Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Secrets to Happiness

Author Holly is divorced from a man she's still in love with. She's currently seeing Lucas who she considers too young to be an actual contender for a relationship and she used to date Spence. Spence is dating out-of-town Cathleen (who calls Holly for advice thanks to Holly's novel) and sleeps occasionally with Crazy Molly. Holly works with Leonard whose career has seen better days and tries to meet men online. Holly's friend Amanda is married to lovely Mark but finds motherhood unsatisfying and is emotionally cheating with Jack. Don't forget about Betsy who is the older sister of Lucas and has been shall we say unlucky in love.

Whew. Yes, it's a confusing story, and yes, I did have to make a diagram of the characters. Secrets to Happiness reminded me of a sitcom, or one of those movies where the action flits from one character to another. A book in this format, in my mind, makes it difficult to feel you're really getting to know any of the characters more than superficially and left me wondering why. Why are there so many people in this book?

Undeniably, the person we get to know best is Holly. I thought Holly was terrific, I empathized with her and loved her sometimes snarky sense of humor. We know Holly has a good heart since she takes a sick dog into her home with hopes to heal him or as least make his life more comfortable. I wanted more of Holly though, I wanted more than what she said, I wanted what was inside her head. Another character I connected with was Betsy. One of her scenes was my most favorite in the book, it was tender and sweet and beautifully written and made the whole book worth reading. (For those who have read this, I'm referring to pages 230-231.)

Secrets to Happiness is like a snapshot in the lives of these people. I was entertained but in the end I wanted more substance.

Many thanks to Hachette Books for providing this review copy.


Cornflower said...

It does sound confusing, but what a great cover!

Ti said...

I agree. I don't like it when too many characters are introduced. Makes it especially hard on the reader when those characters are not fully fleshed out.

bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one who felt that way about this book.

Staci said...

Your wasn't the first voice who felt this way about this book. As for me, I love the cover and that's good enough!!! Thanks for your honest thoughts and your great review!

Ali said...

I opted not to read this one because it seemed a little shallow from the description. Sounds like that was a good call--though a light, entertaining read definitely has its place, it's just not what I've been in the mood for lately. Funny that two of the last three books you've reviewed have had authors as main characters!

Tara said...

Karen, isn't that dog adorable?

Ti, so very true.

Bermudaonion, you are definitely not!

Staci, it just wasn't really for me, not a very fulfilling read.

Ali, you made a good choice! Huh - funny about the author as main characters! I suppose authors write what they know and they are authors!

Angela said...

I like the cover of the book. But I'm not crazy about books that have tons of characters, I feel like I spend so much time keeping track of who everyone is that I miss the actual plot of the book.

Thanks for the review.