Joy Dettman for changing my mind and star
Nikki Sims-Chilton
This was exactly the type of book I love! Light-hearted, funny and relatable in so many scenes.
This is the story of suburban Mum Emma who discovers her husband is cheating on her with a pilates instructor. When both she and the pilates instructor (Helen) find out they are pregnant at the same time, Emma discovers what it’s like to parent a ‘blended family’. Emma becomes somewhat of a "doormat," by helping take care of her ex’s new daughter (as well as her own). The book touches on many themes s
Kate Peper
A little contrived, but a very easy read. Interesting take on marriage & modern parenting. Troy sounded like a sociopath and it’s hard to feel sorry for him despite the redemption arch he has at the end of the story. Felt like there could of been another chapter to wrap things up even neater, but I think that was the point - a quick snapshot of 2 months in the life of Emma and her blended family. Easy, silly chick lit - a good escape from real life!
Bree T
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m going to preface this review by saying that I’m a second wife – although I didn’t come by my husband the way that Helen, the second wife in this story, did. My husband had been separated from his first wife for years when we met.

It was very difficult for me to buy this scenario I’m afraid. Emma’s husband cheated on her before she got pregnant with their second child and then all throughout that pregnancy. In fact Emma and the woman Troy was cheating on her with, were pregnant at the same tim
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, wonderful, funny, witty, one totally amazing book!!!! It deserves more than 5 stars!!!
Loved it, and will be re reading it again!!! Wonderful story, wonderful characters! I so hope this get's made into a movie!!!
So worth reading!!!
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