In my mind, Jen Lancaster can do no wrong. I have read each one of her books and have enjoyed each one. Admittedly, some are better than others, but she never disappoints. I love her sense of humor, and I don’t think in all of the books she’s written there hasn’t been a laugh out loud moment. Her latest book, By the Numbers is one of her best works of fiction. She’s at her best when writing about herself, and though I see a bit of her in her characters, in this book are her best characters yet.
Penny is her main character, and she lives in a giant old home, alone, a home that reminds me of so many featured in Lancaster’s work. Lancaster lives in Chicago, and I’m pretty sure the city has been the location of all of her books. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love the city, and I know she does too, she. In her first couple of books, which were hilarious memoirs about life in the city, leaving the corporate world, and her many pets, she lived in the city. After the success of her first books, she and her husband were able to move to the north shore. There, in Lake Forest is where Penny lives. In a home she had her husband fixed up, where they raised their three children. She now lives in this home alone, filled with memories.
It’s there that her older daughter wants to have her wedding. After her divorce, and the kids had grown up and moved out, she had planned on putting the house on the market. Her daughter insisted on having her wedding there though, so Penny postponed selling the house. This change of plans brings everyone back home, including her ex husband.
The story’s ending was surprising, and really really sweet. I feel like Lancaster has found a good voice in Penny, not in some of the younger characters that have appeared in her books. Penny’s daughters are the usual age of her characters, or so it seems. I think she needs to allow her characters to age, as she does, there’s a sincerity in these characters, and authenticity. I’m looking forward to her next memoir – although there’s no news of that yet!