Happy All the Time

happyalltheHappy All the Time
by Laurie Colwin
1978 / 213 pages
read by Marc Vietor  6h 13m
Rating:  8 / 20th century fiction

Reading group selection – (Bookgroup List) – I first thought it was going to be some stupid romance,  but it’s somewhat better than that – in part because much of it is told from several pretty intimate points of view,  and in part because of Vietor’s very nice narration.  It gets slow in a few places but overall it’s quite interesting.  I’m not sure if it feels “dated” or not (1978) – it does feel old-fashioned in the same way that Elizabeth Taylor’s novels feel old-fashioned,  or Penelope Fitzgerald, Barbara Pam – others .

The story –  Guido Morris and Vincent Cardworthy are third cousins,  graduate students, single, and quite different in nature.   Guido thinks about things, ponders them, feels them.  Vincent jumps around enjoying life and just doing things – “…a man of action.”   So falling in love with two completely different women,  Holly Sturgis and Misty Berkowitz, is understood.

But are the two relationships the same in some ways?  That’s one of the questions in my mind.  Both women seemed “difficult” to me.  Both men seemed to expect to get married and live happily ever after and neither woman had that dream.  Both men are head-over-heels in love with the woman of his choice but each woman has her own way of standing apart.  Is there a feminist element to this book – (I don’t know!)

And so the plot ambles along, far more a character driven novel than anything else – as the two couples get together,  go through early relationship issues,  more permanent relationship problems,  fears, jealousy, a baby,  and so on.  “Happy All the Time” they aren’t.

But the book is not heavy into marital woes – Colwin has a light touch,  loving, clear, straightforward, easy, sometimes humorous.  She was never a terribly popular writer, but her work seems to be enduring the test of time,  several have never been out of print and reviewers seem to enjoy going back to them.

Nov. 2014:  NPR –  http://www.npr.org/2014/11/24/365227833/decades-later-laurie-colwins-books-will-not-let-you-down

 

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