Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Release Day Review: The Secret Ingredient for a Happy Marriage by Shirley Jump

"Beautifully written and unflinching in its portrayal of the complexities of marriage, sisterhood and long-held secrets." -Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

From New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump comes a heartwarming tale about friendship, family, and the unbreakable bond between sisters.


Nora has always been the sister who binds the O'Bannons together. No matter what crisis hits, smart, dependable Nora knows how to fix it. But for Nora, the pressure of perfection is taking its toll.

Nora's marriage is in trouble, and she has been reluctant to worry her sisters with just how dire her situation is. Now though, faced with losing her husband, her home, and the life she's worked so hard to build, Nora can no longer pretend.

As the O'Bannon women rally around her, Nora begins to see that failure is nothing to fear. It's like they say in the bakery: if you want to make something good, you can't be afraid to get messy. When her husband returns, asking Nora to give their family a second chance, Nora must decide if their relationship can be saved-or if it's time to throw out the old recipe and start from scratch.

The Secret Ingredient for a Happy Marriage by Shirley Jump

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret Ingredient for A Happy Marriage is the second book in the O'Bannon Sisters series. I've not read the previous one and the author is new to me too. I don't feel I've missed anything by jumping in straight in here as it works as a standalone.

To outsiders, Nora has it all; A fabulous husband, adorable children, comfortable home and a job working in her family's bakery. However, the reality is far different from her distorted portrayal of her perfect marriage and family.

Communication. When it breaks down, it causes bad feeling because each side doesn't understand what the other is doing, leading to presumptive opinions. Nora and Ben are a fine example of how this impacted their relationship and thankfully, they eventually agree to navigate their way through the self-inflicted issues causing the near breakdown of their marriage. I'm glad the author shares both sides of the dispute. As the narrator, Nora's voice is what we here most and I'm so pleased when the conflict comes to a head, we hear how Ben feels too. It's uncomfortable reading but insightful and realistic. It's so easy to take the side of Nora as that's the voice we hear, so it's refreshing when we hear Ben speak too, to understand the concerns from his perspective. His words are equally damning as Nora becomes painfully aware of her personal shortcomings...yet, despite the harsh words, she's praised for trying to keep their family running as clockwork. The result is sobering as we understand fully what contributed to their relationship crisis. Happily and more importantly, there's love and hope for them as a couple,

This is a solid read with likeable and more importantly relatable characters trying to work through their real-life issues as Ms Jump tackles the difficult subject of addiction sympathetically. She effortlessly draws you into the narrative enabling the reader to feel empathy for all the characters. In addition, a couple of sub-plots that I'm guessing will follow through into future instalments are woven into the narrative and I'm particularly interested in following Maggie's story.

This novel differs from what I'm used to reading, but at the beginning of this year I decided to broaden my reading preferences and this title fits the bill nicely. Lastly, I'm drawn to the lovely cover which compliments the novel beautifully.

***arc generously received courtesy of Forever via NetGalley***

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