Book Review

The Laughing Matter of Pain: Cynthia Hilston

Today I have the honour of being part of the publication day for The Laughing Matter of Pain. Before I let you know my thoughts on this book, here is the blurb.


Harry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the Joker in early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels – his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life – he’s found love in Kat, a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?


Amazon US

Amazon UK


The Laughing Matter of Pain is a cautionary coming of age tale of a young man trying to escape the shadow of a much admired older brother. As he falls under the spell of glamourous Prohibition era parties, Harry’s life spirals out of control. However, as the story is told from Harry’s point of view, Cynthia Hilston skilfully weaves her words so that, much as Harry himself, the reader isn’t fully aware of just how bad things are until it is too late.

As Harry hits rock bottom, and the exuberance of his youth is stripped away, an extremely bleak picture of a 1930s jail is painted. Despite their surroundings, the kindness of strangers shines through as the story develops into one of redemption and second chances, and sometimes even third or fourth chances.

The dialect used by the characters was reminiscent of black and white movies and made it so simple to picture Prohibition era America and the lives that people lived during this time. Cynthia’s other novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful has made its way firmly on to my TBR pile, and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future releases.


Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She’s currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.








Many thanks to Cynthia and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the day, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

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