A Matter of Happiness

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Published by: ‎ Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: November 8, 2022
ISBN13: 978-1542038072



A cherished heirloom opens up a century of secrets in a bittersweet novel about family, hard truths, and self-discovery by the author of Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish.

Melanie Barnett thinks she has it all together. With an ex-fiancé and a pending promotion at a Kentucky bourbon distillery, Melanie has figured out that love and career don’t mix. Until she makes a discovery while cleaning her Jordan MX car, a scarlet-red symbol of the Jazz Age’s independent women that she inherited from her great-great-great-aunt Violet. Its secret compartment holds Violet’s weathered journal―within it an intriguing message: Take from this story what you will, Melanie, and you can bury the rest. Melanie wonders what more there is to learn from Violet’s past.

In 1921 Violet Bond defers to no one. Hers is a life of adventure in Detroit, the hub of the motorcar boom and the fastest growing city in America. But in an era of speakeasies, financial windfalls, free-spirited friends, and unexpected romance, it’s easy to spin out of control.

Now, as Melanie’s own world takes unexpected turns, her life and Violet’s life intersect. Generations apart, they’re coming into their own and questioning what modern womanhood―and happiness―really means.

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PRAISE FOR A Matter of Happiness

“Whitaker’s tender … historical fiction and … multigenerational dual narrative probes into how women, driven by a thirst for success and independence, have advanced over the last century while exploring what it has cost them to achieve their dreams…. But buried in the back is an explosive secret that will crack open deep issues between mother and daughter…. As [Melanie and her mom] come together through the experience of sharing Violet’s diary, Whitaker brings about a reckoning that is heartfelt and beautiful.” 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution 


“This witty and engaging story is about Melanie, an up-and-coming executive in the whiskey business in Louisville, Kentucky, and her ‘Grape Aunt Violet.’…The plot flows easily, and the characters, both modern and in the 1920s, are interesting people.” Historical Novels Review

“This novel provides glimpses into the growing automobile industry in 1920s Detroit, where Violet lives. We also get to see the growth of the boutique spirits world in twenty-first-century Kentucky as Melanie tries to make a name for herself. Ultimately, A Matter of Happiness is a story about listening to and trusting yourself, while surrounded by family, friends, love and loss. [A]n entertaining historical fiction read.” ―BookTrib

"A Matter of Happiness is a thrill of a ride and a beautiful read. Violet and Melanie are connected across generations by blood, bourbon, cars and a great need for independence. Tori Whitaker unfolds the narrative with a deep sense of history imbuing every sensational page, weaving the women's stories until the inspiring conclusion. A Matter of Happiness is a compelling story of women who understand that we can choose our happiness, and we can choose our lives. A story about strength, fate and choice, Whitaker crafts a riveting read you will not want to put down until the very last page."
Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah

"Tori Whitaker's latest historical novel A MATTER OF HAPPINESS will take you on a wild ride to remember from the modern-day bourbon distilleries of Kentucky to the speakeasies and parties of Detroit in the twenties. With astute attention to historical detail, Whitaker tells the tale of two strong-willed women, Melanie and Violet, determined to make it on their own terms. You'll find yourself rooting for these two young women, connected by a cherished 1923 Jordan MX - as they attempt to navigate modern womanhood and what it really means to be happy.
Nicola Harrison, author of The Show Girl

“Tori Whitaker weaves an inspiring inter-generational story that goes down with the sweet surprising warmth of a “Kentucky hug”―that first sip of bourbon. Secrets unravel, revealing the loving sacrifices made by the women of a family with roots on the Bourbon Trail. Their strength is passed down, woman to woman, only to be more appreciated over time like the best aged spirits. A tale to be savored.” ―Lynn Cullen, national bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and The Sisters of Summit Avenue

“Tori Whitaker’s A Matter of Happiness is an absolute trip back to the Roaring Twenties, so vividly written the reader can see the fringe of the flappers’ dresses, hear the jazz from the speakeasies, and taste the bourbon. A dual timeline novel, both the 1920s and the contemporary stories proceed with delectable suspense and feature strong, independent women characters I adored―and am still thinking about all these days later.” ―Joy Jordan-Lake, author of the bestselling Under a Gilded Moon and A Bend of Light