#194 ~ Secrets of Happiness

Cover of Secrets of Happiness

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

I had fair warning.  When  I entered the contest to win  a copy of this book on Beth Fish Reads, Beth said that she could not finish the book.  Had I not entered Beth’s contest, won it, and then received The Art of Racing in the Rain that same week, I may never have been inspired to how the first annual Dog Days of Summer week.  I have no regrets, but I did not like this book.

Susan Dunn‘s second novel tells the story of 35-year-old Holly Frick, a seemingly typical New Yorker.  She was recently divorced from her husband and she was still in love with him.  Holly is the main character, but there are numerous other characters given the spotlight throughout the novel – most of whom for no better reason than to show every other selfish, depressed person in New York City can find love and happiness but her.  With so many different characters, I would have thought I would have clicked with at least one of them, but did not.  The closest I came was cheering Holly on at first after learning of her casual and very sexual relationship with a 22-year-old.  That just wasn’t enough to go on for me.

There is a dog in this book, but he is more of a decoration than a central part of the book.  Holly, on the spur of the moment, adopts a dog.  He has brain cancer and she takes a risk on him.  This act, which is described in after the fact, humanizes Holly more than anything else.  Had this story been more prominent and not bogged down by the other characters, I would have enjoyed this novel much more.  I was disappointed by that because it really didn’t match the adorable cover. (I know, I know, never judge a book by it’s cover – and that rule goes both ways).

Secrets of Happiness did not make me happy.  I had no patience for these characters who kept making the same mistakes only to wonder why their lives aren’t happier and more fulfilling.  I was so irritated that even the humor didn’t work for me.  I would not have finished it had it not been one of my Dog Days of Summer books.  In defense of this novel, however, I didn’t enjoy the few episodes of “Sex in the City” I have watched.  I think this book might appeal more to those who did.

lh dds 1 - button sizeThis was my least favorite book for the Dog Days of Summer, but others rate it higher than I do.  Why don’t you check out their reviews?

Medieval Bookworm
S. Krishna’s Books
Every Day I Write the Book
Booking Mama
Savvy Verse & Wit


To buy this novel, click Secrets to Happiness.

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  • At 2009.08.26 09:06, Susan at Carolina Gal's Literary Cafe said:

    sorry you did not like the book. I too buy books based on the art work of the book. Sometimes it makes it for me and other times not.

    • At 2009.08.26 09:23, Elizabeth Spann Craig said:

      Thanks for the heads-up. I think I’ll pass on this one (I never like the “Pretty People With Problems” books!) 🙂

      Mystery Writing is Murder

      • At 2009.08.26 12:10, Kathy said:

        I wasn’t crazy about this one either. There were too many characters and most of them were so shallow that I found it irritating.

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        • At 2009.08.26 13:57, Jen Forbus said:

          Wow. Maybe the dog should have had a more prominent role. So, do the characters discover their secrets to happiness? Is that the general theme?

          • At 2009.08.26 21:22, Veens said:

            Guess I won’t be really crazy about this one either!

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            • At 2009.08.27 07:23, Meghan said:

              Sorry you didn’t like this one. I thought it was illustrating how people always mess up in the same ways, so I can see how that would be frustrating. And there were definitely too many characters. Overall it would have been a better book if it had focused more on Holly.

              • At 2009.08.27 08:47, Beth F said:

                Sorry! But you did have fair warning. But guess what? I absolutely loved Sex and the City! Go figure…

                • At 2009.08.27 19:24, Jennifer said:

                  Jen, I don’t think they ever did figure out the Secrets of Happiness and that might have just hit the nail on the head.

                  Meghan, I’m glad that you liked it more. I just don’t think I was in the book’s intended audience or something.

                  Beth, shoot! You disproved my entire theory! 🙂

                  (Required, will not be published)

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