Review: The Penultimate Chance Saloon

By: Norm Goldman
Author: Simon Brett

ISBN: 1592641628


The following review of the ARC copy of the book was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures. CLICK TO VIEW Norm Goldman's Reviews

What do you do when you are sixty years of age, and after 40 years of marriage your wife dumps you for another man, and to add insult to injury, informs you that their sex life was a bore and you are shallow!

Bill Stratton is the center of Simon Brett's hilarious novel The Penultimate Chance Saloon and the driving force of the narrative.

Our principal protagonist is a television newsreader whose claim to fame was when he ended his broadcasts he would introduce his trademark quips “and by way of contrast (BWOC)," wherein he would recite funny stories gleaned from the international media. An example of one of these snippets: “a dentist in Tasmania has written his autobiography under the title 'A Bridge Too Far.' Incidentally, each of the novel's chapters is prefaced with one of these supposedly true tidbits.

Stratton struggles to make sense of his relationships with women.

After his divorce he embarks on several one night stands with women he really has very little feelings for other than sexual encounters. Puzzling over the mechanics of lust, he rationalizes that after all, he was faithful to his ex-wife, and he missed out on making love to the many women he lusted for prior to his marriage- he should have sowed his wild oats.

When challenged by his good friend Ginnie, who is appalled at his behavior, and asserts that sex must mean something to him and not just passionless promiscuity, his reply is, “what's wrong with promiscuity?"

Career wise, Stratton becomes very successful, as his agent, Sal Juster, negotiates a lucrative contract with a small publisher that compiles into a small book the best of the 'by way of contrast' sign-off stories. The book becomes a best-seller leading to speaking engagements and all kinds of other business opportunities that enhance Stratton's self-confidence and negate his wife's assessment that he is shallow.

Brett is a talented writer with enormous wit, as he skillfully explores with brutal realism the world of the middle-aged jilted husband, who is the last to know that his marriage is not working. Although Stratton concurs that there were differences, he strongly believed that it was these differences that made their marriage strong. However, such was not the opinion of his wife, Andrea, who since the second week of their honeymoon realized that the marriage was doomed to failure, although she did hang in for forty years. It comes as a shocking revelation to him when all of his friends inform him that they knew he and his wife were not meant for each other.

The Penultimate Chance Saloon is an intoxicating mix of humor with philosophical musings pertaining such topics as friendship, love, middle ageFree Web Content, relationships and mortality- a page turner that will keep you coming back for more.

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