Genre: Adult Fiction, New York City
Reading Challenges: 25 for 100+ in 2009
Sarah Dunn is a truly talented writer. Her writing is witty, lively, and flows beautifully. However, for me, Secrets to Happiness wasn't the book to showcase that talent. In fairness, let me start off by saying that I am probably outside of the target demographic of this book. I am a fairly conservative, career woman turned stay-at-home mother, who is totally devoted to my husband and children. The characters in this novel would likely describe me as a naive optimist.
The central character of the novel is Holly Frick, a recently divorced writer on the downward slope of her career, who has been anything but lucky in love. Holly lives, works, and plays in New York city. In general, Holly is a bit at a loss as to how to find happiness in her life. It turns out that most of her close friends, including her best friend Amanda, haven't figured that out either; despite appearances to the contrary. Secrets to Happiness presents us with a host of characters, and their search to find fulfillment.
Initially, I really enjoyed this book for the first few chapters in which the author introduced Holly, and some of her history. However, a few pages more had me wondering why Holly would choose to spend time with many of the other characters, especially her best friend Amanda. I found the majority of the characters in this book to be self-centered egoists who treated Holly as a quaint little country girl because she sometimes voiced a moral qualm with regards to the consequences of destructive behavior, like adultery. The character of Amanda particularly had me wanting to hurl the book out of the window. I think it was partly because I was still enjoying the post-reading high from Everyone is Beautiful, and suddenly, here was a character who drugged her infant with Benadryl so that she could enjoy uninterrupted sexual fantasies about a man she met at a park.
I am giving this book two stars because I really mean it when I say that Dunn impressed me with her ability to turn a phrase. As much as I disliked this novel, I still found myself wishing I could write like she does.
I would like to thank Hachette book group for my review copy. It is always a pleasure to be introduced to a talented new writer, and I am hopeful that Dunn will write something in the future that I will find more appealing. However, I am sure that this book will find a grateful audience in many readers out there! That is why I am giving my copy away to one lucky reader.
The giveaway starts now, May 26th and will run through next Wednesday, June 17th. We will use a random number generator to determine the winners at that time and notify them via email. Please provide us with your email as it is the only way we have to get in touch with you! We will also post the winners here on the site. The contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, we are unable to ship to P.O. Boxes.
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