Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Secrets to Happiness” as Want to Read:
Secrets to Happiness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Secrets to Happiness

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,691 ratings  ·  354 reviews
Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life--with Holly's ex!

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 25th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Secrets to Happiness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Secrets to Happiness

The Help by Kathryn StockettSecret Speakers and the Search for Selador's Gate by Karey (K.S.R. Kingworth) ShaneThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Predict Oprah's Next Book Club Book!
23rd out of 140 books — 617 voters
Out of the Box Awakening by Jennifer TheriotEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertFrom Hurt to Happiness by Mike VanHe's Just Not That Into You by Greg BehrendtBridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Best Books to Get Over a Break Up
90th out of 107 books — 144 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
entertaining, but scattered and lacking in substance.

ms. dunn really needs to put more focus on character development and the climax. i could not understand what motivated these people to do what they did because each character was filled with fluff and nutella. that being said, i rarely understand people, yet find them amusing and enjoyable, so can't (won't) discount this book on that basis.

as for the climax....i'm still wondering where the WOW factor is? it was all so typical. where was the
I almost didn't finish the book because it was about a bunch of New Yorkers doing drugs and having casual sex and affairs, desperately dating people they actually despise based on superficial characteristics, and spending outrageous amounts of money on really stupid stuff.

However, it turns out it is a good story and a good bit of the book is about the protagonist, Holly Frick, and how she doesn't approve of the garbage. She even tells people she doesn't approve.

And the cover is adorable.
I just reviewed this novel. I didn't realize until after I read the whole thing that I had read her earlier novel, Big Love. This one has a similarly confused ex-evangelical main character. A love story, sort of. Chick lit, sort of. Drama, sort of. Comedy, sort of. Nice.
Of course no one can resist a needy puppy, so this was a good ploy to humanize the protagonist, whose shallow, pointless life is rescued first by adopting a dog with brain cancer and then by adopting another puppy who has been left in the pound. Throw in some cute neglected dogs and everyone is happy (according to the old Hollywood adage)! Thus, this novel is full of cliches, both linguistically and in depiction of its of characters.

I lived in NYC and and know that not every woman believes that
I'm not sure why I thought a book about a single woman writer living in Manhattan wouldn't be chick lit, since most chick lit begins with those very same ingredients. It's kind of like taking ground beef, adding orange powder, serving it in a hard shell and saying "But it's not a taco."

But in Jancy Willett's review of "Secrets of Happiness" in the NYT's Book Review, she says point blank: " ["Secrets of Happiness":] was definitely not written just for women, no matter how it’s packaged. True, the
Okay -- before I rip this book, I will say some positive things. I give the author credit for trying to write a chick lit book that transcends the genre by having some depth and asking some philosophical questions. Holly, the main character, is from a religious Christian background (though she is not currently affiliated) and frequently contemplates the morality of her Manhattan friends' happiness-seeking behavior, not to mention the elusive nature of the happiness they pursue. Her friends gentl ...more
This made me laugh out loud. So it gets 5 stars.
Sarah Dunn is a truly talented writer. Her writing is witty, lively, and flows beautifully. However, for me, Secrets to Happiness wasn't the book to showcase that talent. In fairness, let me start off by saying that I am probably outside of the target demographic of this book. I am a fairly conservative, career woman turned stay-at-home mother, who is totally devoted to my husband and children. The characters in this novel would likely describe me as a naive optimist.

The central character of the
Jan 29, 2012 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I have heard numerous female authors complain about the fact that any book about a woman by a woman gets unfairly ghettoized into the "pink section" of the bookstore. Sarah Dunn's author protagonist complains about this very thing in this book, in fact. While I've never seen Dunn make this complaint directly about her own work, she's perhaps the "women's fiction" author whose complaints in this direction would be most justified. This oddly philosophical foray into the complicated relationships o ...more
As I first started reading this book I thought the writing was funny and clever. In fact, I laughed out loud a few times which is unusual for me when I am reading a book. But by about page 100 I started to get weary of the whining and lack of integrity of most of the characters. The protagonist Holly, I found especially annoying and it's hard to read a book when you find the lead character annoying. It finished nicely and redeemed itself somewhat- Enough that I am curious to read the author's fi ...more
This book was a total treat to read. Seriously, my husband had to leave the room, because I had to stop quite often in order to read him a passage. When something is that good, I have to share. I would compare this work to one of my all time favorites "Heartburn" by Nora Ephron, because like Heartburn, it had moments that just cracked me up and were completely impossible to not share. Also I totally could not put this book down! Sarah Dunn has an absolute powerful way of bringing her characters ...more
Holly Frick just went through the worst kind of divorce: the one where you’re still in love with the person divorcing you. Facing up to life on her own, she needs a distraction to keep her mind off her own non-existent love life. Like Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse, Holly is intimately involved in the lives of those closest to her, and now she feels compelled to give advice with unwavering moral certainty. And, like Emma, she is often completely off the mark. Soon she’s in over her head, advising ...more
“Secrets to Happiness” revolves around the lives of several thirty and forty something New Yorkers whose lives are loosely connected through their friendship with the main character, a writer named Holly Frick. Holly’s husband left her even though she’s still in love with him, her novel “Hello, Mr. Heartache” was unsuccessful, and now she finds herself writing for a tween television show she despises. Needless to say, Holly is not a happy woman, and the other characters aren’t any better off. Ho ...more
I LOVED this book. Simply adored everything about it, even the parts I didn't like, if that makes sense. At first, while reading the book, I thought that the cover was a little misleading. It seemed like one of those covers you find on those "feel good" books about women in their mid-thirties who find themselves and then find the perfect man, getting involved with all kinds of cheesy, kooky antics along the way. (This book is nothing like that.) But then, after I finished the book, I realized th ...more
If I could give this negative stars, I would. It only got one star because I managed to finish it. A group of hateful people ruin each other and themselves out of middle class boredom. That's basically my take on a terrible example of "chick lit." I'm really annoyed I read this. Maybe I'm missing some kind of humor the author intended, but I honestly came away from this book thinking Dunn is the biggest misogynist I've ever come across. Well, to be fair the male characters are equally atrocious. ...more
I am so completely ambivalent about this book, it's kinda nuts. There were a couple of times in the first half of the book where I found myself snorting or chuckling out loud (in public!), but it quickly devolved into a confusing, chaotic collection of personal stories and problems that I could care less about.

I read some other reviews about the book before finishing it, but I don't think they actually affected my opinion of the book - some people are upset about the undercurrent of religious ri
Despite the adorable beagle on this book, it was incredibly difficult to get through. This story is about Holly Frick and her friends/acquanitances in New York City. Each of them seems to be having their own sort of issues from the woman who think she is bad in bed to the best friend who is cheating on her husband to the ex-boyfriend who is trying to have a serious relationship but can't help messing it up. Then there is Holly, recently divorced and very righteous, who is sleeping with a man 12 ...more
Well, I've just read Room and Never Let Me Go, two pretty intense books. I picked this one up from the library because I like that "Happiness" is in the title and I needed a break from abuse/rape/genocide. It was funny. I laughed more than most of the people who reviewed this book. I loved the dogs in the book. The protagonist, Holly, was sort of pathetic, but in an "I've felt this sorry for myself," kind of way. The cover on my book isn't half so wonderful as the cover on the copy that arose wh ...more
Jul 21, 2009 J. added it
Read this book in one sitting. I liked it and it gave me a lot to think about. I LOVED The Big Love, really admired it, but this one seems more sophisticated. My least favorite parts were the Leonard parts. I loved the Betsy storyline and even the Spencer storyline. I wish I could have a discussion with someone about the points in this book--I found myself understanding Spence's point of view at times and that scares me! Hopefully I'm not the only one. I liked Holly a lot, really interesting. I ...more
I didn't have any emotional attachment to this read. There was no continuous plot and while the characters did have a connection to each other's lives, they had no real connection with each other through dialogue or situations that made me care about any one of them.

Holly, the main character is part of a thirty-something circle living in New York trying to figure out how she is ever going to be happy. She is still suffering from the surprise of her divorce, is still in love, she thinks, with her
While the synopsis lets you believe that this is going to be a character study about the main character, Holly, and her quest for love, it ends up being a snapshot into the lives of Holly and various people in her life. However, the characters are not fleshed out enough to care about them, in fact, I found myself having a hard time identifying, let alone, liking any of them.
This was a very cute, quick read. The characters were all very defined and relatable. The topics were surface level and were also things that most people have dealt with or heard about from their friends. I felt like the characters were all my friends and we were catching up over starbucks. Would recommend for those who enjoy chick lit.
I know this is chick lit but it's smarter than normal chick lit. I was able to read the entire book on the flight from New York to Seattle and it was a welcome distraction since I hate flying. One of the best parts was the NYC setting and the fact that I could recognize some of the places mentioned.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Surface characters with a surface plot, I just couldnt find it in myself to care about the main protaganist, Holly, and there just seemed to be no point at all. There were some good lines but otherwise a bland self indulgent feel that didn't appeal at all.
Just - The romance reader
I really just couldn't get into this book. I got through maybe a forth of the book. I'm not even going to give the book a rating because I don't feel that would be fair. Maybe it is actually a good book, just slow to start off?
An impulse grab from the used book shelf but I'm glad I picked it up. It's one of those books that captures what is probably an unreal representation of life for a young, 30-something single woman in NYC but one that I would hope is true or at least partially possible. So it was fun to get lost in the fun, witty life of Holly and her social circle. Though the players were sometimes unnecessary or out of place, it gave a little bit of a different perspective of that human struggle of finding one' ...more
Charming, funny and a good read.
Another good book for a plane ride.
Holly was one of the most annoying characters I've ever read about. She was, however, very much of the opinion that one should always do the morally right thing - even tho her "friends" repeatedly told her that her "hypocrisy" was what drove them away from her (certainly it wasn't their affairs while they were dating or married to her, or even her best friend's fault when she decided to elope with Holly's current boyfriend). I was really quite flabergasted because I hear the author loud and clea ...more
Wendy Hines
Holly is recently divorced from a man she was deeply in love with. She spends her days as a writer for a teen Nickelodeon show since her first published novel smashed, even if she did portray her ex-lover Spencer in it.

She adopts a dog named Chester who has a brain tumor and is optimistic for them both. She even takes a lover, a young twenty-two year old, who soothes her needs, but yet makes her feel like she is cradle robbing.

She swears she won't get married again, and is off men to her best fr
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Love or Something Like It
  • In the Heart of the Canyon
  • The Widow's Season
  • Crossing Washington Square
  • The Cat Owner's Manual
  • Day for Night
  • Mercury in Retrograde
  • Three Girls and Their Brother
  • It All Began in Monte Carlo
  • Irreplaceable
  • The Late, Lamented Molly Marx
  • The Heights
  • Hello Goodbye
  • This Must Be the Place
  • One True Theory of Love
  • Looking for Mr. Goodfrog
  • Don't You Forget About Me
  • Super in the City
Sarah Dunn (born 1970) is an American author and television writer. She was educated in the University of Arizona.

Coming to prominence in 1994 with her book Official Slacker Handbook, Sarah Dunn went to Hollywood, where she wrote for such series as Murphy Brown, Veronica's Closet and Spin City.
More about Sarah Dunn...
The Big Love The Official Slacker Handbook Colston's Girls' School: the first hundred years Het geheim van geluk Shock Totem 2: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted

Share This Book

“Ordinarily, I am the person who falls in love quickly and somewhat inappropriately and then goes on to destroy what is a good thing. That's always been my style. So, you know: I get it. And I feel right now the way I imagine all those guys felt with me. And I have to say, for the first time in my life, I feel something approaching compassion for them.” 53 likes
“You've got to let people be just, you know, people. Everyone does bad things sometimes, for all sorts of reasons. You've got to at least understand.” 35 likes
More quotes…