The Secrets of Happiness is one of these books that I picked up merely because of the cover. I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover. But. It is really pretty and actually quite good. So let’s get stuck into the review.
The story follows Becca and her sister Rachel through a summer that will change both of their lives.
Becca is somehow stuck. She is living in a tiny flat with her roommate Meredith and working in a Pub. Her jewelry business forgotten and no good men on the horizon. All in all, she thinks that her life is a bit crap (sorry :)), but doesn’t really know how to go about changing it.
A few hours away, Rachel lives the seemingly perfect life. She has the handsome husband, successful job, three lovely kids, a dog and a textbook house. At least that’s what Becca thinks.
So when Rachel is mugged and ends up in hospital, Becca is the one who has to come to the rescue and step into her sister’s shoes. She does. Albeit reluctantly. And slowly she comes to the realization that her sister’s life might not be that perfect after all.
The Secrets of Happiness is, obviously, a story about finding happiness. But it is also a story about re-discovery and the value of family and true friendship. It stresses the fact that things are hardly ever what they appear to be. And reminds us that happiness is mostly found in the little things in life.
This message that urges us to look beyond what meets the eye is what I really enjoyed about the book. I feel like there were no over the top bookish characters if you know what I mean. Becca and Rachel are just too normal women who are trying to live their lives as good as they can. They are no over-achievers, but neither are they particularly lost. They seem like two very normal women dealing with problems all of us deal with. And that’s what made the book very relatable. It made me feel less alone and weird. Because if Becca and even Rachel can have identity crises, so can I. Right?
This realness is also reflected in the sub-stories of the book. There is, for example, Rita an elderly woman who finds joy again by tending to her allotment garden. Then there is Mabel, Rachel’s teenage daughter, who is going through her first police-escort and breakup. There’s Luke who gains all his confidence back after learning a few karate kicks. There are so many people who, throughout the book, find what really makes them happy. Be it making jewelry or learning to cook a good home-cooked meal. Or be it learning to accept the fact that your family isn’t that bad after all. Whatever it is, I really enjoyed “watching” all of the characters discovering their secret to happiness.
But – and there is almost always a but – there were also some things that I struggled with. And one of them is Lucy Diamond’s writing style. Now, The Secrets of Happiness is my first Lucy Diamond book. I have two more on my TBR pile, tough. And for some reason, I’m not quite sure yet if I’m looking forward to reading them or not.
In general, I like Lucy Diamond’s writing style. She is very good in describing emotions and inner battles. And sometimes that’s all I really need. But for whatever reason, I felt like these descriptions were sometimes a bit lengthy. There were some passages where I really struggled to stay focused and not just skim the pages without really reading anything. Maybe a bit more dialogue and interaction would have done the book some good.
I also feel – and this is ironic really – like the book needed a bit more substance. And it is ironic because, as mentioned above, the fact that the stories are so very real is something I enjoyed about the book. But even reality might need to be spiced up just a little bit to keep me entertained. Oh how ungrateful and arrogant that sounds. 🙂 But I hope that you know what I mean. I basically just felt like some passages were dragged out a bit and others – like the Becca and Adam story – could have used a bit more room. But hey. Maybe that’s just me and my romance-obsessed self. 🙂
So. Would I recommend the book? I’m torn. If you are looking for a light, entertaining and romancy kind of book, then I fear that The Secrets of Happiness isn’t what you’re looking for. If, however, you want to read something a bit deeper that tells the story of real life and if you don’t mind descriptive passages, then you could definitely enjoy this book. Whatever choice you make, let me know. I’m curious as to whether you agree or disagree with me.