Read The Last Laugh: A Novel by Lynn Freed Online


A witty new novel about three self-proclaimed “old bags” who run off to a Greek islandSince their children left home, Ruth, Dania, and Bess have grown used to living wonderfully free lives. Only now they’re beset by children again—this time, their grandchildren. In order to escape, they decide to run away to Greece together for a year.At first, settled on a glorious islandA witty new novel about three self-proclaimed “old bags” who run off to a Greek islandSince their children left home, Ruth, Dania, and Bess have grown used to living wonderfully free lives. Only now they’re beset by children again—this time, their grandchildren. In order to escape, they decide to run away to Greece together for a year.At first, settled on a glorious island, barefoot and contented, they think they’ve rediscovered the wheel. But then things begin to go awry. Dionysus, a local poet, takes up with Bess, at least until his wife gets wind of things. Dania, a therapist, is being stalked by one of her patients. And Ruth’s ex-lover turns up out of the blue, closely followed by the man who lost Bess her fortune. It doesn’t help when the children and grandchildren also start turning up whenever they feel like it. As Bess writes in one of Ruth’s weekly “Granny à Go Go” columns, this is not an Enchanted April sort of year.Lynn Freed’s previous novels have received rave reviews everywhere from The New York Times Book Review (“Makes us laugh while packing, finally, a punch”), to the Los Angeles Times Book Review (“Deeply absorbing and ambitious . . . Astonishingly vivid”). In The Last Laugh she returns with a beautifully written and funny novel about money, sex, friendship, and the pleasures and perils of children....

Title : The Last Laugh: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374286651
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Last Laugh: A Novel Reviews

  • Sasha
    2019-01-18 10:02

    I thought this would be a cute book about old ladies escaping to Greece, and it was. Except they weren't cute, they were mostly horrible or boring. And I love horrible people, don't get me wrong, but there was nothing to redeem them - they weren't particularly funny or clever (one was proud to be stupid), or insightful. There were some nice lines from the narrator, who was the least terrible of them all, about how the goals of romance and relationships evolve away from the idealistic heart-eyes views in youth, but the rest was only mildly interesting. Their kids are all plain old awful and shrill, and I didn't even know why I was reading this anymore - especially when a dramatic thing happened and everybody's reaction to it made so sense. Losing-faith-in-humanity level of nonsense. So, I guess read something else for an escape/schadenfreude read. -I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own :)-

  • Peebee
    2019-01-08 17:05

    I liked the premise of this book -- older women getting away from their families to hang out on a Greek island -- thinking they're a role model for how I want to be in my advanced age. But the execution is simply dreadful -- none of these women are people I would want to emulate in any way. It's a short book, but even in a limited number of pages, the book managed to go completely off the rails near the end. There's homophobia, cultural insensitivity, and an adoption scenario which really caused me to lose it, and those are not even the main plot points, which are most callous and insensitive. I'm not sure this book really has any redeeming qualities, unfortunately.

  • Cindy
    2018-12-25 13:47

    Three older women escape to Greece for a year to take a break from husbands, older children and grandchildren. A year????!!! What could have been a funny interesting story totally fell flat for me. The women were unlikable, silly, and just plain weird. When I saw a list of all the characters involved on the first page of the novel I knew it was trouble. Not my cup of tea but I would love to go to Greece! This was a Goodreads win.

  • Donna Hines
    2019-01-21 11:04

    This truly had so much potential yet it fell flat and right from the start.There was no build up, no excitement, nothing to capture the readers imagination or thought process.It was simply a much of stories thrown together about different characters who truly were not colorful, alive, or vibrant. In fact the characters were quite depressing having noted they hope to have 10 good years left (this at age 69).For me you are only as old as you feel and age is simply a mere number. To prove my point I tried Crossfit this past year ( expensive yes, worth it yes!) to prove a point that yes 40+ crowd can hang with the younger ones.So anyhow, I digress, back to the point here:The idea that a bunch of old hags go on a year long trip to Greece for an island getaway with friends leaving their past behind including their children sounded like a win. However, it was anything but funny as the title suggested and I literally almost gave it a DNF but hurried through it and skimmed it just to complete the book review.Now I enjoyed the author's viewpoints on her regrets: Not getting plastic surgery, being lonely, no romance, being fat, offering up time and excess applause for minor accomplishments. The honesty portrayed in some small sections was good, " People are always coming looking and finding nothing because nothing is staying the same." Oh and this one," If a man says leave it to me" this man would be basically a bulls eye for having a relationship.I'd love to escape to an island and believe me as one character suggested," Take it from me: If you want to get away from husbands and children get away with a man. That's romantic. And it much more fun." Of course, these women all have issues that are addressed along the way. Some with regrets, some with rich ungrateful kids, some wishing they weren't now grandparents. However, in the end life always seems to go full circle and you always end up where you need to be. To have someone to come home too, confide it, ask how your day was ...ahhh that's a relationship?Well , many of these women in the end did just fine and there lives were full even without the romance and or passion for the opposite sex.Marriage is often more than just the joining of two families and two people . Miss Ruthi and Finn may know something about this after all, as marriage can incorporate two people finding one another before their lives naturally come to run it's natural course.My only regret is that I wish I could've rated this higher but it just wasn't there but I so wish it was as the idea was fantastic but the plot, characters, and of course the ending left nothing to be desired.

  • Carol Dumas
    2019-01-22 17:43

    I had mixed feelings about this book. I remember reading some of the comments before I picked it up and one reader noted she didn't like the main characters, the "grammies" who have taken a house in Greece. I remember thinking you don't have to like the characters to like a book, but after finishing this, I agree with that reader! The grammies are awful; they are privileged, annoying and they don't really like each other all that much. They don't seem to like or understand their children, who are ungrateful young adults. No character has any redeeming quality. Why do I want to spend an evening reading this? But I plugged away. Everyone is messed up but not in a way that evokes empathy on the part of the reader or even interest. It was also difficult to figure everyone out and past references to their spouses, marriages and children, thank goodness for the characters cast in the beginning, but it made the story more confusing and I ended not really knowing these women at all. I guess I was hoping for a Golden Girls type of adventure, a Shirley Valentine or Enchanted April, with some mystery tossed in, but this was disappointing. I gave it 3 stars as it is well-written. I think this would work well as a movie. The cheating husband who dies choking on marshmallows as his wife watches him die, now that is just made for cinema.

  • Margaret
    2019-01-07 09:56

    Three women in their late 60's spend a year on a Greek Island. However, they keep receiving unexpected visits from former lovers, children, and grandchildren.

  • Lorri Steinbacher
    2018-12-31 14:54

    Don't read this is you want to fall in love (or even like) with characters, because you will not really like any of these people. What this book does do is acknowledge that not all women are interested into transitioning from parenting into doting grandparentage or that not all women turn into the grandmothers that their children seem to want. For an author to say here are these women, who just happen to be mothers and grandmothers, trying to live their lives as they chose without bowing to what society or their children think they should be doing, is a pretty powerful statement, I think. If we don't like them it may be because they aren't conforming to what we think they should be . If Bess wants to spend all her money on caftans and ill-advised lovers, who's to say she shouldn't? If Ruth finds that she doesn't exactly like her own daughter, that's honest. I probably draw the line at Dania's pushing her blackmailer to her death, but only probably.For people looking for a short read who doesn't mind unlikable characters.

  • Noelle
    2018-12-28 11:02

    Way too many characters for such a short book (less than 200 pages). I should've realized this at the beginning when there was a "who's who" list. And out of all those characters - hardly any were likable! None were well developed. Had the book been any longer, I wouldn't have finished it. :-/

  • Heidi
    2019-01-16 12:59

    found nothing about which to laugh in this book. it is choppy and difficult to follow. the characters are unlikable and shallow, and the story is just blah.

  • Julie Nortillo
    2019-01-16 18:03

    I expected a much funnier entertaining book and was greatly disappointed. Reading about a year in Greece was amazing and I cannot wait to go. The characters were slightly amusing but there was nothing earth shattering or "can't put down-able" about this book unfortunately. Waste of time. Maybe 1-2 stars would be more apropos??

  • Kristen Shupe
    2019-01-17 09:49

    Looks like I'll have the last laugh and stop reading this book. I made it 3/4 of the way through when I decided enough was enough. I expected a humor-filled book about three older ladies enjoying a year long holiday in beautiful Greece. What I got instead was trudging through the depressing lives of three unlikeable characters living in a nondescript setting while dealing with their family, lovers and servants all of which they didn't care for and neither did I. I had a hard time following the supporting characters but good or bad, there was a description of all of them prefacing the book. That should've been my first warning. I can count the books I've not finished on one hand. It is rare. But this earned it.

  • Donnacorrigan
    2018-12-22 11:51

    Could hardly get through 35 pages. Just annoying characters and writing.

  • Shari Alvarez
    2019-01-05 15:39

    not funnyAfter reading 25 percent and still thinking that this is stupid I decided to give up. The book starts with a few pages of the cast of characters, never a good sign if you can't keep track of who's who naturally. And the situations they found themselves in were not funny, or even interesting.

  • Fran
    2018-12-22 16:03

    I don't understand why this book had so many bad reviews. While it isn't a "wow" book, it certainly didn't deserve many of the one star ratings. True, there was a big cast but they all had a role in the story.The book was actually the musings of a 70-year-old who, along with her friends, dispells the image of nurturing grandmothers intent on spoiling their grandchildren and who are no longer interested in romance. To the older women in the book, I raise my glass!

  • Heather
    2019-01-19 10:06

    Received an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.This book is hard to pin down for judgment. My true rating would be a 3.5 out of 5 because some things worked really well and others did not, but I suspect it's partially my fault and not that of the book. The premise of this book hooked me from the start: a group of older women leave their assorted children and grandchildren escape to Greece for a year, setting up strict boundaries with each other and their families which are immediately challenged or all-out crumble. Drama ensues. This story really made me consider if there is anyone I could live with in Greece for a year, and I'm fairly certain the answer is no. In the end, this was a valuable perspective for me to read and I'm not sure if my failure to connect with the characters is their fault because we don't have a lot in common.What I really enjoyed was how Freed crafted the family relationships. Ruth, the narrator, has a dysfunctional relationship with her daughter and can never seem to avoid conflict with her, not that either of them necessarily want to avoid it. Dania likes her daughter but often feels - and is - taken advantage of by her. Bess has never settled down and had a string of lovers. Her children are strong personalities, though completely opposite, and are quite judgmental of her choices. All three women make excellent observations about what is expected of grandmothers which had never occurred to me, a childless millennial, and I think a book from their perspectives is important.What did not work for me was how little the motivations of the core three were fleshed out. Other than why they fled to Greece, I couldn't get a good grasp on why they made these choices. As old and new lovers come in and out of the story, I never got a sense of what Ruth and Bess were feeling or why they were allowing them to stay, encouraging them, tolerating them or dismissing them. As Dania deals with an increasingly erratic therapy patient stalking her, everyone treated it breezily until they didn't and I was never clear on what Dania was thinking, further hindered by the fact that she was the only character with no first-person voice throughout the book (Bess writes a couple of entries for Ruth's column about their adventures).Ruth's musings become increasingly annoyed and I kept wondering whose idea was this? Why did they think it would work? It became clear to me early on that they were going to drive each other crazy, how could they not see this? Ruth seems to come to this not-so-startling realization almost halfway through the book when she says, "As it was, we'd all been so full of hope--stupid, thoughtless hope--so pleased with ourselves for our escape that we hadn't considered anything like this." By the end, I was thoroughly sick of all of them, which may have been intentional because that's how they all felt about each other after the year in Greece.Overall, Freed's writing is strong and I want to pick up more of her work, but the characters, while interesting, were not fully realized.

  • Thomas Cooney
    2019-01-14 11:45

    A charming twilight novel that may be more for female readers than male (ducking for cover). Ruth Frank, the protagonist from two of Freed's most loved novels—"Home Ground" and, her masterpiece, "The Bungalow"—is front and center again. Now, on the cusp of seventy, she's off to Greece with two lifelong friends who are also on the same doorstep of the same age. Though the women want little more than fresh Greek air, fresh Greek food, and refreshed friendships, it's soon obvious that the often stale items—children, lovers, and demons—are intent on visiting the island as well. The malaprops delivered by the Israeli therapist are alone worth the price of admission. And if that doesn't do it for you, Freed's piercing take on the state of society will: (her bedevilment at the way Americans constantly say "I love you" at the end of every phone call with a friend or family member; her fury that no one dies anymore in America, they just "pass" as if that makes it any less real or painful; and especially her laser sharp attack on Americans' near-maniacal obsession with their children who often run every household from the moment they come home swaddled from the hospital to the time they consider putting away childish things at the age of 30).The beginning of the book includes a cast of characters and one is advised to study this well at the beginning as there is a lot of mention of characters off-stage and can lead to some confusion. An overall winning novel.

  • Alice
    2019-01-10 10:42

    Maybe you have to be of a "certain age" to appreciate this... Perhaps younger readers don't expect or aren't comfortable with seniors who have sex, act silly, are selfish, drink to excess or want to just have a good time without being beholden to or responsible for children or grandchildren. Not sure, but this woman "of a certain age" found this book entertaining and at times hilarious. It reminded me of the farce "Noises Off," a play whose characters keep switching lovers and popping in and out of scenes. In this book characters pop in and out of the Greek island on which three older women have deposited themselves, lovers switch lovers and then switch back again, cultural types are stereotypically exaggerated (Dino's wife is too broadly drawn to be anything but an exaggeration), children are pains in the neck, the three friends bicker and back up and then bicker again, and on and on. The word mangling of Dania (an Israeli woman) was perfectly done and had me laughing throughout. Don't take this book seriously; don't look for "pc'ness". Yes, the characters are annoying, spoiled and selfish. Who hasn't met people (of any age!) who are that way? I liked it! Just read it for a good laugh.

  • Pam Parker
    2019-01-10 10:50

    I wanted to love this book -- the premise was captivating -- 3 women, approaching their 70th birthdays -- decide to take off from their "normal" lives and spend a year living together on a Greek isle. What's not to love? The women. I don't have to love every character, but the 3 main ones, as well as a majority of the lesser characters, had very few redeeming qualities. I needed something/someone I could believe in and that person was hard to find -- possibly, possibly, in a brief appearance by the narrator's granddaughter, there was hope. So, you might ask, why am I giving it a 3 star and not lower? Because, the writing is great, and at times, some of the observations of the narrator are brilliant.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-25 15:40

    I liked the concept very much, liked some of the characters a little. I'm open to the fact that they weren't going to be lovable, but they also weren't very compelling. Overall, it felt a little jumbled. Seems like so much more could have been done with it. Again, I adored the concept and synopsis. *I should note, I received a copy through a Goodreads giveaway. Honestly if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I felt sort of obligated, and hopeful it would be a satisfying ending. No.

  • Susan
    2019-01-02 13:05

    The book's premise was inspirational but a warning emerges in the plot and follow-through - Be careful what you wish for. The book included some excellent observations, but the characters were often unlikable, aimless, entitled and irresponsible. This reader can't help imagine that real-life roommates would be sure to have worse flaws. The plot often meandered for no good reason. And finally, the focus on aging was dreary though I'm sure there are many elderly women in search of purpose and something to do "next" in life.

  • Patricia Geller
    2019-01-06 13:48

    This is an uneven novel about three women in their 60's who move to Greece for a year. It is confusing to keep track of all the players, their relationships, lovers, children, etc but it also included some prose - articles written for a publication- by one of the three, that I really enjoyed and one I will actually make a copy of before returning the book to the library. More like a 3 star with some great parts.

  • Jean
    2018-12-30 13:59

    High expectations. Big disappointment. I started getting concerned at the very beginning with the two page listing of characters. Really. Still, the idea of three older women leaving their troubles behind and heading to Greece for a year really intrigued me. I found the first couple chapters bland. I read almost the whole book. But threw it down before the end because, to be honest with you, I just did not care about any of them.

  • LInda L
    2018-12-29 11:55

    The premise of this book was funnier than the book itself. There were WAY too many characters and not many of them improved on the story. I admired the 3 who set out on this adventure, but had serious doubts as to how it would work out. OK sometimes, sometimes not so much. In my opinion the psychotherapist could have stood some therapy/medication herself. The other 2 made some bad choices in men. But -- haven't we all??!!!!

  • Laurie
    2018-12-30 14:41

    3 older women (with enough money) rent a hilltop home on a Greek island 'to get away from their lives'. Well, good for them. Can't sympathize with the 'problems' of 3 wealthy women dashing off, but still have tenuous holds on their lives back home. There is a death/murder? toward the end but I didn't get that far and I'm sure it all worked out well for our adventurers. What was the Last Laugh? That you spent your time reading this book.;-)

  • Cynthia
    2019-01-10 14:44

    I gave it a star for the beautiful scenery and for being more original than the story of a young man's coming of age. But there wasn't much to hold on to; much to like otherwise. The characters were one-dimensional and the relationships all left me wondering why they liked/disliked each other. The end was sudden and simple as if the writer decided she had written enough pages and could be done with it.

  • June
    2018-12-31 16:47

    Greek isles and Aegean Sea lured me to the tales of “old bags”, and memoirs of life lived to the overripe - perspective of one (of three), who’s more sane and also a writer. Too many points (age, relationship, family, life’s elusiveness, joyful sacrifice...) hanging there, fail to weave into a worthwhile (multi purpose? Nice try, not even single use) net. Lukewarm funny with light laughter, ends with blissful comfort.To me, Bess stands out.

  • Christy
    2018-12-31 11:07

    If I didn't have a stack of other books to get to I would have finished this, but it didn't seem to be going anywhere interesting. Maybe I'm of the wrong generation, social circle, or something, but there was nothing remotely relatable or engaging to me. I picked it because I heard it was funny, but it was definitely not my sense of humor.

  • Nelda Brangwin
    2019-01-13 13:39

    I guess I was expecting a mature version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but the only connection between the two is the setting in Greece. I thought I’d have a lot in common with the three friends in their 70’s who come to Greece for an extended holiday, but I connected with none of them or their families.

  • Aleksandra Danilovic
    2019-01-02 15:40

    I wanted to like this book. I have spent quite a bit of time in Greece and was feeling a bit “homesick”. I thought I would enjoy it, I was wrong. It played heavily on some stereotypes and I found the grannies uninteresting. I was expecting to be entertained by witty women of age but was sadly disappointed.

  • Renee
    2019-01-14 16:51

    Odd little book! Quite a struggle to keep the myriad names straight although a cast of characters list in the front of the novel helped, I just grew weary of flipping back and forth. I didn’t really empathize with anyone in the novel, given the extreme brevity of the book that’s not too surprising? The author did reinforce my bucket list desire to vacation in the Greek Isles!