Reviewed by Tonstant Weader Reviews: Opinionated Book Reviews – Septemeber 23, 2022

Going to Beautiful is a story of loss, mourning, and awakening to a new and completely unimagined life. Jake and his partner Eddie are living the life. Both have ridden the reality-television road to fame and fortune. Eddie in a design competition show, Jake with books and shows featuring stylish and exciting cooking from around the world. But then Eddie dies, a death that could be a murder, suicide, or an accident. The same forces that lifted them up now magnify his grief as he is suspected by some. He’s lost his joy in cooking and is in despair. However, he has tasks to complete, spreading Eddie’s ashes at the places they visited. The last world on the list is beautiful, something Jake thought was descriptive, but his son pointed out it might be a noun, not an adjective. And so it was.

He and his neighbor and friend, Baz, an elegant transwoman who may be seventy-eight on paper but remains young at heart and spirit head out to Beautiful, Saskatchewan. Jake hopes to find answers there and he does, but far more answers than he was looking for.

Going to Beautiful is a new take on an old trope, the displaced urban sophisticates marooned among the salt-of-the-earth farmers. But Jake is no Paris Hilton and Baz is no Eva Gabor. From a broken down car to a missing brother-in-law, events conspire to keep Jake and Baz in Beautiful where they are soon drawn into the fabric of life. Beautiful could be one of those twee villages where everybody is an eccentric, but they face real problems and are united by the anxiety of the last residents of a dying town.

This is not a cute novel, though the description might make it seem so. The problems and mysteries of Beautiful are real. Jake comes to understand Eddie in a deeper way when he sees where he came from and meets his family. There is plenty of joy and kindness in Beautiful, but there is a grim side to surviving on the cold, northern prairie. That is what makes this such a beautiful novel.

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