Sunday , February 25 2024
While the plot is not entirely convincing, this novel with a strong spiritual message is entertaining and thought-provoking.

Book Review: ‘The Last Laugh’ by Arjuna Ardagh

Matt Thomson is in such despair that he is contemplating suicide when a waitress is a diner slips him a phone number that leads him to a meeting with a wise old man named Joey. Joey tells Matt that if he will trust him completely he can turn his life around in 10 days. Matt figures he has lost his job, his wife, his kids, and his house, so what does he have to lose?

So for 10 days Joey teaches Matt lessons about empathy, trusting your instincts, discovering who you are, living in the now, and other New Age notions. He even has him stand on a the edge of a cliff blindfolded and hit balls with a bat to teach him to trust his instincts. At the end of the ten days, will Matt get his wife, his kids, his life back? What do you think?


Joey is a fascinating character and the book is full of entertaining people. There are some thought-provoking and useful ideas in the novel, too. But, like most novels based on any spiritual principles, it is often very simplistic.

For instance, at one point when Matt is obsessing about the need for money and  a job, Joey asks him “But what do you need right now? This minute?” and the answer is nothing so the lesson is supposed to be that as long as you are living in the now you don’t need to worry about anything and everything will work out.

Living in the now is not a bad idea but suppose a person is in chronic pain? My answer to that question would have been “for the pain I feel in my legs to go way.” That would not mean I couldn’t be happy even with the pain but it would mean that the answer to what I need is not “nothing.” And what if you are a parent and your child is sick and you don’t have insurance to take them to the doctor? Does living in the moment solve that problem?

Also, many of the good things that happen for Matt happen because Joey steps in and fixes things with his wife, with his boss, and so on. Not because of anything that Matt did.

So the novel definitely left  a lot of questions as to whether the plot could ever really occur. However, the fact that it raised questions is a good thing. Anything that causes us to examiner our beliefs helps expand our understanding if our minds are open.

In the end, it’s a fairly entertaining story with a strong spiritual message which is not entirely convincing but worth examining if you are a person who enjoys exploring spiritual paths.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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One comment

  1. Great review, well done.