Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
Romance stories in the 2020s depict society as it is in the present, and so boy-meets-girl-and-they-live-happily-ever-after tales are no longer the dominant storylines. With more first marriages failing and the advent of online dating platforms, modern society’s love stories are no longer just the domain of the young.
In Karly Lane’s latest book, For Once in My Life, the main female character, Jenny, is in her fifties with three adult daughters and one grandchild. Her daughters and best friend decide to ‘put her out there’ and have set her up with several dates on the one weekend. After her first less than enjoyable encounter, she wants out, but her daughters are adamant she should fulfill the arrangements they have meticulously put in place. Jenny caves. ‘It was one weekend. Surely, she could do this if it meant never having to go through it all again’ (42). She believes it couldn’t get any worse than the first date.
All these encounters are to take place at the newly renovated hotel in the small country town under the watchful gaze of the town’s inhabitants and the handsome young barman, Nick.
The author, Karly Lane, renowned for her delightful, entertaining, and funny rural romances has used this story to highlight some of the stigmas left over from an earlier time. Her story deals with how society looks at women differently than they do men when it comes to dating someone younger than themselves. This affects a person’s actions and reactions in potential relationships. None of us likes to feel humiliated and often circumstances place us in situations where our actions, at a particular time, we would prefer to keep private. The need to feel accepted is strong in the human race.
While delving into this story, the reader cannot help but reassess their own attitudes to certain situations and question how they would have reacted in the same circumstance. The story is presented from two viewpoints, Jenny’s and Nick’s, and their romantic awakenings provide a warm hearted and sometimes humorous storyline. However, the road to love is rarely smooth and the bumps that threaten to disrupt the ride only add richness and wisdom to this story.
Lane’s latest book has reminiscences of the 1998 movie, You’ve got mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Other issues which surface are trauma, especially after deployment overseas, and the sourcing of food for the hospitality industry. There is much in Lane’s storyline to interest a reader.
Karly Lane is well established as a bestselling author with over 550,000 books sold. Her stories are always easy to read and soon make the reader feel that they have added to their circle of friends as they get to know the characters better as the story unfolds.
As to the title of the book, it has been suggested that it might be connected to Steve Wonder’s For Once in My Life song that not only has the same title but carries a similar message.
For Once in My Life
by Karly Lane
Allen & Unwin