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BOOK REVIEW: HRT: Husband Replacement Therapy by Kathy Lette

| 26 July 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: HRT: Husband Replacement Therapy by Kathy Lette

Vintage Australia
April 2020
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Fiction / Modern & Contemporary Fiction

65% Rocking

Kathy Lette may be in her sixties but she knows a lot about girl talk. The Australian author first came to fame as the co-author of the book, Puberty Blues about her youth spent hanging out with boys on the beach. Several decades on, and she is still writing strong female characters and drawing inspiration from her life, as shown in HRT: Husband Replacement Therapy.

Once upon a time there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person…That’s me, by the way. I’m going to tell you a story about three months that upended my life. And you are not going to like me. You may even hate me – honestly, I hated myself at times. You’re going to think I’m a conniving, duplicitous, selfish monster. You’re going to think I’m the worst sister, mother, daughter, wife and friend in the whole wide world.

The book is based on a woman named Ruby, the youngest of three adult sisters. She has always been the peacemaker in the family and the easy-going one. When she turns 50, she is delivered a terminal cancer diagnosis. This acts as the catalyst to make Ruby consider whether you should age quietly or go out with a bang. No surprises that the character chooses the latter option.

A fifty-year-old has-been hack on the local rag. Could have, would have, should have. Well, no more! This is my season of “Yes”. From now on, I’m going to eat carbs, I’m going to eat salt, I’m going to drink martinis. Today is the first day of the rest of my hedonistic life. I want people to say, “She died with her eyelashes on in her battle with Kev, that hairy aggressive pancreatic tumour dude.”
I was talking such shit I could have qualified as a lifesaver at a sewage plant. But a little lie like this wasn’t a huge sin, was it?…But it would be worth it if I could get my sisters aboard that cruise and patch things up between us.

Ruby organises a cruise for herself and her two sisters. It winds up being one for cougars and cubs, which provides the perfect vehicle for some hijinks and hilarity. Lette is the queen of quips and cheeky one-liners. You could imagine many of these jokes being delivered by the flame-haired Lette in person with more than a twinkle in her eye.

‘D’you know what? It’s my birthday and I’ll implode if I want to. Actually it feels pretty damn good. One of my greatest regrets, apart from not being Nora Ephron, is that I’ve never s… s… said what I really think. Nope. Not to anybody, really.’
‘Why not buy a vineyard, Ruby, and cut out the middleman?’ a high-pitched voice heckled from the crowd.

This novel is one that should appeal to fans of Marian Keyes’ works. It is a modern piece of chick lit that will appeal in the current climate. It won’t change your life or the world, but there’s no denying that it succeeds in offering a breezy piece of sunny escapism.

Lette has said in previous interviews that she likes to write stories about what she wishes had existed as she was experiencing different life events. She also takes pride in writing the kinds of characters who speak as women do when men aren’t around. She is right on both counts. Readers who are after some light relief as they negotiate a mid-life divorce would enjoy this book about ageing outrageously. Lette knows how to write about friendship and the sisterhood, but be warned that there are some profanities used here. This is not for the faint-hearted.

I continued to meet my sisters for meals and cocktails each day. They took my new blissful state as evidence that the cruise was doing me good. It was clearly doing them good. Amber had taken to slobbing around the cabin in her PJs, watching rom-coms, only emerging occasionally to eat her way through the dessert menu…
I occasionally glimpsed Emerald around the ship, swinging an inflatable penis over her head at a pool party as she danced with some muscled stud whose budgie-smuggled bulge was severely testing the limits of lycra, happily chasing a terrified member of the Sonic Groove Duo around his turntable, or licking whipped cream off a cub’s nipple piercing at the R-rated comedy game show.

HRT is a light book that would have made a good holiday read if we could all get out and do so, and recline in the sun. While we stare down the possibilities of more lockdowns, this is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in some holiday romances courtesy of Lette. HRT is ultimately a colourful and fun romp, and a handbook in how to grow old disgracefully.

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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