My fellow book blogger Julie at Booking Mama gets a lot of books in the mail. Wow. I read through her Mailbox Monday post this week and scanned the list of books she received this week, and saw Secrets to Happiness, by Sarah Dunn. I read Dunn's The Big Love shortly after I launched this blog in 2006 (click here to see the review) and I remember liking her clever writing. Here's what Amazon has to say about Secrets to Happiness:
Holly Frick is smart and sassy, loyal and dedicated. All the qualities a woman could want in a girlfriend, but not the ones that seem to resonate with men, if her roster of failed relationships is any indicator. There’s her ex-husband, Alex, with whom she’s still in love; her ex-boyfriend, Spence, a womanizing creep whom Holly scathingly immortalized in her first novel; and Lucas, a 22-year-old boy-toy who, for all his playful sexuality, ultimately makes Holly feel like a cradle-robbing matron. But then she meets Jack, an opinionated Buddhist who is having an affair with her married best friend; and even though Holly takes an immediate dislike to him, she has to admit there’s something undeniable lurking just beneath the surface. 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.
Although it looks like we're safely in chick lit territory, I had this to say about her first book: "Sarah Dunn is too talented, too offbeat, and too funny to be lumped in with the rest of the writers who churn out generic chick lit fare… I can't wait for her next book."
Kathy at BermudaOnion's Weblog didn't love Secrets to Happiness – she thought it was confusing and too much of a soap opera.
Keep This On The DL blog liked the book a lot. Here's what she said:
As I wrote the above paragraph it sounds an awful lot like chick-lit. Which is weird because it didn’t read like a chick lit book at all.
Secrets to Happiness is a highly character driven book…. Dunn’s writing style is catching. I know that’s a generic term, but really. It’s like you’re reading along and then all the sudden she hits you with one of those yes-it’s-just-like-that-even-though-I-never-thought-of-it-like-that-before zingers.
Example: “It was like the time her sister suggested she read Emily Dickinson to the tune of Gilligan’s Island. Once certain thoughts got into your head, you couldn’t get rid of them.”
“He had reached the point in the evening where he was regretting that he had not bothered to commit her name to memory, right about the time she rested her hand on his upper thigh.” …
I really loved this book because the writing and characters are so real. The only thing is, as soon as I closed it yesterday I found myself wondering, Was that just 277 pages of nothing happening? After thinking about it today, I’ve come to two conclusions 1) yes, nothing happened and 2) it didn’t really matter. The pace of the story was good and never felt like it was lacking.
On to the list it goes.