Prettier If She Smiled More by Toni Jordan, Review: Comedic mayhem

Prettier If She Smiled More is Toni Jordan’s engaging follow-up to her wonderful 2022 family drama, Dinner With The Schnabels. Read my full review.

Prettier If She Smiled More Synopsis

Prettier If She Smiled More Review - Toni Jordan

One perfect life. One disastrous week.

As the eldest child in a single-parent family, Kylie’s always had more important things on her mind than smiling for random strangers. Controlling her job, her home, her romantic life and – most importantly – her family takes all her concentration. She’s always succeeded, though, because that’s just who Kylie is.

When her fiercely independent mother breaks an ankle and needs help, it’s up to Kylie, as usual, to fix things. She reluctantly packs her bags and moves in, but back in her childhood home, things start to unravel. Could it be that Kylie’s carefully curated life is not so perfect after all?

Prettier if She Smiled More will make you laugh and make you cry. Is it ever too late to start over?

(Hachette Australia, March 2023)

Genre: Family Drama, Humour

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Book Review

Toni Jordan is one of my favourite authors – one of the few that never fails to elicit a laugh-out-loud moment from me. Prettier If She Smiled More was no exception to this rule, but I was left waiting a little longer for that moment than usual.

This novel’s title signals just one of the deeper societal issues tackled in this continuation of the Schnabel family’s story. This time the focus is on ever-reliable and organised eldest child Kylie, as she navigates her Week of Three Disasters. Readers also touched with the ‘dependable’ brush will readily identify with Kylie’s myriad frustrations, and potentially reflect on the observation that this character can often be her own worst enemy. But readers of the same generation or older than character Kylie (40s) will likely not be surprised by this story arc.

Prettier If She Smiled More has a relatively straightforward plot that explores both wounds and blind spots we can all in some way relate to. For me, it lacked the level of twist and surprise I have come to expect from Jordan. However, her trademark rapid-fire cutting dialogue and comedic farce shone bright in this novel’s latter half. Wonderfully flamboyant and loose-lipped matriarch Gloria is once again at the centre of some magic moments of mayhem which prove the catalyst for Kylie’s long overdue midlife awakening.

Prettier If She Smiled More is another warmly engaging and entertaining read from one of the best comedy writers I know.

My Rating: Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5 — Overall 3.75

Get your copy of Prettier If She Smiled More from:

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More Prettier If She Smiled More reviews

“A smart, sassy coming of second age novel, irresistible in its wit and uproarious in its humour.”– BetterReading

“Comedy, that comes across well on the page, is no easy feat, yet Toni Jordan makes it look effortless. Prettier if She Smiled More is just as funny as Dinner with the Schnabels, yet possibly a bit more cutting and on point.” — TheresaSmithWrites

“There’s a lot to love about this book. Jordan’s writing is again gentle, clever, familiar and addictive in the way it lures readers into Kylie’s world.” —

About the Author, Toni Jordan

Toni Jordan has worked as a molecular biologist, quality control chemist, TAB operator and door-to-door aluminium siding salesperson. She is the author of six novels including the international bestseller Addition, which was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, Nine Days, which was awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards and was named in Kirkus Review’s top 10 Historical Novels of 2013, and Our Tiny, Useless Hearts, which was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Toni has been published widely in newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physiology and a PhD in Creative Arts. Toni lives in Melbourne.

Read our reviews of these other Toni Jordan novels:

* My receiving a copy of Prettier If She Smiled More from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.