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A 1990s Historical Fiction of Love, Loss, and Healing - an Editorial Review of "Goode Luck"

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Editorial Review:

Set in 1992, Goode Luck by Charlotte Tressler tells a story of love, loss, and healing. Hank Goode is past his prime and lonely as he lives day to day in the same routine. His wife, Betty, stricken with Alzheimer's, moved to a facility three years ago and Hank spends his day doing mundane chores to maintain their home and visiting her. Betty’s condition has progressed and she no longer recognizes Hank leaving Hank lonely and in agony at the loss of his wife. Hank’s world is rearranged when he meets Helen at his vet’s office and she invites him to spend time with a group of friends about Hank’s age. Hank must come to terms with what it means to love and let go of his wife and find joy in his own life again. At the same time, devastating secrets are revealed and Hank will need to find out the truth and mend his relationship with his son. Starting a new life is hard and his love for Betty is vast making a change in his routine and life even harder. Goode Luck is a beautiful story that will pull at readers’ heartstrings right from the beginning.

He saw Betty’s fingers twitch again. “I know you’re in there, Betty. Why can’t you come back to me? This was supposed to be our best time, taking trips, going to the pictures, babysitting grandkids. But you’re here and I’m alone and I miss you.” He pressed his forehead against the heels of his hands. His elbows dug into his thighs.”

The writing in Goode Luck is well done and flows nicely. It is easy to follow and the author does a great job creating empathy within the readers. Readers will easily find themselves commiserating with Hank and relating to his situation and other characters in the books. The writing is done in a way that makes the characters extremely likable and relatable. This works nicely because Goode Luck is a very character-driven novel and the characters, particularly Hank, are well-developed. Hank has plenty of internal and external conflicts concerning how to care for his wife, his relationship with his son, and his feelings about Helen and moving on. He is a complex character but one that readers will understand. Goode Luck is highly character driven without a lot of fast-paced action. This may cause the overall pacing of the story to be on the slower side for many readers. Readers who appreciate deep character development will have no problem staying engaged throughout the entire novel.

Hank fell forward and collapsed on the bed, certain now Ruth’s assertion about that night in 1951 was true. It sickened him to think that, however briefly, the effects of the alcohol, the stress of the diagnosis, and faulty connections in Betty’s mind had breached the subconscious barrier she must have worked so relentlessly to maintain in order to keep the memory contained. After years of festering like an abscess, the recollection had burst, causing widespread contamination.”

Another element of this book that many readers will enjoy is the animals that are included in the book. Hank is a former agriculture teacher and has a farm of his own. Helen owns a veterinary clinic. The two bond over animals and animals are present throughout the book. The author writes about the characters’ relationships with animals in a way that suggests that she understands the healing power of animals, the positive effects animals can have on one’s life, and the behavior of a variety of animals. Animal lovers will appreciate this book.

They gathered nuts until it grew too dark to see. Hank remained distant, caught up in the revelation he’d had the night before and, now, the history buried under the spruce tree. He knew he should tell Helen everything, straight through, but he needed time, and a clear head, to sort it out. He sent her home with nothing but a grocery bag full of pecans, grateful she hadn’t pressed him for more than he was able to give.”

Goode Luck is an interesting book as far as genres go. While it is technically set in the past making it historical fiction, it does not feel or read like a typical historical fiction. With the setting in the recent past, there was not a lot of research that needed to go into the era and while the author represented the nineties and the memories of previous decades well, the story felt as if it could very easily be written and told in the present day. This might be a turn-off for traditional historical fiction fans but literary fiction and romance fans will appreciate Goode Luck.

Locking his troubles in a wall safe was no good. That’s exactly what Betty had done with her trauma, and it had gnawed its way through her other memories and destroyed her.”

The target audience for Goode Luck is those that enjoy romance and emotional stories. Even readers who do not generally read historical fiction will find this book enjoyable. Even though it is set in the 1990s, it feels as if it could easily be set in the present day as well. At just over four hundred pages, more casual or inexperienced readers may find Goode Luck to be a bit intimidating. However, the readability of the writing will make it easy for these readers if they decide to read Goode Luck.

He spotted Helen’s issue on page one, and laughed at the quotation marks she’d carefully placed in black ink around the first lines of dialog. He flipped through the pages and marveled at her dedication, imagining her propped up in bed with reading glasses and a pen, marking the book from beginning to end, making it whole.”

Goode Luck blends beautiful and deep character development with writing that portrays emotions in a way that readers will feel engaged with the story and attached to the characters. The focus on a character-driven plot can bring the story to a slower pace for many but for those willing to push through the slower sections, they will be rewarded with a both heartbreaking and endearing story full of love, healing, forgiveness, and redemption.


“Goode Luck” by Charlotte Tressler receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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