Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, July 24, 2006

Happiness Sold Separately:just add reader and enjoy

In Lolly Winston's new novel,Happiness Sold Separately,we met Elinor and Ted Mackey,a married couple on the verge of a major implode. After two years of trying to concieve a child and dozens of invitro procedures that lead nowhere,Elinor has sunk into a depression that only doing endless loads of laundry seems to be a temporary cure. Ted's frustrations at not being able(or allowed)to help his wife thru this bad patch,brings him to the arms of Gina,a gym trainer who perks up his diet and his love life.

Once Elinor gets wind of the affair,she insists on separating. At first,all Ted can think about is how to fix things between them and end it with Gina but there's more than one complication. Gina has a son,Toby,who takes an instant liking to Ted and convinces him to be his math tutor. Ted finds it hard to pull away from this ready made family(as does Gina,who is torn between wanting Ted in her's and Toby's life yet not wanting to pin all her hopes on a married man who may go back to his wife at any moment). Elinor stirs somewhat out of her funk and communes with nature,or atleast the tree in the her yard she calls Warren.

Elinor's newfound outdoorsiness brings a tree surgeon named Noah around to revive her romantic energies along with inspiring a young house cleaner's crush. Just when Elinor and Ted seem to know where all of this is going,a most unexpected turn of events brings about even more new changes and questions for everyone.

This is Winston's second novel and there's no sign of any sophmore slump here at all. This book is strongly imprinted with the Anne Tyler School of Seemingly Odd yet Ordinary Folks Style with it's own grooves and grips for the characters to hold on to and make their own marks upon the story and the reader alike.

One of the best things about HSS is that you get a good feel for all the players involved,without overly dramatic nuances or pigeonholing characters. Elinor and Gina are as equally sympathetic and yet not given easy outs. Ted's hesitation to stay or go can be frustrating but you see how he only means to do right by those he loves. The writing is paced to perfection and I literally spent my whole weekend deeply engrossed within these pages. Such storytelling skills are not so readily found and should be cherished when you are lucky enough to see them for yourself.

Happiness Sold Separately will be at bookstores everywhere by August 8(please click the title link to find more about Lolly Winston and her works)and I'm sure reading groups will be lined up to add it to their TBR lists. Don't be the last one to know about this wonderful new read-make a special place for HSS on your bedside reading table. You'll be more than happy that you did.


PJS said...

I don't know why this reminded me, but, did you like "She's Come Undone"?

lady t said...

Yes, I like She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True(wish Wally Lamb would hurry up and give us another novel real soon!). Happiness Sold Separately does have that kind of vibe,most definately.

PJS said...

That's sort of the vibe I got from your review. Maybe I'll just read it...

I loved She's Come Undone, but have two close women friends who thought Wally Lamb did a horrible job of capturing the voice of a female character. Not being female myself, I could offer no rebuttal.

lady t said...

Well,I don't think Lamb's too bad at creating a feminine voice but will say that I Know This Much Is True is a stronger novel that She's Come Undone.

I did read IKTMIT twice and SCU only once. After enjoying HSS,I'm going to give Winston's first novel,Good Grief,a whirl:)