Monday, May 31, 2021

Review: So Happy Together by Deborah K. Shepherd

Are you the same person you were ten years ago? Fifteen? Twenty? We all change as we experience different things, as life leads us down different paths. But what if you took a look at yourself and the life you were leading and you felt like you'd lost the best part of yourself, the piece that made you the happiest, the you that was most authentic? How do you handle that realization? In Deborah K. Shepherd's novel So Happy Together, main character Caro takes off on a road trip away from the life she's created and her unraveling marriage back towards the man she loved in college and the woman she was then, despite how it all ended. Can Caro recapture that love and the life she once craved? Should she?

It's the 80s. Caro Tanner is a wife and mother of three living a conventional life in Westport, Connecticut with her lawyer husband Jack. She is dissatisfied with her life, mourning the loss of her once promising life as a playwright (she hasn't written anything in years), unhappy in her marriage, and suffocated by the image of the perfect housewife and mother (nose job, dyed hair, PTA, country club, and all) that she has turned into. Once upon a time, Caro was a completely different person. At the University of Arizona in the 60s, Caro was a free wheeling, pot smoking, protest attending, free love practicing, kooky spirited playwright. She was authentic in ways she lost over the intervening 20 years. The morning that she puts her three children on the bus for summer camp, Caro leaves a note for her husband, telling him she needs time away, and she hits the road to find Peter, the man she has always loved, the man who accepted her exactly as she was back in school and who she has convinced herself is her soul mate, the solution to all the discontent in her current life. As she slowly wends her way across the country, memories of that time and the deep friendship and love she had for Peter accompany her, interwoven occasionally with scenes from her life with Jack and of her travels west.

Caro has lost herself, sold out, and she doesn't much like herself as she drives along. Together she and Jack changed from idealistic young protesters to a conventional, establishment couple. Her unhappiness and the ennui in their marriage is palpable but so is her love for their children. At the same time, her idealized return to her past through her memories drives her desire for a new start with Peter. Shepherd captures the 60s time period very well, the atmosphere, the feelings, the rebellion. Her young Caro is naive and damaged, searching for acceptance and love, but she's also talented, smart, and principled. Like Caro, Peter is carrying some pretty heavy baggage, wanting to be someone he's not. He is gifted at playing a part, onstage and off. They care very deeply for each other but sometimes that's not enough. Both characters are well drawn and their story is engaging. Caro and Jack's story is less fleshed out than Caro and Peter's but it does take Caro revisiting her feelings about and life with Peter for her to really see the truth in her everyday life with Jack. The story is definitely engrossing and although the reader understands the truth of the past and the present long before Caro does, they will still turn the pages quickly to find out what happens with Caro and Peter and Jack. This is a novel of second chances, rediscovering the core of who you are, cherishing memories, and moving forward. Caro learns a lot about herself and who she wants to be on her road trip and while the novel ends in the 80s, I'd love to know who Caro is in the 2020s.

For more information about Deborah K. Shepherd and the book, check our her author site, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher She Writes Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.


  1. Thank you so much for this intelligent and insightful review of my book. Interesting to think about who Caro is in the 2020’s. Maybe a sequel someday?

  2. I love a good second chance story! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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