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Happy All the Time

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,757 Ratings  ·  242 Reviews
Guido and Vincent are childhood best friends—third cousins, really—living in Cambridge and dreaming about their futures. Guido plans to write poetry while Vincent feels confident he will win a Nobel prize for physics. When Guido spots Holly while exiting a museum, he can immediately sense that she will difficult, quirky, and hard to live with. He loves her on sight. Vincen ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Vintage (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Glenn Sumi
Jan 14, 2016 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book I’ve read by the wonderful writer Laurie Colwin, who died tragically young – she was only 48 years old – in 1992. Her work, although a little dated, deserves to be discovered by a new generation.

I see I’ve rated all of her books 4 stars. They’re uniformly modest and lovely, but perhaps not life-changing.

Her fictional subject (she also wrote bestselling books about food) tends to be romance in urban settings among middle- and upper-middle-class people. She cherishes happy
Joe Vallese
Jul 10, 2007 Joe Vallese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My experience reading this novel was really strange. When I was a senior in high school, I read a short story called "An Old Fashioned Romance" by Colwin in my AP class. I remember being struck, and a little disappointed, by how bright and optimistic the story was - up to that point, I'd understood stories as ominous and never happy. Then I read her author bio and it said that she graduated from Bard in the 70s and, I of course, was going to attend Bard that summer. Long story short, I was alway ...more
Jan 28, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colwin's "project" in this, and the other works of hers I've read, seems to revolve around picking up the story of love where most novelists leave off: she's interested in what happy marriages and established friendships look like. The conflict she's primarily concerned with is the resistance people have to contentment, and their fear of its loss. Happily, the characters struggling with accepting happiness are usually married (literally or figuratively) to characters who have a talent for enjoyi ...more
Pure delight! The story of two friends, Guido and Vinent, who live and work in New York City. They find love, marry (Holly and Misty, respectively) and experience the hopes, dreams, anxieties and challenges associated with moving into adulthood. That sounds sort of boring, but this book is anything but. As one reviewer said, this book takes up where most love stories leave off - at the settling in and finding contentment stage. Touching, quirky and funny, it made me happy!!

This is the second ti
Dec 05, 2013 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little novel, is by far the happiest, most delightful little gem you will ever read. I read it, originally, in the late 1970's when it was written. I always remembered that I loved it, but had long forgotten the story and it's characters. I requested that my library find a copy for me, and luckily, they rounded one up from several counties away! I am smiling like a fool, having just now finished it again. There is no other novel I have ever read, and I believe I have read thousands in 50+ y ...more
Aug 30, 2010 Pamela rated it really liked it
When I picked up my copy of Happy All the Time and saw the sad girl peeling pears on the cover, I was like, "Here we go. Time to delve into the depressing inner lives of searching young adults." Having just finished a few Lorrie Moore stories from Birds of America, I was sure that the title of Colwin's novel was ironic.


Two couples meet cute, quip, and live happily ever after. Seriously.

I'm not immune to a charming narrative like this. The conversational wit sparkles on the page w
Aug 12, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-uns
Last month Old school librarian suggested I read HAPPY ALL THE TIME by Laurie Colwin. I had not heard of the book or the author before and was very interested to discover what was in store. Fortunately, my local library had a copy readily available. Originally published back in 1978, HAPPY ALL THE TIME was the third of Colwin's five novels. Along with a few short story and cooking collections, those novels made up the bulk of her writing. It seems strange now that I'd never heard of her before a ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Laurie Colwin was actually her own image of Misty, then I'm sadder than ever that she's dead.

I can see people with a fierce desire for "plot" and "story" having a hard time with this, but the writing itself is so swift and good that I personally don't care. The point is not to complete some grand story; the point is that the story ("story") is continual and pervasive, happening and happening and happening. In some ways, this reads like a theatrical piece, with characters grouped into pairs or
Sep 15, 2011 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Antof9
While I could have finished this had I soldiered on, I gave myself permission to abandon it. Life is too short to sludge through books you don't enjoy.

I don't know if it was someone else's comment that this book reminded them of a mix between The Great Gatsby and Breakfast at Tiffany's or just the vagaries of my own mind, but I kept thinking Happy All the Time was set somewhere in the 1920's to 1940's time period. Then, as I was reading, a comment about computers or something would remind me it
John McAndrew
Mar 14, 2013 John McAndrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been years since I read this book, but it has stayed with me all this time, and I'm thinking it may be time to re-read it. It's a story about couples who get along and are "happy all the time." Sounds boring, right? That's because our concept of a happy relationship is both one-dimensional and an utter fantasy. These folks argue, have problems and crises . . . and get through them together, with a baseline of respect and affection for each other. Not easy, not Disneyfied, but real. If recen ...more
Kim Fay
Jan 28, 2012 Kim Fay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is it that I have not reviewed this book before now? For many years, it was a tradition that for the first book of the new year, I would read "Happy All The Time." This story of two couples is so light-filled and nuanced and clever -- I simply take great pleasure in reading it and enjoy being reminded that life can be quite lovely, indeed. Laurie Colwin has a dry (and subtle wicked wit), which is what gives this novel its depth. Yes, the world portrayed in this book is sheltered, but sometim ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Sub_zero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2015
Repleto de líneas brillantes, diálogos dinámicos, personajes completamente fascinantes dada su complejidad y un estilo que conjuga a la perfección sobriedad y sensibilidad literaria, Tantos días felices es una obra realmente sorprendente e imbuida de una personalidad desbordante. No se trata de una historia vertiginosa ni lacrimógena; al contrario, no puede ser más cotidiana, anticlimática y argumentalmente austera. Además, resulta extraño el mensaje optimista que transmite, dadas las circunstan ...more
Jason McKinney
This is the book that Jane Austen would have written if she had lived in NYC in the 1970's. Having said that, if you had described it that way to me before I read it, I would have thought that I would love it. Not so much...

This reminded me a bit of When Harry Met Sally... but not nearly as entertaining. It's certainly well written, but there's just something about it that left me bored and really not interested in these characters. As someone else on GR put it, I felt like I really couldn't rel
Jul 22, 2012 christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some writers who are good enough to disregard plot in favor of a collection of quirky characters slinging each other with cute conversation. See also: Laurie Colwin, whose 1978 novel Happy All the Time is simply the story of third cousins tip-toeing from bachelorhood to couplehood and the difficult targets who change everything they believe to be true about women. What, in theory, could reek of a banter-y rom-com with a “Gilmore Girls” preciousness is smart and lively and potentially s ...more
Aug 11, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful, surprising, genuine and touching story about four people who fall in love. Guido and Vincent are cousins and best friends. Guido falls for Holly and Vincent falls for Misty. So, not only is romantic love developing but the connected friendships need to develop, too, if they are going to be four pals rather than two friends and their awkwardly tolerated spouses.

What I appreciated about this story is that there are no huge disasters or tragedies. That doesn't mean that the character
May 19, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Utterly brilliant; a joy from first page to last. What a genius Laurie Colwin was to write a book about four people falling in love and just being happy (no big dramas here) and to make that not only compelling but full of wisdom and wit. The comparisons to Jane Austen are both apt and wholly deserved.
Jul 13, 2009 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is funny in a grown-up way. I can't decide if I should cheer or die of envy.
Nancy McKibben
Dec 13, 2012 Nancy McKibben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who love a smart novel written by a smart, generous writer
Recommended to Nancy by: after I read a book of her short stories, I sought out and read all her novels
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
Happy All the Time
By Laurie Colwin

I love Laurie Colwin. I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I love her books, but she is one of those authors whom you feel you know through her books, especially as she wrote several books of food essays as well as five novels and two books of short stories. Unhappily, she died in 1992 when she was only in her early forties, and the tributes written by her readers (you can find them on the web) show how greatly she is missed.

Happy All the Time begins like th
Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin is an offbeat story of friendship, love and relationships between 4 eccentric individuals, set in mid-1970s Cambridge MA and New York City.

Guido Morris and Vincent Cardworthy are third cousins, lifelong friends in their late twenties.

"At college they fooled around, spent money, and wondered what would become of them when they grew up. Guido intended to write poetry in heroic couplets and Vincent thought he might eventually win the Nobel Prize for physics."

Deirdre Keating
Jul 25, 2009 Deirdre Keating rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deirdre by: Lori Pickert
Shelves: fiction
I wanted to love this one, but I can only muster liking it. I'm knee deep in Colwin this month, having just finished her Home Cooking and already started her short story collection (the Frank & Billy love story)---and I like both of those more than this novel.

Of course I adore a story of a pessimistic, neurotic girl who falls for an optimistic guy with a simple outlook on life;-) That story line all rang true. However his cousin, whom I liked, and his wife Holly, seemed anachronistic---did s
Jun 05, 2015 Princess rated it liked it
Shelves: recommended-read
I'm wary whenever I read books like this: books that purport to tell a universal story - this one, for example, is supposed to describe a modern romance; it is meant to delineate what it means to love, or fail to be loved. And yes, on the one hand, here are four convincingly drawn characters; four quirky and relatable people. On the other hand, every character is white; all four have had privileged educations and upbringings; this is not a story that I can claim easily as my own.

So my instinct i
Aug 19, 2009 Jhoanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cheery-reading
The ladies at the used bookstore up the street loved this writer. I'd never heard of her, but decided I had to check it out since the New York Times says "it abounds in good lines, aphorisms, advice to both the loved and the lovelorn."

It's more of a romp than a book, about two best friends who meet and marry the women of their dreams. Of course the women drive them crazy - one is a doer and feeler but not a talker, the other is a self-described porcupine. It was published in 1978 and it's a wond
Andrea Blythe
Feb 02, 2011 Andrea Blythe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This is a book about love happening between four generally good, intelligent, and interesting people. The men are good, genuine men, who love their women deeply. The women are smart, sassy, classy women. The story that unfolds is gentle and funny, a kind of comedy of manners in which the characters say clever things you wish you could think to say. The book transpires like a good relationship or marriage, there are moments of great happiness and there are moments of great sorrow or pain, but thr ...more
Apr 11, 2016 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este libro te deja tan buen sabor de boca que le perdonas todo: apenas hay trama, apenas empiezas a conocer a los perdonajes, apenas engancha; pero no puedes dejar de leerlo, es así de contradictorio.
Feb 02, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone recently recommended Laurie Colwin, as an old favorite, an author whose books she'd loved. And I can sort of see the charm-- there's a clear sense of place and privilege in the writing, an apt description of who these people are and what motivates them.

But the precious writing style grew tedious, even smug. An overdose of clever. It also feels dated, but that was interesting, in an anthropological way.

I have books like this-- authors I once loved whose work I now find less attractive. I
Aug 09, 2011 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book a few months after I had a stillborn baby and was struggling with depression and the grief. The title of the book drew me in because I was so desperately unhappy at the time. I loved this book and the fact of my introduction to Laurie Colwin. I devoured each of her books as they were published, including Home Cooking. My favorite is probably Shine On Bright And Dangerous Object. I remember specifically where I was when I learned she had died. I felt like I had just lost a ...more
Kenyon Harbison
Jan 11, 2010 Kenyon Harbison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a generally happy book, about generally happy people. There is no gore, no death that people must cope with, no shocking revelation, I don't even think there is any infidelity or job loss. In short, there is none of the oft-contrived melodrama that drives many plots forward and that makes for cliched exclamatory jacket copy. The focus here is on the beauty of Colwin's language. Think of it almost as an extended narrative poem about happiness, demonstrating happiness, rather than as a nov ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Florencia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florencia by: Suzy's review
Jun 06, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and found it to be very beautiful, very original, and very, very funny. Colwin's comic timing is perfect. I agree with the reviewer who compared it to a narrative poem, and I liked another reviewer's tradition of re-reading this book every new year. Most good books that I read leave me with a feeling of sadness or loss; this book strangely left me feeling like I could finish the story in my own life, in my own time. This is my first Colwin book, and I am looking forward to read ...more
Ronald Koltnow
Mar 18, 2016 Ronald Koltnow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Colwin has a definite New York sensibility; frequently compared to Cheever and Updike, her predecessor may be Peter DeVries. She is Jane Austen in yuppie-ville. If love is a butterfly, splendid and rare, Colwin is the lepidopterist pinning it to a board to study it in detail. By turns honest and funny, with a touch of heart-warmth for good measure, HAPPY ALL THE TIME is a study in the over-analysis of emotion. "Love ... is not at all like science," muses Vincent Cardworthy, smitten with t ...more
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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.
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