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Better Luck Next Time

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  5,231 ratings  ·  1,004 reviews
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
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published January 5th 2021 by Custom House
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  5,231 ratings  ·  1,004 reviews

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I previously read Be Frank With Me by this same author and loved it, but unfortunately this one was a bit of a letdown for me in comparison. This is for the most part more of a character driven novel instead of a plot driven novel, which can already be a negative for some people but I actually like these kinds of novels. The problem for me was that the two main characters of this particular story, Ward and Emily, actually felt like the weakest characters of the book. I wish we got to 'see' more ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-soft-copy
Do you know about the divorce ranches in Reno, Nevada? This is the second or third book I’ve read in the last couple years that focuses on the “Reno Cure,” in the “divorce capital of the world, where women would travel to Nevada for a quickie divorce. Better Luck Next Time is such a fun blend of a book: historical fiction, quirky characters, lots of humor, a bit of a twist, and even some romance.

But this book isn’t really about the divorces. It’s about friendship, love, and second chances and la
Katie B
I always welcome the opportunity to read a historical fiction book that does not take place during World War 2 as that seems to dominate the genre. A story revolving around a 1930s dude ranch in Nevada where wealthy women come to stay as they await their divorce paperwork to be finalized was certainly enough to convince me to check this one out. An interesting idea and I appreciate the author's attempt to bring something different to the genre. Unfortunately, I can't say I loved the actual readi ...more
Jenny Lawson
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I'd like this as it looked a bit too romancey for me but I really loved it. Perhaps because my grandmother was a black-jack dealer in Reno and was divorced during this same time period? For whatever reason it worked for me in a comforting watching an old black and white film. ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
“You know it’s time to file for divorce when all your fantasies about your husband involve him being dead.”

I’m pretty sure Barnes & Noble’s ceaseless emails pushing this for their book club was the driving force behind me adding it to the TBR. (It definitely wasn’t the ugly cover!) Anyway, I read the premise before putting in my library request and while I’m not a huge reader of historic fiction, the premise of wealthy women basically vacationing while awaiting their “quickie” (a/k/a six
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
3.75 Cowboy Stars

Exploring the world of a Reno ranch in the late 1930s when women seeking divorces would stay for six weeks to speed up the process! This one is from the point of view from a young and handsome ranch hand who was asked to work as much as possible with his shirt off!

There are some memorable characters with big personalities in this one and a bit of romance thrown in too. Many of the women were wealthy and some were on multiple divorces! Our narrator, Ward, is a hard-working ranch
Diana | Book of Secrets
2.5 Stars — Set in 1938, BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME gives a snap shot of life on a Nevada dude ranch for out-of-state wealthy women seeking a quickie divorce. They simply live there for six weeks to establish residency, and then they’re free.

The story is told through Ward’s eyes, a young man working as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. He becomes entangled in the drama and shenanigans of two clients, Emily and Nina, one leaving a cheating husband in San Francisco, and the other an heiress working on d
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humorous-fiction
"There really is no predicting whether the person you marry will be a keeper, is there?"
Dr. Howard Stovall Bennett III

"Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today . . ."
Tammy Wynette

Once upon a time there was one way to easily dissolve a not-so-happily-ever-after marriage, and it involved establishing residency in Reno, Nevada for six weeks. So many women made a beeline for the state, that a small industry sprang up to accommodate their needs as they waited to become separated from their spouses. Se
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
In response to the Great Depression, Nevada did two things to turbocharge its economy: legalize gambling and reduce the waiting time to grant a divorce from the national standard sixth months to "only" six weeks. Luxury ranches sprang up in response to this, catering to wealthy women who wanted to end their current marriage.

Better Luck Next Time is a love story set in one of these commercial monuments to the end of love. Not surprisingly, it isn't always a happy story, but I really enjoyed seve
Robinne Lee
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
First book I've read from beginning to end in over 12 months. And what a lovely welcome back to the world of fiction! I was transported to Reno circa 1938, far far away from Covid and the insurrection and everything going on in our world right now. And I thoroughly enjoyed the diversion. Julia crafts a beautiful story with delicious detail and characters that will stay with you. Ward's voice is distinct and unique, giving this tale such a lovely regional flavor. He feels very much of that time a ...more
Gary Branson
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
Like the premise but very shallow, poorly executed. Narrator, Ward, is about the dumbest hero I’ve read in a long time.
Larry H
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars.

Better Luck Next Time , Julia Claiborne Johnson's new book, is a fun and poignant look at marriage, divorce, friendship, love, and finding yourself.

In 1938, if women wanted a quick divorce they had to go to Reno, Nevada, where after a six-week stay which gave them residency, their divorce would be granted. Some of the wealthier women stayed at the Flying Leap, a dude ranch (also known as a “divorce ranch”), where they could enjoy pampering and companionship until their six-week time
Cindy Burnett
Nov 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Better Luck Next Time is historical fiction set on a divorce ranch outside of Reno, Nevada in the 1930s, told from the perspective of a man named Ward. The ranch houses women who are required to spend six weeks in Nevada to gain residency and then they can obtain a divorce. When the story opens, it is his present day, and he begins to reflect back on one particular six weeks, and the two women Nina and Emily that changed the trajectory of his lif ...more
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I adored Julia Johnson’s book “Be Frank With Me” and “Better Luck Next Time” was equally delightful to read. I didn’t know how well a book described as a comic literary western would work, but in Julia’s hands it truly lived up to that description. The characters are so well developed that I really became invested in their lives and would love to read a sequel. There is something about Julia’s writing that is very cinematic because I could easily envision the whole book playing out in front of m ...more
Lesley Bourg
Jul 16, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-wins
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson is an interesting historical fiction that takes the reader (well at least this reader) to a place I have never been before: a “divorce ranch” located in Reno, Nevada in the 1930s. I will let the reader find out more about the concept of the ranch. (Maybe I am the only one that didn’t know that Reno was known for “quickie divorces” at a time when divorce was difficult and most certainly frowned upon.)

I enjoyed learning the stories of Emily, Nina, a
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Better Luck Next Time is a unique story idea for historical fiction, focusing on a dude ranch for divorcees in 1938. The concept is a breath of fresh air from the glut of World War II novels that fill the shelves right now. That being said it didn't do all that much for me, either in concept or in execution. The story is narrated by Ward, who was a staff member on the ranch, as a now retired folksy small town doctor. Some may find this charming, but the reminiscing periodically interrupted by hi ...more
Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe
Feb 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
First of all, thank you so much to Bookclub Girl, William Morrow, and Julia Claiborne Johnson for my copy of Better Luck Next Time! This was another type of book I never read, a funny historical novel about marriage, divorce, and love. It was about a ranch outside of Reno where soon to be divorced women could go and wait for it to be finalized. The story was from the perspective of a ranch hand named Ward who lost everything in the Great Depression before he came to work at the Flying Leap. He i ...more
Renée Rosen
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, touching--altogether brilliant. If you loved BE FRANK WITH ME (and who didn't?!) this book is for you. ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Julia Claiborne Johnson’s novels are quirky in the most fantastic way. I really enjoyed learning about divorce dude ranches in Reno. The cast of characters was vibrant and memorable and endearing.

3.5 star
Brittany McCann
This book was a delightful breath of fresh air! I loved the jaunt through a divorcee dude ranch.

Ward was a loveable character, and the ladies were all hot messes.

There was a lot of humor and historical fiction.

Wonderfully written by Julia Claiborne Johnson. I haven't yet had the chance to experience, Be Frank With Me, but I hear nothing but good things.

I highly recommend this one.

5 Stars
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Better Luck Next Time was a different adventure for me when going down a historical route. Mostly because every time I dive into a historical book, ARC or not, it's mostly around a war. So, I'm not going to lie - this was different and I was really excited to take the chance to dive into it.

Since I've never been married, divorced, or wanted to go to a camp with people - this intrigued me. Yeah, I went to summer camp for soc
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarything
I had heard good reviews of Julia Claiborne Johnson's debut novel Be Frank With Me. I was intrigued by the cover of Better Luck Next Time, the vintage photo of women at play. I am so, so happy that I put in my name in to win an ARC. This was a bright, warm, and happy light in the midst of Michigan's dismal winter and COVID-19 self isolation.

I laughed out loud, starting with the first page with the narrator's epigram, "Some men are born gigolos; others have it thrust upon them."

In 1988, Dr. Howa
Christi Flaker
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up

An fun and interesting look at a 1930s divorce ranch and the 6 week stint that a group shared on the ranch. These ranches (true from history) were a place women could go spend 6 weeks at to get their Nevada citizenship which then allowed them to divorce their husband.

We meet a cast of women but the two main women involved are Nina (on her third trip to the ranch) and Emily. The two pair up and become fast friends. One drives an automobile while the other an airplane denoting
Feb 27, 2021 rated it liked it
I had never heard of the “Reno cure” and was delighted to read a historical fiction story about something I knew nothing about. The concept of dude range sequel getaways for wealthy women to stay in so they could quickly and legally divorce. I found myself struggling to engage and get into this story because the characters all fell kind of flat for me. I liked the general format of the story - and elderly Ward telling a journalist type person talking about his time as a pseudo cowboy in his yout ...more
everything is words - Diane
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction is just quickly becoming a fan fav of mine... Better Luck Next Time taught me again about a time I have never known about. Who knew there was “divorce ranch” located in Reno, Nevada in the 1930’s? Julia Claiborne Johnson builds a slow story about this time and the individuals that run, reside, and visit the fictional(but based on fact) Flying Leap ranch. It is rich with descriptions of etiquette from that time and dialogue over the relationships that were forming. Who isn’t ca ...more
Jun 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
A charming and likable follow up to Be Frank With Me. I loved the setting - a dude ranch in Reno where women went while they awaited divorces. Filled with great characters, nothing too difficult, but richly satisfying.
Kari Ann Sweeney
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to @netgalley and @harperaudio for the early audio copy of BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME by Julia Claiborne Johnson (PUB DATE 1.5.2021)

This book was wholly unique and a breath of fresh air. The story is narrated by Ward, described as "Cary Grant in cowboy boots", as he reflects back on his time working at the Flying Leap, a divorce ranch in Reno during the 1930's. The ranch caters to a cast of independent, eccentric, and conflicted soon-to-be divorced women.

It was a feel-good story full of o
Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 thoughts soon.
In the 1930s, women seeking divorce--no-questions-asked--could come to Reno, Nevada. The only catch was they had to spend six weeks there to become residents. Enter the Flying Leap, a dude ranch for the wealthy that facilitates the divorces by giving them a lovely stay and helping take care of everything. Ward, age 24, spent a year in college before his family lost everything to the Great Depression. Now he's working at the Flying Leap. Handsome and helpful, he's quite adored by the women. Soon, ...more
Firstly, I won the ARC copy of this rollicking comedy on a Goodread's Giveaway from the CustomHouse publishers. Thanks for the opportunity to read this book and give my honest opinion. This was a book that read just like a movie or a great television show. You can feel all the drama unfolding right in front of your eyes and picture the characters and feel right at home. The book starts out at the home of Lydia Hennessey who is hosting the Christmas dinner. I will admit that at first I was getti ...more
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Julia Claiborne Johnson is the author of the bestselling Be Frank with Me, a finalist for the American Bookseller’s Association Best Debut Novel Award. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee before moving to New York City, where she worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines. She now lives in Los Angeles with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.

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