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Secrets to Happiness

3.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,840 Ratings  ·  374 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!

Holl
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Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 25th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Danielle
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
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christa
May 21, 2009 christa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kristi
Jan 22, 2009 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Anika
Jan 12, 2009 Anika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
June
Jul 11, 2010 June rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Miriam
Aug 16, 2008 Miriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This made me laugh out loud. So it gets 5 stars.
Hilarie
Jun 10, 2009 Hilarie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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K
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
Leah
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
Jess
Jan 29, 2012 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Theresa
Sep 18, 2012 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Karen
Sep 06, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ariela
Aug 17, 2009 Ariela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Alexandra
Sep 14, 2011 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly
May 31, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
treehugger
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
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Jane
Mar 27, 2011 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy
Mar 27, 2009 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica
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
amyextradot
Oct 24, 2009 amyextradot rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Melissa
Jul 15, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
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.
Britany
Mar 06, 2012 Britany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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.
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?
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.
Elaina
Sep 05, 2010 Elaina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good book for a plane ride.
Mandy
May 05, 2012 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming, funny and a good read.
Krista
Oh my goodness, these people were annoying. I thought it would be a book about a woman adopting a dog, rebuilding her life and finding love after divorce. Instead it was a bunch of self-absorbed people making horrible choices and then complaining about them. After the main character started falling for her married, best friend's lover (yep, you read that correctly), I gave up. I kept waiting for the dog story to start, but halfway through he was mentioned twice. The only good thing about this bo ...more
Margaret
Apr 01, 2014 Margaret rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Shea
Jan 21, 2017 Shea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-sale
I thought the title of this book was interesting, as it implies the characters should learn the secrets to happiness throughout the course of the novel. Am I the only one that doesn’t see that happen? Sure, there’s a chance Holly might be happy with her new dog and her (potential) new man at the end of the book, but I don’t get the feeling that she learned anything intentionally through the course of the novel, besides when she meets Spence at the end and he tells her she needs to let people be ...more
Serena
May 27, 2009 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A lot of life, it seemed to Holly, was turning out to be just like that. You keep walking, and you keep breathing, and then one day you notice, again, the feel of the wind on your cheek." (Page 275)

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn focuses on the life of Holly Frick and each of the people she effects with her decisions and how their decisions impact her life in a gigantic web. From Holly's ex-boyfriend Spence Samuelson to Betsy Silverstein and her friends Amanda and Mark to her screenwriter/pa
...more
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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...

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“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.” 42 likes
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