The Master of Happy Endings


The Master of Happy Endings is a powerful new novel about memory, belonging, helping others, and the vagaries of the human heart. It is also a compelling story about how a man in his late seventies manages to conjure one more great adventure for himself.

Axel Thorstad lives in a shack on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia. Once a popular school teacher and thespian who touched the lives of hundreds of his students, he now lives in retirement and mourns the recent death of his wife.

But even this stoical giant of a 77-year-old finds the isolation too much. He begins to run want ads in newspapers offering his services as a tutor, and meets the indomitable Mrs. Montana. She hires Axel to coach her precocious teenage-TV-actor son Travis for his school exams while he shoots a new episode in Hollywood. Life in L.A. is far removed from his isolated life in rural B.C., and soon Thorstad finds himself caught up in the drama of his young student’s life, and the return of an old flame.

Set amidst the fleshpots, sound-stages and dining rooms of L.A., this engaging novel of lives and loves lost and found also gestures to the courage one needs in the face of the vulnerabilities of older age that all too soon beset.


Jack Hodgins has developed his own style, his one lens, with mythic elements, and he has made an enormous contribution to B.C. fiction in the process. As a trailblazer, he’s in the realm of Bertrand Sinclair, his Nanaimo born contemporary Anne Cameron, or playwright George Ryga. He has dared to be original.

BC Book World

The Master of Happy Endings is a novel of how the past shapes the present and how the present shapes the future, each in their own unexpected ways….Hodgins, a Governor General’s Award winner and a member of the Order of Canada, demonstrates the deft skills readers have come to expect…. The major characters are well-rounded. Thorstad himself is the kind of man a reader might want to spend time with…

National Post

[The Master of Happy Endings] contains strong storytelling and powerful characters. Hodgins’ latest novel is a testament to the notion that the secret to a happy ending may well be not worrying too much. Thorstad is high on life’s rich pageant. His exuberance rubs off on the reader.

Quill and Quire

An irresistible novel about the vagaries of youth, old age, Hollywood, family, and the marvel of keeping going.

Alice Munro

...soundly constructed and beautifully written... This modest Canadian protagonist discovers that some of the most satisfying encounters are found close to home. That goes double for the homegrown talent of Hodgins and his newest literary delight.

The Lethbridge Herald

Hodgins is a master of sweet irony. If the human comedy dictates happy endings, we are rewarded with Axel's circuitous journey from innocence to experience that leaves us instructed in the meaning of life.

The Pacific Rim Review of Books

The Master of Happy Endings is an exuberant novel about the power of narrative to serve as a compass for human odysseys. Hodgins' story is as much about the terrain of the heart and spirit as it is about the physical world and he moves confidently from one to the other, his literary skill in service to his rich imagination.

Jurors’ citation, Victoria Book Prizes

Any new novel from one of Canada's literary icons is eagerly anticipated. His latest, a powerful story about the vagaries of old age, is bound to satisfy Hodgins' many fans. It certainly left a smile on my face.

The Sun Times

About the Author

Jack Hodgins

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Jack Hodgins photo

Jack Hodgins

Jack Hodgins was raised in Merville, on Vancouver Island. He has written seven novels and three short story collections, including Spit Delaney's Island and The Invention of the World. Hodgins’ fiction has won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award. He and his wife Dianne live in Victoria, BC.