Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor – Review
By Helen Johnston
This isn’t the book I thought it would be, which isn’t necessarily a criticism but it did disappoint me half way through. What I imagined was going to be a bittersweet look at the final months of a woman with a terminal condition, perhaps with some deep and meaningful message, turned out to be something different.
It was enjoyable enough, and touching and funny in places, but this is a lighter read than I expected. The heroine Jennifer Cole is told she has an incurable blood condition and is given three months to live. So far so bleak.
Surprisingly, she decides to carry on as normal, even continuing to work. Her only concession to knowing to that her life will soon be over is to tell certain people what she really thinks of them. She writes three goodbye letters – to her selfish sister, her cheating ex-husband who has re-married, and to her unreliable ex-boyfriend. Then she sits back and waits for the responses.
“A good enough debut”
They are all shocked and saddened to different degrees and keen to make amends before it’s too late. Or so they say.
Meanwhile, Jennifer has sex with a complete stranger in a park. I know fiction requires us to suspend our disbelief, but this event doesn’t seem to fit with the character and ends up feeling gratuitous. Once the book had changed from what I thought it would be, I could see the plot twists a mile off, which made it less of a page-turner and more a case of just reading on until the inevitable happened.
Having said all that, this is a good enough debut novel for former TV show host Melanie Cantor and if you’re looking for a novel to take on holiday then this will be just fine for whiling away a few hours on the sun lounger.
‘Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor’ is published by Bantam Press, £12.99 paperback