Saturday, 29 September 2018

A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston

A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston
Self published in America today, the 29th September 2018.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Windows

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add A Laughing Matter of Pain to your Goodreads

Harry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?

I was attracted to this quirkily titled novel by its unusual cover image. The story is set mainly across the first four decades of the 20th century and is essentially a coming-of-age tale narrated engagingly in the first person by Harry Rechthart. I didn't actually like Harry very much although I did appreciate reading this story. As a young man he has a massive chip on his shoulder caused by his elder brother's apparent success. Harry spends a lot of the book telling us as readers, and most of the other characters, how hard he is trying to be a good person, but repeatedly seeing him choose to whine and drink instead of heeding his own claims did get quite infuriating! He is fond of blaming others for his own mistakes too.

A Laughing Matter Of Pain moves as a fast pace though Harry's life with occasional jumps of several years meaning significant events happen offpage as often as on. Hilston focuses on conversations between her characters so I felt I got to know most of the people fairly well although not in great depth. I would have liked a lot more in the way of historical detail as well. I didn't feel as though I got a strong sense of Prohibition-era America which was a shame as this is such an interesting period. For readers who prefer lighter issues driven fiction, A Laughing Matter Of Pain would be a good choice. The narrative doesn't get too dark, but does generally feel real.

Meet the author

Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah's Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She's currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time - what spare time? - she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Author links: 
Website ~ Goodreads ~ AmazonTwitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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