This Is Not The Story You Think It Is...: A Season of Unlikely Happiness
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This Is Not The Story You Think It Is...: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,231 ratings  ·  323 reviews
Laura Munson's essay in the New York Times, about the time she was tested in a way she never anticipated, created a firestorm-now here's the whole story.

When Laura Munson's essay was published, The New York Times was so flooded with responses that they had to close down the comment feature. Readers wrote in saying that they had sent the column to all of their friends. Th...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2010)
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Aug 01, 2010 Molly rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NO ONE
Recommended to Molly by: Alison & Corrina-bookclub
Warning: Rant ahead.
This woman is INSUFFERABLE. I didn't want to read this book and almost quit about 50 pages in because it's such an irritating waste of time, but I've only not finished a bookclub book one time in over 4 years. I can't believe I made it through 350 pages of her poor-little-rich-girl whining. She is shallow and a new-age poser. She wants to be Eat, Pray, Love and doesn't come close. She makes me wish we had a residency test for anyone who wants to move here. She is NOT a real...more
A drunken gerbil could write a better and more closely-reasoned memoir than this.

Hardly any of the sentences or paragraphs make sense.

"It feels like the country fair has come to the town of my mind--complete with sketchy rides, carnies, and sugar-amped kids crying over lost balloons. So loud and disorienting. I want it to pack up and move on to the next town. I want my mind to be an open grassy field again with crickets and dandelions. Besides, my husband isn't there to ring the bell with the...more
Laura Munson
Jul 29, 2010 Laura Munson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, heck. I wrote it. So I love it. I'm proud of its message and I want it to help people. And based on the amazing emails I get all is. Thanks for your support, goodreads!
I liked this book. I think I wanted to like it slightly more than I did after I heard about the premise on NPR. Then, when I started the book the author kind of annoyed me. Her trust-fund baby background pushed all my prejudice buttons and set up a nice little tone of resentment that hung between the story and myself and threatened to undo all the possibility for mutuality and connection that is the very heart of enjoying a memoir.

Yeah, and then I got over it. Laura is a little bit spoiled. She...more
Definitely worth a read, though with some caveats. Laura Munson is remarkably likable (unlike Elizabeth Gilbert to whom I'm sure she'll be compared repeatedly). It's easy to root for her and her advice is thoughtful, honest, and compassionate.

That being said, the book's writing is a little amateurish at times and can also meander; in trying to fix her marriage, Munson strives for a level of anonymity and privacy for her husband and children that is admirable but also leaves much of her narrativ...more

Wow. What a fun memoir. I loved it. Loved every word. I found this book at our bookstore, and it does not really come out until April. The book is the memoir by Laura Munson, who happens to live in Whitefish, Montana! Can you believe that? I think she is about 8 years older than all of my friends, but she moved to Montana the same year my family did.

The book was also summarized in a New York Times column last August.

In summary, her husband asked her for a divorce, and told her he did not love he...more
This book was so horrible that I struggled to continue past the 1st chapter...but I did...and persevered to finish the whole horrid mess. Ms. Munson's style of writing is disjointed, juvenile, and filled with unnecessary and gratuitous expletives. She comes across as a privileged, spoiled, self-centered, and materialistic has-been debutante...not the most likable of characters. While we read about her marriage falling apart, it is difficult to dredge up any sort of sympathy for her character, no...more
Mary Novaria
When the going got tough... Laura Munson decided not to play the victim. Instead, she was determined NOT to suffer, even when her husband--and the father of her two children--told her he wasn't sure he still loved her. Her response was something akin to "keep calm, carry on," partly because she simply didn't buy it. He was in the midst of financial losses and business woes and she was a convenient target for his angst. Some may have accused Ms. Munson of being in denial; instead, it seems she kn...more
Angela Risner
First of all, you should all read this book. Everyone in the world should read this book.

Why? Because it's about relationships. It's about communication. It's about finding your own bliss - not tying all of your happiness up into another person. You must find happiness in yourself.

I started this book and was three pages into it when I realized that a friend of mine who is going through a rough spot in her marriage needed to read it. I told her to go right to the store and get it. She did and it...more
How would you react if your husband suddenly told you he didn't love you anymore (maybe never did) and wanted to leave you? I doubt there are many of us that could step back, take a deep breath, and not take it personally. This is exactly how Munson chose to react (CHOSE being the operative word) and I was impressed with her objective, mature approach. Her plan was to give her husband some space and time, no "guilting" him into staying, no screaming or blaming. She decided to take responsibility...more
Nadine Jones
Memoir of a time in the author's life when her husband said "I'm not sure if I love you" and walked out the door.

I had a lot of hope when I started reading this, but I quickly started skimming, because she repeats herself, and she strikes me as rather smug. I'll skim a few more chapters to see if it gets better, but I don't expect much.


I'm still skimming, I've skimmed myself to about 75% of the way done. The author remains quite smug. So disappointing.

A big part of my problem here is the autho...more
UGH! it seems to me that this book is written by a 5 year old! she's SO self absorbed and superior that i didn't like her at all. the premise of the story is good and had potential but this girl blew it. now i know why it took her 20 years to finally get published but i wonder why this one did. TERRIBLE!
My pastor recommended this book to me, not because my husband has said "I don't love you, and I'm not sure I ever did," but because he knew that this book could apply to anyone enduring a tough relationship. I appreciate Munson's honesty as she shares, sometimes moment by moment, the hardest thing I can imagine in a marriage. This book was like therapy for me. And, since I checked it out from the library, free therapy at that. :)
Boring...just another ill-written memoir in the wake of The Middle Place. Not well-written or particularly clever. Leaves no doubt in your mind why her previous 20 novels did not get published...
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was the best book I read in 2010. And having read it once, I want to read it again. This simple, unassuming debut is such an important book, as I told Munson when I wrote her via facebook. The handful of friends with whom I've shared Season Of Unlikely Happiness also love it.

Munson writes beautifully, utilizing an 'I' voice that inserts you deeply into her mind. Her portrayal of her darker side, which she treats as a character named Sheila, is both funny and painfully honest.

Above all, thou...more
I downloaded the sample of this book to my Kindle and decided the author was too whiny and too WASP-y for me to buy it. The first few pages MUST have nagged in the back of my brain, though, as I finally journeyed to the library to pick up this book.

Turns out, once I got over the fact that she was, indeed, whiny and WASP-y, that I really did get caught up in her journey of being the creator of her own happiness. The story definitely has some strikingly awkward writing [she is a fan of flashbacks...more
Well, like they say, don't just a book by it's cover. Or, in this case, it's blurb. I've had this sucker on a to-be-read list since we picked it up for our library system over two years ago, and I was finally at a point to pick it up, give it a shot.

I made it to page 104 and quit.

I'd read Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin, and this book sounded like it might be in the same vein. I really liked the whole "you are responsible for your happiness and no one else" attitude that was covered in the b...more
I saw this book on a number of blogs and the article Munson wrote in the New York Times. The premise of the book is that her husband told her one day that he no longer loved her and he was going to leave the family. She responded by asking him to try anything other than separation to cure his mental and emotional ills. She also took care to feed her own spirit during the difficult time. The book follows the journey of the couple and Munson's internal path for a few months.

I enjoyed her authentic...more
Sarah Walsh
Upon seeing this book displayed on a library shelf, it wasn’t the image of the horse-shoe that lured me to it. ‘A Season of Unlikely Happiness’… hmm, that’s something I can relate to. Let’s hope it’s a miserable horse story written by *rolls eyes to heaven, a woman creature (eww). No doubt woe and short-comings will feature, perhaps she’s fallen off a horse, both her feet have had to be amputated. Her only option left is to sport horse shoes. The first miserable woman on earth wearing dainty hor...more
*Choosing happiness over suffering*

In the beginning of this memoir, Laura shares her Author's Statement of: "I write to shine a light on an otherwise dim or even pitchblack corner, to provide relief for myself and others."

And, this Reader's Reaction to that Author's Statement is: "Your light shines on. And on. And on."

A poignant, real-time, down-to-earth, and unforgettable journey, _This Is Not The Story You Think It Is_ gives us all something to think about. Specifically, how we can take respon...more
Kare Anderson
Like many other readers perhaps I first heard of Munson's situation when reading her guest piece in The New York Times Modern Love column. The overwhelming number of readers'responses to that "I-Don't-Love-You/I-Don't-Buy-It" column caused the paper to temporarily shut down the comments section for it.

One quickly becomes to care about Laura Munson as she struggles to use what she has been practicing - staying with her strengths and internal equilibrium rather than turning angry or sunken victim...more
I am not certain that I can do justice to this book. It had such a profound impact on my approach to life, to my marriage, that I am still processing what to do with this information. Ms. Munson presents her story in such a forthright manner, her pain and terror at what is occurring in her marriage is palable and at times very uncomfortable to read. I alternated between not wanting to put myself through the anguish but curiosity to see how her philosophy worked in the end. I forced myself to rea...more
Was given this novel by my neighbor who had just completed it. Wasn't expecting much, because I had never heard of it. And last I asked, I think my husband told me he still loved me. But Laura's play-by-play of what must have been one of the most difficult summers of her life ended up giving me a lot to think about. The memoir begins with her husband telling her he doesn't love her and continues forward with Laura's determination not to believe him. Her decision of how to proceed is on grounds n...more
It was good - well you take what you need from it and as long as you can see it in that way it was good. Unlike the author (this was a memoir) I don't have a husband who wants to leave, who doubts his love for me nor is having a midlife crisis. But, it allowed me much thought about the role that expectations play in a marriage and when to speak up and when not to and what to say when you do speak and the importance of finding happiness within.

She asked us to not judge her and her way of handlin...more
Feb 14, 2012 Natalie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Natalie by: my sister
Shelves: memoir, north-america
Any book about an unhappy marriage that has some zen and ends (view spoiler) is alright with me! This book had a more sincere take on intention and desire than all of Eat, Pray, Love. Laura Munson may not get invited to give a TED talk like Elizabeth Gilbert's but that's ok. I don't think she'll mind much.

I always wondered what Eat Pray would have been like if the memoir's narrator had been a mother, maybe now I know?
Wayne Allen
This is one of those books that really resonated with me. It's a book of direct self-reflection, as the author makes her way through of a marriage going off the rails.
With great honesty, Munson opens herself and her process to the reader's scrutiny... while it's not always pretty, it's clear and forceful.
You get to walk alongside the author as she walks the path of self-discovery... and sometimes, that path leads in a direction you never imagine.
I'm a retired counsellor, and this was a "must rea...more
I didn't make it very far into this one. I was curious from the hype it had received and the premise (her husband tells her he doesn't love her and maybe never did, and she tells him she doesn't believe him and goes on to make her own happiness - not sure if they stay together or not)how this would play out as a memoir. I was hoping it wasn't a self-help book filled with encouraging steps for how to take control of your life and be happy, but it had some of that tone to it even though it is a na...more
Kind of torturous. A whiny memoir that had me in disbelief that someone would ever put up with such a self-centered jackass for a husband. I wanted to quit many times but kept reading to see how it would end. Here's a spoiler: she keeps her man but loses herself. Success? I doubt it. This book is a real bummer, because it came so highly recommended. The author is so smug and self-congratulatory for all of her zen strength in allowing her husband's adolescent transgressions just roll off of her;...more
Mari Rydings
Laura Munson wrote this story as her 15-year marriage was unraveling as a way to work through the grief, confusion, anger, and sadness. But it's less about her marriage and more about the choice she made to put an end to self-suffering and to playing the victim. Her tough, sometimes heartbreaking, and often courageous journey made Munson realize that she was the only one responsible for her happiness, for creating her ideal reality. Relying on people, places, and things outside of her control to...more
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Laura Munson is a writer who lives with her family in Montana. She blogs at
More about Laura Munson...
This is Not the Story You Think it is there are saints everywhere, pay attention Mijn seizoen van ongewoon geluk

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“Probably the wisest words that were ever uttered to me. Came from a therapist. I was sitting in her office, crying my eyes out. . . and she said, "So let me get this straight. You base your personal happiness on things entirely out of your control.” 50 likes
“Suffering sucks. Don't do it. Go home and love your wife. Go home and love yourself. Go home
and base your happiness on one thing and one thing only: freedom. Choose freedom, not suffering. Create a life of freedom, not wanting. Have some really good coffee and listen to the red-winged blackbirds in the marsh. Ignore the mosquitoes.”
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