This is Gonna End in Tears

Liza Klaussmann

This is Gonna End in Tears
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This is Gonna End in Tears

Liza Klaussmann

Growing up, it was always the three of them: Miller and Olly and Ash. They stuck together, like they were keeping a secret. They needed each other. As teenagers, they drove to LA, lived in a ramshackle place on the beach in Malibu, set up a record label. They were successful, best friends and Olly and Miller fell in love. Before it fell apart, it was beautiful.

Then Olly stopped looking at Miller the way he used to. Miller spent a night with Ash, which turned into a marriage. And Miller and Ash came back to Wonderland, the tidal island of sugary painted houses they’d run away from. Now Miller’s forty and she feels like she’s disappearing. She wears her tinted sunglasses so often sometimes she forgets the world isn’t green. Ash is having an affair with a helmet-haired tv presenter and Olly’s career is over. Olly doesn’t want to think about what he was going to owe, what any of them owed, to each other. But after everything that has happened, Wonderland is the only place it makes sense for him to go.

Over a long, hot summer of Chardonnay and Chicken, Olly, Miller and Ash try to work out what it is that exists between them. They’re so consumed with their love, losses and longing and the possibility of a redemptive third act, they barely notice what’s going on between Miller’s son, his best friend and the girl who lives next door.

Some summers are spent yearning for something to happen, others are charged with the terrifying, exhilarating, feeling that everything is going to change. Welcome to Wonderland.


This Is Gonna End in Tears is a captivating story about the strength of friendship, trying to forget the past and what happens when the past comes rushing back to you. Reading this was like a psychedelic dream; it burst with colours and flavours so delicious I couldn’t help but absorb every word like honey.

Set in the 1980s American beachside town of Wonderland, with flashbacks to the 1950s, this novel roams through the livesof Miller, Olly and Ash, three inseparable childhood friends who cannot imagine a world where they are not joined at the hip. Flash forward 30 years and Ash and Miller are unhappily married to each other and have vowed never to speak of Olly again. Olly, in the meantime, is a director in Los Angeles, drowning his past with drugs and alcohol. When he is fired by the studio, he returns home seeking inspiration for what he guarantees will be his next big blockbuster: Moby Dick. When the three reunite, new secrets are revealed, love and loyalties are tested, and a sudden truce may have to be called when they realise Miller and Ash’s son may be in some serious trouble with the neighbour next door …

Like Captain Ahab monomaniacally pursuing the white whale, each character longs for something just beyond their reach. Miller refuses to take off her literal green-tinted glasses, aching for a world of joy and paradise so much that she forgets the real world isn’t a fantastical Emerald City. Ash wants to begin a new life with a beautiful TV presenter who does not feel as deeply for him. And Olly endlessly searches for a good enough reason to keep living.

Liza Klaussmann (a novelist and journalist who also happens to be the great-great-great-granddaughter of Herman Melville) has stitched together an enthralling world with dazzling characters who make you laugh, cry and reminisce over childhood memories. Welcome to Wonderland, where our darkest desires are revealed in the sunny, golden afternoons.

Aurelia Orr is a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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