Happy All the Time (1978)

by Laurie Colwin

Happy All the Time is a tongue-in-cheek title: The two couples in this novel not only are not always happy but also wonder whether love might not be "sickness." This is not a sentimental novel, but it is one that asserts that love is worth the pain.

Giudo, who analyzes everything, marries inscrutable, self-contained Holly, with whom he thinks life is perfect — until she leaves him for an undetermined period with no explanation except that separation will keep them from growing complacent.

Meanwhile, his best friend and third cousin Vincent, an easygoing guy who thinks things usually work out, is laboring mightily to win the heart of Misty, a self-described "scourge of God" who expects the worst to happen.

But none of them gives up. While you may wonder what the attractions were, by the end of the book author Laurie Colwin manages to persuade you that each is with the right person. As Misty put it: Vincent's "happy vistas and Misty's grim vision fused into one full-balanced picture of the world."

Happy All the Time will make you believe in love, but not as a gift the gods bestow on the lucky. On the last page, when the two couples toast "a truly wonderful life," you feel they've earned it.

Love was Colwin's favorite subject in her five novels and three volumes of short stories. She also wrote two books about food before dying unexpectedly in 1992 of a heart attack at age 48. She is not widely known, but she has a devoted following of fans who say they return to her books over and over for new insights and encouragement as they confront their own difficulties of the heart.


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