The Sad Truth about Happiness

2.95 avg rating
( 428 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780007192861: The Sad Truth about Happiness

A bittersweet, comic novel from a warm new voice in fiction. Maggie is thirty-two-years-old, single, solvent, the middle child of eccentric parents. Maggie accepts her roommate Rebecca's invitation to complete a magazine quiz that Rebecca, a freelance journalist, has designed, a quiz that predicts that Maggie has only three months more to live. Her answer to one of the questions: 'Are you happy?' is 'Not completely', and this response shaves decades off her life. Maggie is distracted in her quest to achieve her own measure of happiness by Lucy, her stormy younger sister, who's just returned from Rome, pregnant and unmarried, by Janet, her self-absorbed older sister, who has found contentment in a single daily pill, and by the sudden and surprising admiration of three -- or possibly four -- very different men. Maggie rescues a homeless girl she finds on the street, and soon after she slips away with Lucy's newborn baby. She is aided and abetted in her flight with baby Philip by a succession of women, who speed her, like the heroine on an old-fashioned quest, on her journey. Are any of these the route to happiness or is happiness too subtle, too mysterious to lend itself to capture? In a witty and poignant first novel that smartly deconstructs our notion of this maddening, inspiring, fleeting, infinitely changeable state that we all wish for, Anne Giardini has penned a wise and wonderful read. The daughter of Carol Shields, Anne has an intuitive storytelling ability, an affinity for the interior voice, and a warm affection for her flawed characters. 'The Sad Truth About Happiness' is a terrific literary debut.

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Review:

Set in Vancouver, Anne Giardini's debut novel, The Sad Truth About Happiness, follows the life of 32-year-old Maggie, a well-adjusted radiation technologist, as she tries to discover the true nature of happiness. She knows she cannot look to her two sisters as examples: her older sister, Janet, burdened with three kids, is on tranquilizers, while Lucy, the younger, has always been difficult and discontented. Maggie's love life, however, is blossoming, with three new boyfriends (including a doctor and a lawyer). Meanwhile, Maggie's friend, Rebecca, who designs quizzes for women's magazines, tests Maggie with a quiz that purports to measure expected life span. When they learn, according to the quiz, that Maggie might die in three months unless she discovers true happiness, Maggie takes the light-hearted results seriously and sets off on her quest.

Around the same time, Lucy, who has moved to Italy, becomes pregnant by an older Italian man. She flees back to Canada, to the arms of good-hearted, innocent Ryan, who has offered to marry her. When her baby arrives, so does the Italian father, to take his son home to Italy. This is when the novel develops some far-fetched plot twists, as Maggie (who suddenly acts completely out of character) kidnaps the infant and takes off for Quebec with Rebecca, hiding in a small town apparently peopled only by good-hearted Quebecois women. While the author shows a literary flair, particularly in her descriptions of the sky and weather ("the dove- and pearl- and abalone-coloured clouds," "hail the size of infants' teeth"), and draws characters that are, for the most part, believable, the book (like Maggie's evasive happiness) is marred by series of unlikely events and coincidences. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

From the Inside Flap:

At first glance, 32-year-old Maggie Selgrin seems perfectly content. Sensible and even-tempered, she enjoys her job as a mammography technician and has just moved into her dream apartment. Then one evening, her roommate convinces her to take a magazine quiz that calculates the date of one's death. The results suggest that Maggie will die in three months, unless she can honestly change her answer to the question, "Are you happy?"

Thus begins Maggie's quest for love and fulfillment. This luminous novel by the daughter of Carol Shields combines a spirited fairy-tale plot (including three suitors and a stolen baby) with an eloquent meditation on the true nature of happiness.

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Anne Giardini
Published by Fourth Estate (2005)
ISBN 10: 000719286X ISBN 13: 9780007192861
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Aardvark Rare Books
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Book Description Fourth Estate, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Weekday Orders Sent from Herefordshire UK SAME DAY; NEW ***** NOTE LARGE FORMAT PAPERBACK NOT HB* Publishers remainder stamp inside front; 25,000+ Amazon orders sent out. Bookseller Inventory # 000719286XSWe

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