Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

Opening sentence: “My kid moved out the day she was born.”

In a nutshell, So Lucky is about that familiar phrase: ‘Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about . . .‘ People might seem like they have it all and are ‘so lucky’ but the reality is quite different. (Coincidently, this is also a theme explored in another of my recent reads, Through the Wall, although that put a far more dramatic/thriller spin on things.)

So Lucky has a lot in common with Dawn’s previous novel, The Cows: both have three lead female characters with a lot more to them than meets the eye, all navigating life in this judgemental digital era. Both books have a similar cheeky, knowing, funny tone but I felt So Lucky worked so much harder with plot and character development than its predecessor, which meant I enjoyed it a lot more.

We meet Ruby Blake, Beth and Lauren Pearce. All women told – at various points in the narrative – how lucky they are, despite being in situations that they feel are anything but. Beth owns a wedding planning business and finds herself back at work 4 months after giving birth due to organising the celebrity wedding of the year. Well, an influencer is marrying a very rich, handsome man (who had a stint on Dragon’s Den) so that qualifies as top level celeb these days. Beth is struggling with her sex-less marriage and has a truly fab assistant called Risky who brings many comedic moments. Risky is a representation of every millennial feminist who makes a point of talking openly about sex, spends all their time on Instagram and lives for inspiring quotes, but her openness is a much needed contrast to the issues the other characters have that make them clam up.

Lauren is the aforementioned influencer who we initially get to see (a version of) through her Instagram posts. Beth and Risky get to know her and discover her social-media-ready relationship might not be quite so perfect.

Ruby was my favourite, I always looked forward to her chapters. She has the most character development and a real individual spark to her, this quote sums up her distinct character nicely: “‘Up yours,’ I say, crossing the road. It’s a retro phrase I use a lot. Firm, offensive but not sweary enough for people to ring an alarm.” She has a toddler, Bonnie, and issues with her sense of self due to a condition that means she feels she has to hide her body away. Ironically, she works as a retoucher and this leads to interesting observations and a moral conflict which is nicely explored, “I hate how the male gaze is still more powerful than a woman’s self worth.”

The characters start the novel not knowing each other, then all three women’s lives end up intertwining in a clever, unique way that I didn’t expect. There is also a sub plot exploring how hard and tricky motherhood and parenting can be, which – being a mother – resonated and added extra depth to this read for me.

So Lucky is a funny, warm, super-engaging book that I always looked forward to dipping into. It celebrated female friendship (I’m fully on board with any novel that’s going to do that), while also making good points about how we unconsciously judge others, the power of false perception and – most importantly for me – delivered a set of characters that I ended up caring about – especially Ruby.

/ Published by HarperCollins 31st October 2019

/ 335 pages

/ Rating: 4/5

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