REVIEW: Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 31st, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, HJ Recommends, Review, Women's Fic - Chick-lit / 8 comments


In Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins, Dr. Larkby “Lark” Smith’s plan since childhood has been to excel in the oncology field. And now, as a medical resident, she should be well on her way to fulfilling that dream. Instead, she’s shipped off to the ER department with her superior saying it’s due to her being “too emotional”, something Lark is wholly aware of, thank you very much. But she accepts the new challenge anyway. And she’s determined to hone her skills so she can find her way back to oncology someday.

She stuck out her hand. “You have yourself a girlfriend, Dr. Satan.”
He didn’t blink. Guess he knew his nickname.
“I don’t want a girlfriend. Just show up and be pleasant.”

When world-renowned surgeon Dr. Lorenzo Santini, aka Dr. Satan, offers to put in a good word for Lark with the higher ups–if she’ll agree to be his fake date at a few family events over the summer–she takes the chance. But as the weeks progress, she learns that the changes in her life might not have been the step backward she originally thought and that she’s on the right path after all. Now if only Lark can figure out what’s going on with her parents, as her mom is staying in Lark’s landlady Joy’s house temporarily, then things would be close enough to perfect.

“Well,” Joy said, “you can stay here as long as you want, Ellie. And I won’t say a word to anyone, hand to God, okay? You’re my friend now, and your secrets are safe with me.”
Fresh tears flooded Ellie’s eyes. “Thank you, Joy,” she whispered. “I can’t tell you how much that means.”

Ellie thought her biggest worry this summer would be if her art gallery sold enough of her paintings to remain afloat financially. She never expected her nearly forty-year marriage to Gerald to be on the outs. With a heavy heart, Ellie asks Joy if she has room for her for a while as she sorts through her thoughts. Joy is thankfully more than happy to give her a temporary home and, truth be told, is excited to have a new friend after a recent devastating loss. Ellie, Joy, and Lark might seem like an odd pairing to share a picturesque property on Cape Cod for the summer, but the camaraderie and support they share is real–and the perfect antidote for their individual crises.

Robert shook his head. “Love is so fragile,” he said. “It cracks a thousand times throughout the years. But what I’ve found, Ellie, is that if you glue it back together, it gets stronger. More durable if less shiny, shall we say. And you and Gerald have had a very shiny marriage.”

You can count on Kristan Higgins for a well-rounded story with myriad emotions–including huge laughs and many tears. LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE showcased her storytelling abilities in all its shining glory and will be sure to hook readers immediately.

‘You couldn’t replace a perfect love story.’

CW:View Spoiler »

Kristan Higgins’ emotive writing always draws me back, novel after novel. And LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE was another one of her women’s fiction stories that captured my heart with its depth of emotion and characters you’ll love. This was told from the POVs of three women at quite different stages in their lives: Lark (early thirties), Ellie (early sixties), and Joy (late sixties), with Lark being the overall main POV we followed. Set in gorgeous Cape Cod again with previous cast making appearances (this is a standalone, though), there were some very heavy subjects the ladies were coping with. But it was honestly lovely to see how they interacted and how much they boosted each other through it all. That feeling of love and friendship made all the difference for each of them. And I couldn’t have enjoyed the trio more.

I’ll leave readers to piece together Lark’s backstory on their own and how it relates to another important person she meets while fake dating Dr. Lorenzo Santini, aka Dr. Satan. Lark’s kind nature will likely make it easy for readers to adore her. Yes, she was very empathic and emotional–described by some coworkers as the human equivalent of a golden retriever. (lol) But I was struck by how Lark kept her sunshine-y outlook, doting thoughtfully on patients and loved ones alike after having a devastating loss in her mid-twenties. She was still grappling with her grief. And I think it was the huge shift of being moved from oncology to the ER that started her healing process, with meeting Dr. Satan’s family being the finishing touch on Lark’s full journey to relearn herself as well as determining what she wanted out of her life.

Lark’s mother, Ellie, was also going through a tough situation with her thirty-eight-year marriage teetering on shaky ground. Again, I don’t want to spoil the whys or hows about it but suffice to say she had some soul searching to do in order to figure out how she needed her relationship with husband Gerald to look going forward. And honestly, I think Joy, Lark’s eccentric landlady, had a big hand in Ellie’s healing. Joy was kind of outrageous (in the best ways), but she had the biggest, most tender of hearts. They hit it off quickly when Joy offered up her guest bedroom to Ellie. And, thanks to that friendship, both women learned a whole lot about themselves, what it means to be a true, supportive friend, and that they were still in their prime with a whole lot of living left to do.

QOTD: One extremely memorable (hilarious) scene took place at a Renaissance fair. Have you ever been to one?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: May 28th, 2024 | Berkley |

From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and deeply moving novel about the unexpected rewards that come from life’s detours.

Lark Smith has always had a plan for her life: find a fantastic guy, create a marriage as blissful as her parents’, pop out a couple of kids and build a rewarding career as an oncologist.

Things aren’t going so well.

For one, the guy didn’t work out. Theoretically, she’d love to find someone else, but it hasn’t happened. Two, she’s just been transferred out of oncology for being too emotional. (Is it her fault she’s a weeper?) Three, her parents just split up.

Deviating from the plan was…well, not in the plan. A potential solution comes from the foul-tempered and renowned surgeon Lorenzo Santini (aka Dr. Satan). He needs a date this summer for his sister’s wedding. His ancient Noni wants to see him settled. In exchange, he could make a few introductions and maybe get Lark back into the field of her choice.

As a sucker for old people and fake relationships, Lark agrees. Teeny problem—she instantly falls for his big, warm family. Especially his estranged brother.

Meanwhile, Lark’s mom has moved in with Lark’s flamboyant landlady, Joy, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. The three women have a long summer and a big beautiful house on the ocean to figure out what’s next…and quite possibly learn that the best things in life aren’t planned at all.



8 Responses to “REVIEW: Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins”

  1. Banana cake

    Looking forward to reading this. I’m on the waiting list at the library.

  2. psu1493

    I have been to a Renaissance fair once and would love to do so again. Sounds like a good story.

  3. erahime

    I really liked reading this lovely review, Team HJ. And I hadn’t attended a Renaissance fair before, but if I did in the future I would appreciate it.

  4. Glenda M

    Thanks so much for your review! To answer the QOD, I have, but it’s been years since I attended a Renaissance Fair

  5. Amy R

    QOTD: One extremely memorable (hilarious) scene took place at a Renaissance fair. Have you ever been to one? No
    Thanks for the review.