Manhattan, Thanksgiving Eve 1945. War is over and Eric Smythe's party is swinging. Everyone is there, including his sister Sara. Then in walks the gatecrasher - Jack Malone, an army journalist fresh from a defeated Germany. This chance meeting between Sara and Jack will have profound consequences.
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The Pursuit of Happiness opens with a funeral scene, swiftly setting the tone for this tragic love story-cum-damning indictment of the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1940s and 50s. Douglas Kennedy's 500-page epic delivers a consummate yet intimate look at post-war New York, gripped by the fear of the enemy within and purging the country of Communists, told through the story of Sara Smythe, a small-c conservative striving to make sense of her own place in the world. Sara's story unfolds as Kate, the daughter of the recently deceased Dorothy Malone, reads a manuscript handed to her by an elusive woman who appears at her mother's graveside.
This, Sara's account, begins 55 years earlier at a Manhattan party hosted by her brother Eric, a successful gag writer on the hugely successful Marty Manning Show. Searching the room aimlessly, her gaze locks with that of Jack Malone and for the next 24 hours the pair are inseparable. Jack must return to Europe but not before securing Sara's promise that she will be there on the dock in nine months time. However, it is another five years before the pair reunite as divided loyalties, duty and fate combine to thwart them. As the years pass, Kennedy treats us to an urbane look at Manhattan life: from Duke Ellington to highballs to the Stork Club; from Thomas E. Dewey to Pearl Buck to Rita Hayworth, the prose is enlivened by contemporary allusions to every facet of city life. As Sara, Eric and Jack's lives converge, though, the narrative's themes of betrayal and disloyalty on a personal and national level (echoing those of McCarthy himself) collide.
Kennedy's final damning moral is that chance only plays a small part in how our lives turn out--it is the choices we make subsequently that determine our destinies. The Pursuit of Happiness is therefore not a comforting read but it is ultimately affirming if you see that each step counts and the pursuit is everything. --Nicola PerryReview:
"This is the novel against which the rest of the year's output demands to be judged" ( Express on Sunday)
"Kennedy cannot help but write grippingly, and he weaves threads of love and betrayal into a thrillingly masterful ending" ( Observer)
"This superb story of divided loyalties and personal tragedy will heave you pinned to your seat" ( Woman & Home)
"Curl up and enjoy" ( Spectator)
"A triumph" ( Mail on Sunday)
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Book Description Random House, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110091794374
Book Description Random House, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0091794374