Prettier if She Smiled More

Toni Jordan

Prettier if She Smiled More
Hachette Australia
31 January 2024

Prettier if She Smiled More

Toni Jordan

As the eldest child in a single-parent family, Kylie's always had more important things on her mind than smiling for random strangers. Controlling her job, her home, her romantic life and - most importantly - her family takes all her concentration. She's always succeeded, though, because that's just who Kylie is.

When her fiercely independent mother breaks an ankle and needs help, it's up to Kylie, as usual, to fix things. She reluctantly packs her bags and moves in, but back in her childhood home, things start to unravel. Could it be that Kylie's carefully curated life is not so perfect after all?


In a recent interview about writing, Toni Jordan talks about the importance of humour in conversations and within novels. She says it builds resilience and helps with anxiety. I could not agree more. Reading works by Jordan, famous for her light touch, her kindness, and her ability to regale us with the absurdity of life, is a stress reliever. I read her second novel in the Schnabels series, Prettier if She Smiled More, without pause. And yes, I did feel remarkably calm and robust at the end. No more lists for me, I said to myself. Although, I am now waiting patiently for the third novel to arrive. Does that constitute a list?

The story centres on Kylie, a chemist and the eldest daughter in a single parent family, who thrives on organisation (we met her in Dinner with the Schnabels). By controlling the details, Kylie has been able to live a very successful life (on paper), until now. Over one emotional and misadventure-filled week, Kylie must reckon with the fact that not everything can be tidied. Her relationship, her job and her position within her family unravel. It also becomes clear that not everything in her life can be categorised.

It is possible that you will recognise yourself somewhere in Jordan’s wonderful array of characters. You will also recognise the familiar landscape, the family dynamic, the fuss and the personal yearnings that we all hold close to ourselves. Certainly, there is not a woman out there that has not heard the expression, ‘prettier if she smiled more’.

This novel is a sweet, laugh-out-loud treat. A savvy novel that makes a statement while entertaining you. Fans of Liane Moriarty, Maria Semple, and of course Toni Jordan, will delight in it. That Toni Jordan, she knows exactly what she is doing. Lucky us.

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