Secrets to Happiness, by Sarah Dunn (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009)
"Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While Holly's wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman asks Holly for advice about her love life -- with one of Holly's exes!
"Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting thirtyish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog and a good-natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana."
"Do you want to know the secret to a happy marriage?"
"Put your wife on Paxil."
Reasonably entertaining and well-written, but as the story line doesn't really go anywhere, it reads more like someone's journal or a sitcom script than like a proper plot-driven novel. The jacket summary above pretty much summarizes everything that happens, except that Holly's BFF Amanda does eventually do the deed and have an affair with Jack, regrets it and sets him up with Holly to put an extra roadblock between her and temptation ... only to have her realize she loves Jack more than husband Mark after all, and oh well, sorry we dragged Holly into the middle of our embarrassing little affair. Did I mention that Chester, the dog Holly adopts after the original owners couldn't deal with his brain tumor and grim prognosis, makes a full recovery ... only to have their young son recognize the dog in the park, and Holly eventually decide to do the right thing and give him back? Well, that's pretty much all there is here. Fun for an afternoon or so, but not outstanding or particularly memorable.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.