Happiest Ever After paperback cover

The Happiest Ever After​ (2024)

Happiest Ever After character

What if you could write your own perfect storyline…?

Polly Potter is surviving, not thriving. She used to love her job – until her mentor died and her new boss decided to make her life hell. She used to love her partner Chris – until he cheated on her, and now she can’t forget. The only place where her life is working is on the pages of the novel she is writing – there she can create a feistier, bolder, more successful version of herself – as the ­fictional Sabrina Anderson.

But what if it was possible to start over again? To leave everything behind, forget all that went before, and live the life you’d always dreamed of?

After a set of unforeseen circumstances, Polly ends up believing she really IS Sabrina, living at the heart of a noisy Italian family restaurant by the sea. Run by Teddy, the son of her new landlady Marielle, it’s a much-loved place, facing threat of closure as a rival restaurant moves in next door. Sabrina can’t remember her life as Polly, but she knows she is living a different life from the one she used to have.

But what if this new life could belong to her after all?

The idea came from just hearing the nursery rhyme ‘Polly Put the Kettle On’ at a time when my brain must have been whirring creatively. I suddenly had a vision of a woman called Polly who was sick of people saying that line to her as a well-worn ‘joke’. Also I hate surprise parties – my idea of hell. Those two ingredients started the cells multiplying.

And as I like to challenge myself to keep it interesting, I wanted to write about a woman who forgets who she really is but is totally convinced she is someone else. It’s been done before, of course, but often not properly because if memory loss is due to brain damage, then a person will never get those memories back. But with psychological trauma – anything goes. I did a lot of research about it so it would be as accurate as I could make it, within the parameters of a fiction book of course – and one does have to suspend a bit of disbelief. This sort of memory loss comes with a lot of depression and distress so I had to just string it out just before I thought all that might set in.

We met a great couple on holiday who always picked the name ‘Team Donk’ when they did a quiz because of their love of donkeys. That spun the whole Billy character. Square was originally called Shitface, which I loved, but I doubted my editor would let me have it. Billy and his crew gave me a lot of fun in this book. And I know I’m not alone in finding scarecrows as weird as clowns. In Worzel Gummidge, his creation ‘Dafthead’ is the stuff of nightmares!

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Praise for The Happiest Ever After

‘Milly Johnson at her warmest, most authentic, best. From the dedication at the start to the acknowledgements at the end, The Happiest Ever After is a true treat of a book and simply not to be missed.’ ​
– My Weekly

‘The Happiest Ever After is pure storytelling magic.’
– The Lancashire Post​

‘The mix of humour and heart-warming moments was just glorious! …It’s absolutely brilliant.’
– bytheletterbookreviews.com

‘Gloriously funny, witty, wise and wonderful, this book is a total joy!’
– Alexandra Potter

‘A delicious warm hug of a book’’​
–  Jill Mansell

‘Gorgeous, heartwarming and moving… so original and brilliantly written in the typically funny and clever Johnson style’
– Lucy Vine

‘Funny and brilliant and gorgeously warm, Milly Johnson always, always delivers’
– Paige Toon

‘‘’Takes you on a classic transformative journey in the most wonderful and original way. What a joy!’’​
– Julietta Henderson

‘An escapist, uplifting read full of heart’
– Libby Page