Tall Poppies Review: Human Nature and Morality Are Examined In ‘The Far End of Happy’

Twelve hours. Three women. A standoff that will change each of their lives forever.

Kathryn Craft’s The Far End of Happy tells the story of one day in the life of Veronica “Ronnie” Farnham – freelance journalist, mother to two young boys, and soon-to-be ex-wife of Jeff. The morning Jeff is slated to move out, Ronnie finds the guest room bed where he’s been sleeping already made. When he bombs up the driveway, already drunk, at 8:00 a.m., Ronnie calls the police, setting into motion events that can only culminate in tragedy.

Told in rotating third-person points of view between Ronnie, her mother Beverly, and Jeff’s mother Janet, the events of the story slide seamlessly back and forth between the Farnham family farm, where Jeff is armed with a bottle of whiskey and a shotgun in a standoff with police, and all of the past happenings that brought them to this place, both literally and figuratively, together. As the story unfolds, the women contribute their own memories, secrets, and interpretations of Jeff’s behavior and the tension in the book arises not only from Jeff’s threats to take his life, but the often competing desires of each woman to protect her child/children.

In the end, it matters little what Jeff decides to do. Things in the lives of all of the characters have shifted in irreparable ways as they are forced to confront the hard truth that you can’t take on other’s choices – or pain – no matter how much you might want to save them.

But The Far End of Happy doesn’t stay there. It is just as much a story of resilience, strength, and hope, too.

Kathryn Craft should know: it’s essentially her story.

Though the book is a fictional account, two decades ago, Craft’s husband engaged police in a similar suicide standoff at their family farm. She penned The Far End of Happy from the experience of that dreaded day, often relying on journals her family kept to recreate necessary details.

Don’t let the book’s subject matter deter you: in the hands of a lesser author, this subject could prove maudlin. But in Craft’s capable hands, told through her gorgeous prose, it is haunting and powerful. The Far End of Happy is a deft examination of tough questions, moral ambiguities, and the inherent complexity of human nature, making it an outstanding choice for book clubs everywhere.

The Far End of Happy is now available for purchase. 


Kathryn is the author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she served on the boards of the Philadelphia Writers Conference and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and now volunteers as she can for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She hosts lakeside writing retreats for women in northern New York State, leads Craftwriting workshops, and speaks often about writing. She blogs monthly at Writers in the Storm on “Turning Whine into Gold,” and many of her craft articles are in the archives at The Blood-Red Pencil blog. She lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA.
For more information on the author, visit her website at www.kathryncraft.com

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