Friday, June 12, 2009

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

Flap copy from hardcover:
"Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her 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."

Though I thought this book would be a fairly typical example of the chick-lit genre, I was pleased to discover it was much edgier and funnier than expected. Holly is not your typical heroine, and can in fact be quite annoying at times. Her interactions with the dog Chester unexpectedly make her much more a character than a characterization, and make this novel stronger. Best friend Amanda is easy to dislike, and though I thought her actions could have been more fully fleshed out while the story developed, at the end I was more satisfied with the outcome than I had anticipated.

This was a good book, well-written, funny, emotionally truthful, and if I had written this review the moment I finished the book, it probably would have received 4 stars. I'm giving it 3.5 now because although I finished the book just a few days ago, I have a hard time calling to mind any specifics about the plot without referring to the text. Since I generally have no problem remembering specifics of books I read months (or even years) ago, I was disappointed that this novel left so little impression despite its positive qualities. A enjoyable but ultimately forgetful read; 3.5 stars.

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