The Sad Truth about Happiness
By Anne Giardini
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780060741761, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 2005
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A beautiful and affecting novel -- bittersweet and comic -- on the elusive nature of happiness
Maggie is in her early thirties, gainfully employed, between relationships, and ready for change -- although not in the ways or to the degree that unfolds in Anne Giardini's The Sad Truth About Happiness.
Maggie's roommate, Rebecca, devises questionnaires for women's magazines, and she is convinced her newest quiz can predict the exact date of death of anyone who answers the questions honestly. When Maggie tries the test, she learns that she is scheduled to die before her next birthday -- the fact that she has answered "No" to the question "Are you happy?" appears to have shaved decades off her life. Only if Maggie can become happy in her three remaining months can she perhaps prevent the prediction from coming true.
With wry comedy, Maggie's life becomes considerably more complicated from that very moment, since her quest for happiness attracts both admirers and challenges. The true test comes when, through a mad tangle of circumstance, Maggie finds herself on the run with her sister Lucy's newborn son. The often unexpected power of friendships and family, the universal pull toward a home, and a more intense relationship with the world all leave Maggie and the reader with a new awareness of the evanescent joys of happiness, which we all long for, but can seldom seek directly or hold for longer than an instant.
“A confident voice and a luminous lyrical prose style.”
“First-time novelist Anne Giardini delivers a powerful story [and] a character for the ages.”
“Giardini deserves applause for her debut effort. She clearly demonstrates a talent for distilling moments that touch the human heart.”
“A fully formed new voice, poignant, funny and acute.”
-Fay Weldon, author of Wicked Women
“A touching read...[that] may remind us of Carol Shields in its sensitive handling of rich characters and domestic detail.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“Charming…a pleasantly entertaining journey.”
“Giardini appreciates the difference between happy enough and deeper satisfaction, and parses these nuances with an appealingly light touch.”
-New York Newsday
“Giardini’s peripatetic style reveals an attractive curiosity about the infinite variety in people’s lives, both happy and sad.”
-Washington Post Book World