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Family Happiness: A Novel
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Family Happiness: A Novel

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  670 ratings  ·  46 reviews
An engaging and enriching novel from a critically acclaimed author that tells the story of a happy wife and mother who one day finds herself embarked on a completely unexpected, sweet, and painful love affair.
Unknown Binding
Published January 1st 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf
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(showing 1-30 of 1,243)
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The book was published in the 1980s and it just seemed outdated. The language, attitudes. Plus it was difficult to warm up to any of the characters. Polly whined constantly about her husband--using his full name any time she referred to him. Although there were three Henry's in the book, I would have thought she could have found a better way to describe him that just as Henry Demarest. Should could have said "my Henry, or even "my husband". But to use his full name page after page seemed ridicul ...more
Have I mentioned that I love Laurie Colwin? The sad thing is that there is only one more of her novels I haven't read yet.

Colwin's writing elevates the domestic fiction genre to literature that smart women will love. Every detail of the setting comforted me while the characters and dialogue exposed conflicts that live in my own heart. Subtle, gorgeous, and ultimately surprising--this book is now one of my all time favorites.
Her husband is a busy big-shot lawyer, her mother is an overbearing New York matron, her younger brother is an obnoxious doofus, her children are young enough to need much of her time, all leaving Polly to live a life of cheerful and successful servility. She's a paragon of perfection, yet still relegated to the supporting cast. That is until Lincoln the outre painter enters her life...

Wait a minute--there is neither a swooning woman in a bodice or a muscle man in an undone shirt on this book's
What a disappointing story, about an old-money New Yorker who feels torn between her insufferable, snobbish family and her commitment-phobic artist-lover. I'm so angry, because I've really enjoyed everything else I've read by Laurie Colwin, and this book casts it all in a new light. Colwin writes about rich, well-educated, beautiful, introspective people who wear beautiful clothes and listen to classical music and drink coffee in bed and talk about love with their partners as rain taps against t ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Sera rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Picked up for challenge
Decent read about a woman who finds her sense of self through her relations with people outside of her family.

While reading this book, I thought that it was published in the 70s, because it seemed to fit the feminism movement that had evolved then. Then, I realized that the book was actually published in 1982. Once I learned that, then the book felt dated to me, because the story of the main character, Polly, seemed to be one that women may have not really identified with at that point in Americ
I never thought I would read a book that discussed having an affair in a way that would make me understand the person having it, and yet, Colwin pulls it off and you actually find yourself rooting for Polly and wanting her to be a little selfish and put herself out there in ways that conventionally are not moral but necessary in order for her to grow into a person that she can be happy with. Some of Colwin's lines cut incredibly deep and I think everyone experiences the kind of fears and desires ...more
Sort of a psychological profile of a woman who spent her life trying to please everyone - the good daughter, mother, wife who finally breaks out. Interesting that she doesn't face the consequences of her actions, but does shake up some family members who begin to treat her differently.
Really didn't like the writing style in this one. The characters never felt real or close-- it was like being told a story about someone by someone who barely knew them. Didn't work for me.
Laurie Colwin is one of my favorite authors. Makes me sad that she died so young! Her novels are deceptively simple. She always make you think twice about the choices we make in life as women. Read her writing about food too! Excellent!
Victoria Wolfe
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Aliki Barnstone
Laurie Colwin's Familly Happiness is a wonderful novel. Colwin died of a heart attack at 48, and her death deprived the world of a storyteller whose work will haunt me and inspire me for a lifetime. Family Happiness reminds me of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, only set in late 20th Century Manhattan - and I'm not giving away the ending when I write that. It's different - but the protagonist in both books have similar "awakenings" from the mores and strictures of married women and good daughters, w ...more
Family Happiness by Laurie Colwin is the story of a woman, Polly, who always does what is expected of her. She is the only daughter in a prominent family, who married the right guy, and had two nearly perfect children. She has a job, but always puts her husband's needs before her own. Until the day she finds herself swept up in an affair with a local artist. The book tracks Polly's confusion as she tries to figure out what it means to follow her own heart, and to figure out the right line to tow ...more
This book just spoke to me and along with "Happy All The Time", are my favorite of Laurie Colwin's wonderful novels. I understood the dynamics of the Solo-Miller clan and experienced all of the realizations and the unhappiness that Polly feels as she begins to better understand who her family members really are and how their expectations have shaped and to a large extent, "controlled" her life. This is an excellent account of what it is like to grow up in a certain type of traditional family str ...more
Anyone who knows me, or has read my reviews, knows that I am such a sucker for family stories.

So if I'm not completely entranced by one, you know it's pretty bad.

This book was just so freaking repetitive. There were only so many times I could read about Polly crying and telling Lincoln she felt guilty being with him. I mean really. Were I of age, it would have been a fun drinking game.

The characters were horrible -whiny and unsympathetic, dysfunctional and unlikable-in-the-bad-way. The family dy
All of Colwin's books, several each of short stories and novels, are wonderful and I can't recommend them highly enough. I actually bought many of her books in hardcover, something rare for me! They are all about life and love in Manhattan. She has been described as having "very acute sensibilities," whatever those are and has also been compared to Jane Austen. Her first novel is Happy All the Time, which is about two couples who are related and are friends. My favorite book of short stories is ...more
Amy Ruth
So odd that none of the wry wit, warmth, or frankness of Colwin as a nonfiction writer came through in this novel. Home Cooking is one of my favorite books of all time so I sure wanted to love this! I didn't, but that's OK--I think it's just a little dated. I will still read her other books. I am a devoted fan.
Nice story line! Suggested by Elin Hilderbrand as her favorite book! it was everything a good book should be: entertaining, suspenseful, great love story. I could see Colwin's influence on Hilderbrand's books!
Suanne Laqueur
One of my all-time absolute favorites. I read it every couple of years. It influenced me as both a reader and a writer.
Only Laurie Colwin can write a book about someone in a happy marriage conducting a long-term affair and make your understand and care about everyone. I just love her writing.
"Did people create families in order to keep themselves from wondering what the purpose of life was?"
Dewkist Farm
Eh. Nothing special. Just a time passer.
Elizabeth Schlatter
The main character, Polly, was so tense and worried while having an affair that it made me tense just reading this novel. It wasn't quite the book I expected, although it was an easy read. And it was interesting to see a character change from someone who felt put-upon by everyone in her family to someone who stands up for herself. Although by the end I kept thinking she just needed quit thinking about herself so much and go do something meaningful for a change.
I read books about rich New Yorkers with First World problems the way others might enjoy Twilight, so obviously I liked this one. Some parts were ridiculous (affair with an artist? really?), but it was definitely well above most of the current chick lit that's out there. Let's put this halfway between Jane Austen and Jennifer Weiner.
I think that this author is really good, but for some reason I had trouble staying interested in the storyline. I thought maybe it was repetitive about halfway through and I wasn't finding out anything new or following any path - just seemed to stagnate to me. It was probably my frame of mind.
Laurie Colwin's novels (most of them, see Shine on Bright and Dangerous Object for an exception), always seem to get better with each rereading. I see something new, or appreciate something new with each reading. Bumped this up from three stars to four.
I loved the story and how Laurie Colwin captures this family and Polly. Her writing style is easy and breezy but is still able to craft a story with depth simply because it articulates what many people probably feel but aren't able to say out loud.
I think this would be more like 3.5. I really DID NOT like the ending, and the whole thing deals with an affair, so that's not my favorite subject either. I do like the writing and the real life feelings you get from the characters.
Got so tired of the main character's tedious inner life - I usually have a high tolerance for reading in-depth accounts of characters' feelings, but this woman just goes on and on about the same damn thing over and over again.
I enjoyed this book about a wife who feels taken for granted. I liked being inside her head and hearing how she was going to try to work her way through her problems. The ending was not what I expected but I liked it.
Although predicatable and without much depth to the protagonist and related characters this is one of Colwin's better books. The writing is concise and at times beautiful.
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Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels: Happy All the Time, Family Happiness, Goodbye Without Leaving, Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object, and A Big Storm Knocked It Over; three collections of short stories: Passion and Affect, Another Marvelous Thing, and The Lone Pilgrim; and two collections of essays: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. She died in 1992.
More about Laurie Colwin...
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen Happy All the Time More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen A Big Storm Knocked It Over Goodbye Without Leaving

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