Well-known author, Julia Johnson, launches new book

Saturday, December 26, 2020
JULIA CLAIBORNE JOHNSON
Submitted photo

Author and Shelbyville native Julia Claiborne Johnson is about to follow up her 2016 best seller, “Be Frank With Me,” with a more serious—but still witty and charming—novel. The long-time magazine writer’s faithful readers are already synced for the release of “Better Luck Next Time” on Jan. 5.

Johnson’s second book, published by HarperCollins, has already received rave online reviews. One states how the literary work is one to be treasured as it features a story line certain to stay with readers for a long time.

In this new novel, Johnson paints a literary picture of a hot, dry Reno, Nev., summer during which women wait to see whether their luck has run out or is just beginning. The book contains what the writer describes as a “thoughtful” narrator, telling his story through the pages with a mix of joy and melancholy that comes with well, being somewhat advanced in age.

The narrator muses at one point, “When you get to be my age, things that happened 50 years ago start seeming more real to you than what happened yesterday.”

Johnson, who now resides in Los Angeles, Calif., dedicated her new book to her parents. She is the daughter of Dr. Sue Johnson, a retired Shelbyville physician, who by the way will celebrate her 92nd birthday in Birmingham, Ala.. on Jan. 4, and the late Alsey Johnson, who retired as a Shelbyville Central High English teacher.

Julia said recently, “The second one is out Jan. 5, and seems like it might do well. It got a starred review (which is rare!) in “Publishers Weekly,” and made the IndieNext List for next month—the list booksellers nationally vote on, to select the titles they’re most excited about selling.” 

The author notes that locals might really be interested in this novel, especially as the narrator is a retired doctor living in a retirement home in Tennessee. As well, the imaginary town looks a lot like Shelbyville, particularly in the way the nursing home is attached to the hospital, the doctors office is across the street and the mortuary and a grocery store are next door.

By the way, a cemetery is also located on a hill nearby. Seem all familiar to anyone?

One reviewer recently stated: “This brims with the clever banter and farcical situations of a classic Capra film, and is deepened by dramatic scenes and portrayals of the hardworking ranchers. Johnson’s novel soars!”

The writer said readers acquainted with her mom might just sob brokenly by the time they’re finished reading. With a sense of humor like “Dr. Sue’s,” the author, who attended The Webb School in Bell Buckle, says not to worry, the book is mostly giddy, so readers won't have to gird themselves for too traumatic of a reading experience.