Secrets to Happiness
By Sarah Dunn
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316013581, 288pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
Sarah Dunn has moved from Los Angeles to New York five times, and from New York back to Los Angeles four times, which means she is happily back in New York, where she lives with her husband, Peter Stevenson, and their son, Harry. Her first novel, The Big Love, has been translated into 23 languages.
"I love this book. Sarah Dunn is very funny, that's the first thing to say. But she is also deep, interesting and subtle. Her characters could be my friends and yet they utterly surprise me. She is so smart about life and society and the complex and contradictory ways our hearts behave. "Oh that is so true." As I read Secrets to Happiness, I found myself thinking that again and again and again."
-Delia Ephron, author of Hanging Up and co-writer of You've Got Mail
"Secrets to Happiness is a fun, insightful portrait of the urban professional woman, and mercifully devoid of shoe shopping scenes. Sarah Dunn is a terrifically talented writer with a brilliant sense of comic timing."
"A smart, heartwarmingly funny story about modern love in the city. Secrets to Happiness is brimming with Sarah Dunn's vivid characters and engaging voice and will linger long after you've finished the last page. I love this book!"
"Sarah Dunn achieves what so many authors set out to do but so few manage: she captures the Zeitgeist. If you can imagine a cross between Candace Bushnell and Edith Wharton, that is Sarah Dunn."
-Toby Young, author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
"Sharp-witted Dunn follows her debut (The Big Love, 2004) with a ... tale simultaneously elevated by its snappy humor and tinged by some reflective shading.... Deft repartee and happy endings all around ... in this smart chick-lit tale with dark undertones."
"Dunn charts several New Yorkers' lives in this snappy novel..... the energetic and witty prose speeds along the narrative. It's smarter than the usual single-in-the-city fare, and funnier, too."
"Holly Frick is smart and sassy, loyal and dedicated.... Dunn displays a rapier wit; a perfectly nuanced gift for savvy, sophisticated dialogue; and an endearing moral compass, which she uses to great advantage as she blithely navigates the fraught and fatuous world of trendy New York's treacherous dating scene."
"[A] savory treat...packed with dogs, divorce, and dizzying dysfunction."
"Secrets to Happiness ... makes for good, sharp fun."
"[T]he hapless protagonist of this topical novel is such a clever observer of modern life, offering a wealth of Exacto-sharp theories that echo sentiments we may feel but would hesitate to express.... Charming and approaching Tina-Fey funny, Dunn, whose first novel was The Big Love (no connection to the HBO series), combines crackling dialogue and absurdly real-feeling scenarios to create a big-city smart, yet universally appealing, little gem." (3 ¿ stars)
"Secrets to Happiness is smart, bitingly funny, laced with sitcom-sharp dialogue and bittersweet. Far from a confectionary tale, it reads more like a spiritual journey, one that follows Holly and a cast of supporting characters as they try to turn their lives around.... But since this is not a chick-lit book, a guy is not the answer here. For Holly and her supporting cast, the secret to happiness is embracing the fact that, as one character states, it's O.K. to live an ordinary life. This means accepting a life they would have otherwise shunned."
-The New York Observer
"Ms. Dunn shuttles her characters around New York with deft precision, weaving their lives together seamlessly."
-The Wall Street Journal
"Sarah Dunn is a wise and brilliant writer who doesn't sacrifice emotional complexity for low humor--she gives you both."
"Unlike chick lit, chick TV and chick movies, Secrets to Happiness is actually funny.... In the end, what makes Dunn's novel such a pleasure to read is the very thing that keeps it from being a breathless page-turner: Holly's singular spirituality. She may be as baffled as everyone else about how to achieve happiness, but she also knows that happiness isn't all that it's cracked up to be. In a world -- fictional and non- -- where doing a good thing gets you accused of having a messiah complex, and doing whatever you want is justified as following your path, Holly never stops trying to figure out where her duty lies. Underneath it all -- the sex, the shopping, the city -- she's an old-fashioned heroine. Also funny."
-New York Times Book Review