Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh

A Novel

Lynn Freed

Sarah Crichton Books

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*A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice*

From the award-winning author Lynn Freed, who’s been called a “literary star” by The New York Times Book Review, comes a hilarious and brilliant new novel about the riotous, passion-filled adventures of three women who thought they were past their prime.

To escape their griping grown children, husbands and lovers, and an abundance of grandchildren underfoot, three self-proclaimed “old bags,” Dania, Ruth, and Bess, head for a quiet island on the Aegean Sea. They’ll spend a year by the water—watching the sunset, eating grilled fish and fresh olives, sipping ouzo. They deserve it, they say. After all those years, the three women will finally have some peace.

Except that they can’t. For one, Bess, a pampered, once-beautiful inheritress, falls swiftly into an affair with a poetry-writing taxi driver—who has, of course, a territorial wife. And Dania, a therapist, begins to receive an increasing number of cryptically menacing phone calls from a psychotic patient. An ex-lover of Ruth’s shows up unexpectedly, right before one of Bess’s does—and then the women’s children arrive, with their own demanding children in tow. As the island quickly becomes crowded, the women’s serene year in Greece devolves perilously, and uproariously, into something much more complicated.

With the wit of Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different and all the adventure of Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lynn Freed’s The Last Laugh is at once wildly funny and deeply perceptive, an exuberant story of friendship and pleasure, family and love.

EXCERPT

THE LAST LAUGH


WE’D PUT PASSION BEHIND US, we said, I more loudly than the others. Not that men had lost their charm, we said, not really. It was just that the blinders were gone, the sport, the spring and sway of...

Reviews

Praise for The Last Laugh

PRAISE FOR THE LAST LAUGH

“Beautifully paced . . . If on it’s surface The Last Laugh is a warts-and-all repudiation of the late-in-life female empowerment yarn as typified by the movie Enchanted April . . .the gimlet-eyed Freed is intent on something deeper and more unsettling . . . Freed’s candor works to lift the veil off the misperception that life after 60 consists mostly of conversations about sciatica or ceaseless and slightly abject devotion to a tiny, shivery dog.” —Henry Alford, The New York Times Book Review

"Smart and sprightly in style . . . Hilarious . . . a Campari spritzer of a novel: bubbly and colorful, but with a underlying note of bitterness to add satisfying complexity." —Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Fast-moving and laced with salty wit, this is a smart, funny summer read” —People

"Superb . . . Freed nimbly dramatizes the strengths and flaws of the women as they discover freedom from work and family." —San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] perfect summer read for anyone who loved Delia Ephron’s Siracusa or Emma Straub’s The Vacationers. Freed’s narrative style is delightful . . . And the characters are relatable, bickering and compromising and loving each other all the same. Sun-dappled and sea-splashed, this is the best type of escapism.” —Booklist

"[A] slyly delivered version of a novel of women's self-actualization . . . Fraught relationships between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, and men and women are explored and detailed against the backdrop of usually perfect scenery . . . Replete with references to Greek mythology, Freed's modern retelling of a timeless tale of self-fulfillment wanders into surprising territory along the way." —Kirkus

“Drily whimsical.” —Publishers Weekly

"I devoured The Last Laugh in one delightful sitting. With fine style, a true heart, and coruscating wit, Freed simultaneously skewers and celebrates old age, friendship, family, romance, and work, and into the bargain delivers the most brilliant cliché-busting riff ever written." —Ann Patty, author of Living with a Dead Language

“Hilarious and wise, this sublime novel shows us how the familiar is transformed by explosive events, in a world where bonds are deepened and lifelong mistakes are redeemed. The Last Laugh is a delight.” —Maria Flook, author of Mothers and Lovers and the New York Times bestseller Invisible Eden


PRAISE FOR LYNN FREED

“Like any successful star, [Freed] knows her strengths and how to employ them.”
—Claire Messud, The New York Times Book Review

“[Freed] wonderfully carries off that hardest of all literary effects—it feels effortless and therefore absolutely real.” —Elaina Richardson, Elle

“Lynn Freed is a beautiful writer, dead-on brilliant, rich in humor, possessing a dark and comforting wisdom.” —Anne Lamott

About the author

Lynn Freed

Lynn Freed is the author of seven novels, a collection of short stories, and two collections of essays. Her honors include the inaugural Katherine Anne Porter Award for fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two PEN/O. Henry awards, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Born in South Africa, she now lives in Northern California.

Lynn Freed

(c) Mary S. Pitts