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Review: Secrets to Happiness

April 3, 2009


Holly Frick is a divorced television writer whose career has passed it’s peak.  She’s written a novel, but it sold less than 500 copies.  One of the main characters in her book is based on Alex, an old boyfriend of hers.  Holly attends a baby shower given by her old friend Betsy, and while there, she meets Betsy’s 22 year old brother Lucas and begins an affair with him.  In the meantime, Alex’s current girlfriend reads Holly’s book and recognizes Alex in it and begins an email and phone correspondence with Holly.  Holly believes in God, but doesn’t believe in his inherent goodness, yet always strives to do the morally right thing.

Amanda is Holly’s best friend and she’s married to Mark and has a baby named Jacob.  Amanda begins an affair with Jack and insists that Holly meet him.  Holly dislikes him at first, but when she bumps into him later she begins to change her mind.  When Amanda ends her affair with Jack, she insists that Holly contact him.  Holly does and Jack and Holly begin dating, so Holly ends her affair with Lucas.  Amanda and Jack get back together, so Jack breaks up with Holly.

Early in the book, Holly decides to adopt a dog.  She goes to a shelter and comes home with Chester who has a brain tumor that a vet has agreed to treat for free.  After Chester’s surgery and radiation treatments, Holly and Jack have him at the park and a young boy recognizes Chester as his dog.  This traumatizes the boy, so his mother approaches Holly and asks her to return the dog to their family.

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn has even more story lines than that running through it.  There are a lot of characters in this book, and at times, I had trouble keeping them straight.  This book was just okay to me.  I have a feeling most people will like it more than I did, though.  The plot seemed to resemble that of a soap opera and I found myself wondering what the point was.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2009 8:05 am

    It does sound like a lot to keep straight. I’m still looking forward to reading it for the book tour. Isn’t the cover just precious?

  2. April 3, 2009 8:23 am

    I’m hoping my experience with it is a bit better. I’m hoping to get to it in the next week or so!

  3. April 3, 2009 8:29 am

    The story sounds too complicated. I especially get confused when I cannot keep track of who is going around with whom? I would the picture of the dog on the cover would be almost misleading.

  4. April 3, 2009 8:38 am

    That’s one I debated about getting and then decided not to.

  5. April 3, 2009 9:14 am

    Wow that is ALOT going on in one book, man!

  6. April 3, 2009 9:17 am

    I should be getting this within a week or so, so now I want to read just to see what I think about it. Thanks for the review.

  7. April 3, 2009 9:26 am

    The cover has such promise — who doesn’t want the secret to happiness AND how can anyone resist that adorable dog?!

    Sorry it was not a great read for you. I think I would still like to try it – sometime – but probably won’t go at the top of the ever-growing TBR list.

    Thank you for the honest review.

  8. April 3, 2009 10:08 am

    The cover seems so light and fun. Sorry it didn’t work for you.

  9. April 3, 2009 10:10 am

    the cover is adorable- too bad the content didn’t match. :-/

  10. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 3, 2009 10:29 am

    I was confused just reading your review!

  11. April 3, 2009 10:30 am

    I agree–cute cover, but does sound a bit convoluted. Oh well…maybe some other time I’ll read it.

  12. April 3, 2009 10:47 am

    Hmmmm, I wonder what I’ll think of it. I’m going to read it for the blog tour. I adore the cover though-it’s just too cute.

  13. April 3, 2009 11:10 am

    the cover is really cute but it sounds a little too complicated for me!

  14. April 3, 2009 11:18 am

    A soap opera, eh? I guess I’ll have to take notes when I read it. I just got a copy, this week. I love that cover.

  15. April 3, 2009 11:43 am

    Sounds like it has a lot of plot threads. I don’t always like that either. That cover dog sure is cute though!

  16. April 3, 2009 12:02 pm

    I’m so sorry I haven’t been around your blog for a long time. I haven’t been blogging much myself, but I just wanted to drop by and say hi, wish you a good weekend and a nice Easter (if you celebrate that) and apologize for being scarce.

    I am finishing my Master thesis and this takes up most of my time. Hopefully, by the end of May, I will be able to blog more and participate more around the blogosphere.

    I am still reviewing books from time to time on my blog, but I am not really active.

    I don’t expect you to come running visiting and commenting, I just wanted to let you know that I am very much alive and I miss reading and commenting on your blog very much.

    This is a personal message written to all the blogowner, whose delightful blogs I visit on a regular basis, but it has been copy/pasted. So if you find it on other blogger’s blogs, that is why.

    I look very much forward to be active again – and apologize once again for not being active the past month and not being able to be active for another month or two.


  17. April 3, 2009 12:33 pm

    Did you pick this book up because the cover photo looks a bit like your dog?

  18. April 3, 2009 12:38 pm

    This sounds like a very busy book!

  19. April 3, 2009 2:35 pm

    When a book has so many characters as this one does I often have to keep paper and pencil near by to make a list – just to keep them all straight. Based on the title I thought this would be different. Doesn’t sound like too much happiness going on in these pages.

  20. April 3, 2009 2:38 pm

    Sounds too much like chick-lit for my taste. Thanks, Kath!

  21. Carol permalink
    April 3, 2009 2:45 pm

    The cover is adorable, but it sounds like I’ll skip the book.

  22. April 3, 2009 3:04 pm

    Just from your review, this one sounds a bit too convoluted for me. No denying that the dog is cute, though!

  23. April 3, 2009 5:04 pm

    i couldn’t even follow your review!!! i love a book with multiple story lines…but this is a tad confoosing. 🙂 but the cover is great…and maybe if i had the book in front of me and took notes as i went along, i’d do okay. hahaha

  24. April 3, 2009 7:08 pm

    Whew, I thought it was just me not being able to follow what you writing and at the end realize that the book is just too confusing. Thanks for an honest review of this one because I love that cover and would’ve picked it up based on just that!! And I hate soap operas!!

  25. April 3, 2009 8:46 pm

    Yes, this does sound very complicated and all I could think of while reading your excellent review was – Nuts! Because I have a copy of this that I am meant to read…not so much looking forward to it now.

  26. April 3, 2009 10:09 pm

    I passed on this one, because I didn’t really enjoy her first novel….just okay is a good description. 🙂

  27. April 4, 2009 12:35 am

    I’m reading this soon as well. We’ll see how we match up on this one.

  28. April 4, 2009 11:25 am

    I enjoyed this book more than you did, though I agree there was a lot going on. The whole thing with the dog won me over, I think.

  29. April 4, 2009 4:40 pm

    I’m with you! It doesn’t sound like it really has a point 😦

  30. Bobbie Crawford-McCoy permalink
    April 4, 2009 5:00 pm

    I love the book cover!
    Hmm, I have a review copy of this book too. I wonder if I will like it; multiple story lines can really affect the flow of the story in a negative way…I’m looking forward to reviewing to see if it works or doesn’t work, for me.
    Thanks for the review Kathy! 🙂

  31. April 4, 2009 10:26 pm

    I have not read this, but I love the dog on the cover…..adorable.

  32. April 6, 2009 11:46 pm

    Wow – all those switches between Holly, Jack and Amanda had me confused for a minute there.

    Thanks for stopping by Thingers last week! I’ve got the post up for this week, have you seen the new customizable widgets on LT? ~ Wendi

  33. April 7, 2009 12:44 am

    Not sure if I’d like the book, but I sure do like the cover.

  34. April 16, 2009 2:26 pm

    Love the cover… will have to check it out… Can’t wait read for the tour… and I have made a little something special to giveaway. 🙂 Nice review.. you have been literally devouring books lately. I LOVE IT….

  35. April 23, 2009 2:44 pm

    Sounds like there’s a lot going on in this book. I love the cover.

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