Author: Rachael Johns
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Publication Date: October 21, 2019
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher via NetGalley
RRP: $32.99

I have long been a fan of Rachael Johns and eagerly await all of her releases. I could not wait for the release so raced off to NetGalley and downloaded it. I read the book almost straightaway but then allowed life to get in the way, and now it’s release day so I really best get onto writing the review.

Rachael Johns writes fascinating, strong female characters and Just One Wish brings together three such women in the same family. Three generations of very different women that you can’t help but fall in love with, even when you can’t understand them.

Alice Abbott is a celebrated and well known feminist and scientist, she trailblazed many important changes for women and single mothers as she raised her daughter but she is also Gralice, beloved grandmother of Ged. These two are strong career driven women who know you can’t always have it all so sacrifices will have to be made. Ged is competing for a promotion when we meet her.

Sappho is the woman between these two generations and completely different; her unconventional upbringing set her on a path to find what she felt she missed. She married young and embraced the arts of ‘new domesticity’. Her discovery of social media led her to become @thehappyhappyhousewife on Instagram and become quite the influencer, with so big a following she needs to hire an assistant.

A lot of the contrast between Alice and Sappho is that Alice broke out of conventional female roles and Sappho embraced them. The pair are often questioned about this because they are both quite well known and I loved Alice’s answer (para-phrased) – It’s all about a woman having a choice, and if that’s her choice then that’s what matters.

It was a bit of a bone of contention between them because Sappho always felt that Alice wanted more for her, as well as feeling that she was missing out by not having the standard nuclear family.

We come in as Alice turns 80, and at her birthday dinner she unveils the plan for some quality time with her daughter and granddaughter…. on an Elvis cruise. If I remember correctly, I believe that Rachael Johns actually took an Elvis cruise in the name of research so I’m sure her details are pretty accurate; it would be a little much for me I think.

Alice was certainly thorough and she know how to make sure her guests accompanied her. Ged was lured with the promise of interviews to begin work on the biography of Alice she had always wanted to write, and Sappho was a huge Elvis fan.

Just One Wish takes us on a journey through some major crossroads for these strong, and strong willed, women. there is love, lust, heartbreak, secrets, betrayals and some rather juicy twists.

I engaged with these characters early on and they were all quite sympathetic. There were questionable behaviours and questionable decisions but I found them all to be relatable and understandable so there was never a case of hating on characters because of the decisions that they made. I did find that I could predict a lot of what was going on, but there were some major twists at the end that I did not see coming.

Johns has explored major life issues that affect many of us at some point with her characteristic insight and empathy. Ged, Alice and Sappho face life-altering situations with, where possible and for the most part, the support of a strong, loving, a little unconventional family.

Everything comes at a cost and Just One Wish explores the sacrifices that we have to make to get where we want to be. Johns also explores what happens if we are left wondering if perhaps we sacrificed too much.

I loved this book and I loved the characters. Some of the situations were very new to me and that added a layer of interest to an already engaging read.

Nest Parenting, along with new domesticity, was a new concept to me and neither of these concepts are ones that I could see me ever embracing. Domesticity, of any description, is something that I can’t seem to find the time for but Nest Parenting was a fascinating idea, though not one I think I could ever live. I must say that I can see the merits for children but it would be a special type of parents that could make this work. Thank you for exploring this, it was certainly food for thought.

Just One Wish is an engaging and emotional read that will make you think, and it will make you feel. There were laughs along with the tears and maybe even a couple of terribly Elvis renditions (in my head anyhow).

Rachael Johns can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

Just One Wish was read as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019, but I’m still not sure what number… I will check it one day.

I would definitely recommend Just One Wish.