13132704Hannah and John Bernal lived happily in their North Santa Monica bungalow with their three-year-old daughter Ellie. The home they have dubbed Casa Sugar.

Hannah, and her TV producer partner and gay best friend Jay, had a great working life.

But then John was struck by a hit-and-run driver on a September morning and everything changed. Widowhood did not suit Hannah, but as she contemplated what lay ahead in her life, sitting in her backyard under the avocado tree, she meets Trish. A departed Trish, who has strange advice when Hannah moans “why?”

Trish replies: “Why not?”

Grieving is more manageable with her “Grief Team” of Jay, Chloe, and Aimee. But no amount of support can change the facts of her new existence: Widowhood, plus a lost job, and financial difficulties. And the unexpected disasters, like the fact that there will be no life insurance payment, as John had forgotten to pay the premium.

And the fact that Ellie preferred her loving, playful, cooking father to what she now has: a sad mother challenged by the new life she has somehow fallen into.

The After Wife: A Novel is a fun romp set on LA’s West Side, showing the reader the coffee shops, yoga studios, and adorable bungalows that feel like places I could call home.

Hannah’s tendency to “see dead people” and share with their loved ones, while annoying to her at times, has turned into something unexpected.

What will Hannah do in order to keep Casa Sugar? How will she move on after the love of her life is gone? Will she even be able to move on? And will she solve the mystery of who killed John?

Narrated in Hannah’s first person, wry voice, this story had me rooting for her and her friends, while enjoying the humor as well as the angst. Even though it was somewhat predictable, I found the happy ending, with its loose ends neatly tied up, very comforting. 4.0 stars.



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