Friday, June 12, 2009

Secrets to Happiness - Sarah Dunn

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn, newly released from the Hachette Book Group is the latest book chosen for the Early Bird Blog Tours.

I'm a sucker for cover art and I absolutely loved the cover for Secrets to Happiness. That dog's grin makes me smile!

From the publisher:

"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 comes to Holly for advice about her love life--with Holly's ex! Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish 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. From the author of The Big Love, Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal--and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy."

Usually when I write a review I like to recap the plot in my own words. However this time, I was stymied. From the above description and cover, I was expecting something a little bit lighter and somewhat funny. Truthfully I didn't find it in any way hilarious. It is definitely a modern take on the search for happiness. But I found the search somewhat depressing and desperate. There are many characters and story lines introduced in the first few chapters. Putting the book down and coming back I had to reread to get back up to speed. The cavalier attitude towards sex, drugs and infidelity left me feeling quite sad and dismayed.

"Was it true, Holly found herself wondering, that if you could keep from feeling bad about something bad that you'd done and you never got caught, then it didn't really count?

Although each of the characters had some redeeming qualities I just never really connected or frankly cared about any of them. Their self ruminations fell flat for me.

I found the dialogue Holly has with the Native American vet Two Feathers distasteful as well. During her first personal conversation with him, one of the first things she says is;

"It's very difficult for me, Holly said, you know, being here in the park with you, not to ask if you can do that thing where you walk over dried leaves and twigs and sticks and things without making any sound." An earlier description on page 215 left the same sour taste - "instead of his usual expression - the one that made Holly think of smallpox-laden blankets and wampum trades gone sour..."

I had high hopes with the cover, but I'm sorry to say - this was a miss for me.

For some different opinions check out what my fellow bloggers thought.

Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit
Beth at Beth Fish Reads
Kathy at Bermuda Onion's Weblog
S.Krishna's Books
Sandie at Booksie's Blog
Amber Stults
Wendy's Minding Spot
A Circle of Books
Shelly at Write for a Reader
Reading with Monie
Dar at Peeking Between the Pages
Cindy's Love of Books
Kristi at Books and Needlepoint
Sheri at Bookopolis


Kaye said...

Amazing how cover art can convey one thing and the book is another. This is the way I felt about Girls in Trucks. I loved the cover but the story did not resonate with me at all. The character just went from one drunken drugged haze to another sleeping with every available guy. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. No, every third sentence in a book does NOT need the "f" word. Wow, I feel better now! I'm sorry to hear this wasn't a better read for you though. Sometimes you read a book where you feel your time would have been better spent elsewhere but then when you do get a good one, you really appreciate it. have a great week, Luanne.

Darlene said...

I really did love the cover on this book as well. I didn't mind the book as a whole. I thought there was some language and other stuff that didn't seem to fit the story. The only character I really did like was Holly although I would never live her lifestyle. I think the book may really appeal to the younger crowd. My review is here.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this one didn't work for you, L!

bermudaonion said...

I wasn't crazy about this one either.

Toni said...

I like your review Luanne. It is always good to know why a book did or did not sit well with someone. Glad it was short so you could get it over with.

Kelly said...

I'm sorta glad I decided to pass on this one when Hachette offered it. Their synopsis just didn't do it for me. I'm one of those annoying people who really don't "struggle" to be happy. I just pretty much am, I figure no matter how crappy my day/week/year might be, I'm pretty sure there is a whole bunch of people with worse problems than me, so I should just suck it up and smile.

MonieG said...

I'm sad that the book didn't live up to the fun cover too. I think it would have been a much better story if the extra characters were eliminated and more focus was on Holly.

Cath said...

Wow. Just--wow. I'm so glad I was forewarned.

M. said...

I had this on my 'maybe' list, but I would have stumbled over those conversations with the Native character as well. Have we not come any farther than that?