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Happy All the Time

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,079 ratings  ·  433 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 be difficult, quirky, and hard to live with. He loves her on sight. Vin ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 16th 2000 by Harpperen (first published September 12th 1978)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  3,079 ratings  ·  433 reviews


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Glenn Sumi
Apr 06, 2015 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
...more
Amanda
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Joe Vallese
Jun 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Dana
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This little novel is, by far, the happiest, most delightful little gem you will ever read. I originally read it in the late 1970's when it was written. I always remembered that I loved it, but had long forgotten the story and its characters. I requested that my library find a copy for me. 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 60+ years o ...more
Suzy
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
...more
Rodica
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love beautiful things. I love stories told stylishly. This is a charming, intelligent and superbly witty book about intelligent and stylish characters. I got it through Prime reading, but I’ll probably end up buying it just to make sure I have my own copy available, for whenever I feel like rereading it.

Loved it, pure and simple. First of all, Colwin has the gift or writing about serious deep stuff in a lighthearted manner. She is also a master at describing her characters without judging and
...more
Angie
Aug 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Tucker
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’m so happy that this charming, insightful, and absolutely delightful novel has been reissued. Laurie Colwin was a brilliant writer and I only wish she’d had many more years and many more books.

Thank you to Open Road Integrated Media and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
Pamela
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

IT SURE ISN'T!

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
...more
John McAndrew
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Kathryn
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
christa
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Eileen
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jason McKinney
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Amy
Sep 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Kathleen
Aug 03, 2011 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
David
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shelley
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is funny in a grown-up way. I can't decide if I should cheer or die of envy.
Molly Stawarz
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The happiest little book I’ve read in a long time.
Nichole
Only 2 stars for my first Laurie Colwin book

I opened Happy All the Time with a huge sense of expectancy. The late Laurie Colwin was acclaimed for her smart and quirky domestic fiction. I looked forward to her writing.

Laurie Colwin's phrases really captured the warm minutiae of family life, of life itself, and I enjoyed highlighting those passages. Her style was clever and eccentric. Witty. In spite of those positives, however, something vital was missing. The storytelling was dry and detached;
...more
Melanie
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, fiction
This is a story about two friends - who also happen to be third cousins - and the women they marry. This was relatively enjoyable to read but I really think this book would be best as a book club pick. It lends itself to discussion about marriage and relationships and the ways we know and don't know the people we're closest to. I liked that this book was literary and still happy. I feel like much of the family/relationship-focused literary fiction that has come out in the past few years is based ...more
Nancy McKibben
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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: reviewed, favorites
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
...more
Megan Tucker
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This book stressed me out.

The writing is SO beautiful. The dialogue is delightful. The characters and relationships are fascinating, despite their privilege and superfluity.

But that's what stressed me out: the privilege and superfluity. While this book is gorgeous...it's a book for middle to upper class white people. The characters have no real hardships beyond figuring out how to be in love. I finished the final page, closed the book, and stated aloud in shock: Wait. They literally were happy.
...more
William
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This may not be a great book, but it is a great read. I know what's less than perfect about it (and I will get to that) but it was so much fun that I could not put it down.

It's interesting that the few goodreads.com reviews I checked wanted to compare this book to someone else's work or some other genre. But none made the same comparison. That's a tribute to the distinctiveness of Colwin's writing.

To me, this reads like a British comedy of manners, but in a very American way. (You don't find a l
...more
KrisAnne
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, I gotta start keeping track of where I even hear about the books I put on my "to-read" list. Who the heck recommended Laurie Colwin to me? I loved this. I mean, look, it's basically a book about two well-to-do educated white NY couples in maybe the early 70s, so if you feel like you've read enough books about people in that demographic you can skip this one. Once I got past that I just truly enjoyed how straightforward and funny the writing is, plus the four main characters are nicely compl ...more
Taylor
I feel almost embarrassed giving this book 5 stars. If someone asked me why I loved it so much and if they then read it based on my recommendation, they would think I am a fool. Well, at least that is certain: that I am a fool for matters of the heart.

How did I stumble upon Happy All the Time , you ask? Well, Ann Hood wrote Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food to which she likened Colwin's writing to something that is associated with comfort. Having finished this book -- my first venture
...more
Adrienne
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book about "modern" relationships has been hovering on the edge of my consciousness since 1978 and I'm really glad that I finally got around to reading it. It is a wonderful story about two unlikely couples and all the ways they have to navigate the perils of love and marriage in the latter half of the 20th century when gender roles were changing rapidly.

It is full of quotable passages and one of my favorites was this one (spoken by an extremely prickly person): "She sat reflecting on the
...more
Nick Crowley
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pleasant read with some laugh out loud funny moments.

I interpreted Happy All the Time as an illustration of how men struggled to communicate and deal with women as women gained financial, social, and cultural independence during the 1960s and 70s in the United States. The men in this book, well-meaning, intelligent though they were, still struggled to adapt to the changing mores brought on by the rising tide of feminism. Both Vincent and Guido agonize over their respective love interests. Neith
...more
Fiona
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The whole atmosphere of this novel was Kafkaesque (although I've admittedly only read one of Kafka's novels :).......but what to say about Happy All The Time? I couldn't relate to these characters - the men confused and unable to understand themselves or their wives, despite almost constant navel-gazing. The women; purposefully mysterious, disengaged, and either unable or unwilling to connect to their feelings. They just didn't seem real to me, and they were so self-absorbed that I found it hard ...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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“Marriage, it turned out, was a series of small events.” 3 likes
“Holly sat down, as if at home. But, Guido wondered, would she be happy where there were no trays?” 1 likes
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