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Better Luck Next Time

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  206 reviews
"Do you want to read something funny?  Let’s say, a novel set at a divorce ranch in Reno in the 1930s?  A book with memorably eccentric characters, sparkling dialogue, a satisfying plot twist, and some romance and sex?  A feel-good literary comedy/western?  Here it is, then, the book you've been looking for: Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time."Julie Schumache ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 5th 2021 by Custom House
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
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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
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
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
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
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
Bookloose Ela
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
This book intrigued me as soon as I read the synopsis and I immediately knew I needed to put my hands on it - ASAP. It's for sure a type of story I haven't read before. I didn't know anything about divorce dude/guest ranches in Nevada before this book. Yeah, apparently that was a thing, and was for decades. So this story, alongside being original, was also quite informative for me.

I was so in love with everything - narrator Ward, even more with Nina and Emily and especially their friendship, wit
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
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
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.
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
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
Thanks to LibraryThing for an advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own.

I enjoyed this feel-good entertaining story about wealthy women in the 1930s who stay at a ranch in Reno for six weeks, which qualifies them for residency status and enables them to get a quick divorce. Narrated as a series of often humorous recollections by Ward, one of the young ranch hands, I found myself looking for excuses to read just one more chapter. Memorable characters, clever dialogue, romance, a
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better Luck Next Time is the story of Ward, a make-believe cowboy on a divorce ranch, the Flying Leap, in Reno, Nevada in the 1930s. Back in the day, a woman could live in Reno for 6 weeks and become a resident, therefore, being able to divorce her husband. The ranch caters to every whim of the wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees. Ward becomes friends with two of the divorcees, Nina and Emily and that forever changes his life! Read this delightful, fun read to find out just how Ward's life was changed ...more
Cam Kovach
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fun and sweet read! Set in a Reno Nevada "divorce ranch" in the 1930's, this book throws back to a time when women - no matter their wealth or their circumstances - could not easily get divorces from philandering or otherwise unsuitable husbands. The divorce ranch in laissez-faire Reno allowed a 6-week residency for women who could afford it, after which they were free to file for and receive a divorce in the state of Nevada. The characters who run the ranch, those who populate it, and th ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, audiobooks, 2021
Picture it - Reno, 1938. Twenty-four-year-old Ward works at The Flying Leap, a ranch where wealthy women stay to establish their Nevada residency so they can get a no-questions-asked divorce. Fifty years after leaving, the now-retired doctor is approached by an unnamed interviewer with a photo from the ranch who wants to know the story behind it. The book unfolds through flashbacks as Ward (now Howard) explains what happened over the course of six weeks that summer that changed his life.

Rachel Rooney
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Better Luck Next Time is set at a ranch near Reno, NV, for divorcing women to establish residency and take advantage of Nevada's divorce laws. Ward, a young male employee, because an especial favorite of two female guests and becomes entangled in their lives. The novel is Ward looking back on his life at the behest of an unknown person.

I really enjoyed this book. I was able to get lost in the story and just enjoy it. I predicted a couple of the twists and felt like it lost a little steam when a
Jodie (That Happy Reader)
This book is set in 1938 in Reno, Nevada - a state where women could stay for six weeks and obtain a “no questions asked” divorce which was quite unusual in the day. This book describes the relationships formed at the Flying Leap Dude Ranch which hosted many wealthy women who fled to Reno in order to dissolve their marriages.

Told from the perspective of a retired physician, Ward reflects about his time working at the ranch at the age of 24. He particularly recalls two women Nina, a St. Louis hei
Wild and rollicking - Better Luck Next Time is told through flashbacks as a retired doctor recounts his stint as a ‘cowboy’ (read ‘eye candy’) on a Reno divorce ranch back in the 30s. An unidentified visitor has come to interview him, bringing an old picture of the soon-to-be divorcees and the ranch crew to help jog his memory. And that picture gets the story rolling, a story filled with the same kind of slapstick humor and quirky characters that made Be Frank With Me so entertaining. My one com ...more
Geonn Cannon
Jan 05, 2021 rated it liked it
An okay enough book. I admit I might have let my imagination run away with me and assumed things the author never intended, so I can’t fault it for not following through. It really seemed like it was setting up a relationship between Nina and Emily, but any potential really went absolutely nowhere. I also wonder why in the world the author decided this book set at a place majorly populated by women needed to be told with a male point of view. Overall it’s not a bad book, just not quite what it c ...more
Karen Reed
This is a completely unique, dare I say fun, period piece about women visiting a "divorce ranch" in Reno Nevada in the 1930's. . The narrator telling this story appealed to me as a young Hollywood cowboy, I could almost picture him. I mean really the book makes you want to picture him! The author also did an incredible job creating the two main women in the story. Again, I was able to see them as lead roles playing strong, independent women. The characters are made more enduring with all their f ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I won a copy of this one in a Goodreads giveaway. It's set in 1938 and it's set in a divorce ranch in Reno. Not my cuppa tea - not because of the story, but because of the way that the story is presented. It's one of those formulaic historical novels in which the main character sits you down for a spell and in the most conversational voice possible, attempts to tell you their own history. I didn't like it not because I have something against a formulaic novel - There's definitely a time and a pl ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5/5, I liked the concept and that some of the main characters were mashups of the author's parents, but the story fell a little flat for me. Enjoyable, even funny at times, just a little weak.

But I definitely recommend her first novel, Be Frank With Me! 👍
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
Kim McGee
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reno Nevada was known for one thing in the 30's - quickie divorces. Ward is a good looking, hard working young ranch hand looking to find himself and he finds more than he bargained for at the Flying Leap Ranch. Emily is new to the ranch and struggling so the fearless Nina who is a return customer takes her under her wing. They need a partner in crime for the six weeks at the ranch so they turn to Ward. Together they ponder marriage, divorce, love , sadness and the search to find themselves. Won ...more
Casey Larsen
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ward hasn’t lived in Reno, Nevada for nearly 50 years, but he remembers it like it was yesterday. And how could he not? He spent his time there working on a dude ranch catering to women seeking divorce during a time when divorce was illegal in most states. He was bound to collect some good stories.

One of his better stories involves his escapades with Nina and Emily during their visit at The Flying Leap ranch in 1938. Nina is a regular client of the ranch and is back for her third divorce. An he
Whitney Gaston
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christi Flaker
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads)

An 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 airpla
Dec 13, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. ----

Unfortunately, this book just didn't work for me. I liked past work from this author & had looked forward to this release. This book didn't offer any of the whimsy of the former work, however, & ultimately I just found myself unengaged. It's a missed opportunity, I think.

The idea of the book is really great & has fun written all over it. The manner of execution is where the concept died. I did not care for the device

Phyllis Krall
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Better Luck Next Time takes place on a Dude Ranch in Reno during the Depression in the 1930’s. The Flying Leap is where wealthy women seeking a divorce go to wait the six weeks to establish residency.
The book focuses on love,loss, heartbreak, and unique friendships.

As the story opens, Ward is looking back through the years when he was employed at the Flying Leap. His family had lost everything in the Depression and he was forced to leave college and seek employment. He becomes friendly with two
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, arc
Thank you to Harper Audio for my copy of the Audiobook for Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson in exchange for my honest review.

This is not your typical Historical Fiction and I will say that it is has a slower pace, but it was also an easy read. It is set in the 1930s in Reno, at a divorce ranch where women came to stay at for 6 weeks while they waited for their divorces to go through. It is told from the point of view of Ward, a young man that works as a ranch hand, who is there t
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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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