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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,517 ratings  ·  620 reviews
London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide--Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna's unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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cardulelia carduelis I guess you didn't win the giveaway. Probably should go buy it/get it out of the library. You won't be disappointed - it's a stellar read!…moreI guess you didn't win the giveaway. Probably should go buy it/get it out of the library. You won't be disappointed - it's a stellar read!(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  3,517 ratings  ·  620 reviews

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Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aminatta Forna doesn’t just write stories to captivate us for a few hours, she challenges us to think about our homogeneity with the world and how we share this world with other living beings. She invites us to consider our relationships with others, both at a personal and societal level. Should everything that exists have a simple slap-on label? Dogs good! Foxes bad! Bad destroy !!

The main character, Jean, is an urban wildlife biologist, studying wildlife-human coexistence. Several
Diane S ☔
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A Quiet and contemplative novel which begins with a chance meeting on the Waterloo bridge brings together two people, both emotionally wounded. Two people, Jean a woman who studies animals in urban areas and Attila, who is an expert in PTSD in refugees. An unusual friendship will develop between the two, and maybe a hope for more. Although their studies differ in theory, in essence they are both studying the behavior of those, whether animal or human, who were forced out of their natural environ ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction
I was sure I would adore this book - and I enjoyed plenty of it, but parts left me bored and slightly confused. This is a story of chance and coincidence, of strangers meeting and lives slowly changing - and I loved that aspect of it. But it is also a book about animals in urban places - and that I was not so keen on.

Aminatta Forna tells her story slowly and considerately. I had the impression that every word, every sentence was placed very thoughtfully and carefully. While I can appreciate her
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A chance encounter on Waterloo Bridge, London. Theatregoers, en masse, stream out into a sleety night. Heavy foot traffic on Waterloo Bridge startles a fox. Two pedestrians crash with the woman falling to the ground. The gentleman helps her up.

Dr. Attila Asare, a psychiatrist from Ghana, has traveled to London to deliver a keynote speech at a psychiatry conference. For years, Attila has worked in war zones, specializing in trauma experienced by survivors. He is a big man with a hearty appetite.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2018
Aminatta Forna has been established as one of my favourite writers ever since I read The Memory of Love. Two of her other books - The Devil That Danced on the Water and The Hired Man are also among my favourites. So my expectations for this one were very high, and I was not disappointed.

Like The Hired Man this one starts quietly and builds towards a moving resolution. The opening tells of a wolfer (wolf hunter) in Massachusetts in 1834 but most of the book is set in modern London, making this th
“‘Fast food. Fried chicken, burgers, kebabs – the sidewalks have turned into an “all you can eat” buffet for foxes. The same is true in cities the world over.”

Jean has a small grant to study urban foxes in London and supplements it with money earned from “wilding” people’s urban domains, planting vegetable and wildflower gardens on balconies and rooftops. Her business card reads “Jean Turane. Wild Spaces.”

She’s a divorced American with an ex-husband, Ray, a perfectly decent fellow who absolute
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, net-galley, diaspora
3.5 stars
Happiness is a slow burn that took a while to get into at first. Yet there is so much depth to this book that one cannot easily dismiss it. Flashbacks and long ago histories are used to show that coincidence does not exist. Instead Forna chooses to highlight the inter-relatedness of humans to one another and to our environment. In this way Happiness is a love story. One that is honest and tenderly develops over time. Early on we are introduced to Jean, a wildlife biologist studying cani
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Happiness by Aminatta Forna, a Scottish and Sierra Leone writer, is a book that engaged me more cerebrally than emotionally. It grappled with issues regarding environmental conservation, particularly the preservation of urban foxes, as well as the psychology of trauma.

The key characters are Dr. Attila Asare, an eminent psychiatrist from Accra in West Africa, and Jean Turane, an American wildlife biologist stationed in London. They meet when Attila who works in war zones and specializes in trauma
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

review to come!
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very thought provoking book. Is there such a thing as normal? In the West we are sanitised from death to a large extent- bereavement and loss can be all consuming. But in other war torn parts of the world, death can be an everyday part of life. Does trauma necessarily mean that we are damaged? Or does it mean that we are only changed?
“The trouble with happiness, thought Attila, was that, perhaps because infants seemed such happy creatures, people were led to believe that happiness came with a
lark benobi
What a wonderful story. The ending gave me exactly the feeling of that scene in a film where the hero has made a great sacrifice, and now must die alone, as snow is falling. To carry my filmic metaphor to ridiculous lengths I'll add that the whole book feels like an old film that was shot on nitrate-based material, and it has been not well cared for, or properly stored, so there are many scenes that should be there, but the frames have dulled over, or blooms of sepia have obscured a critical sce ...more
Joy D
Happiness is a beautifully written novel about trauma, resilience, cultural differences, coexistence, and the nature of happiness. The author explores these themes through examining conflicts between humans and animals and humans with each other. American wildlife biologist Jean Turane has significant experience with animals and the natural world. She has researched coyotes in the US and is now studying urban foxes in London. Attila Asare has considerable experience treating people in war zones, ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wolf, coyote, fox, human
Trauma, suffering, damage
Happiness, hope

Jean, Attila, London

Doormen, Security men, Street cleaners, A man painted silver

A Study into the urban fox
A keynote conference speech on trauma

Ghana, America

war zones, negotiations, danger,
a hatred of nature, that which man can not control or profit from
loved ones lost

Rosie, Emmanuel
Ama, Tano

Happiness opens with the tale of a wolf hunter in the US called in to track a wolf that is believed to have been killing sheep. He observ
Julie Christine
"How do we become human except in the face of adversity?"

This elegantly written and richly cast novel speaks of adversity, both personal and political, that tests our willingness to greet the world with compassion, to believe in the possibility of happiness.

Attila Asare, a Ghanian psychiatrist and expert on PTSD, and Jean Turane, an American wildlife biologist, meet by chance, and then chance again, in central London. Jean is living in London, conducting a study on the urban fox phenomenon; Att
I'm so conflicted about Happiness. I think there's a really extraordinary novel in here - I just think it occasionally gets too caught up in its meandering structure, and loses focus too often. At its best, it's striking and thought-provoking; at its worst, it's a slog.

Happiness is a quiet, contemplative novel that meditates on themes like trauma, cultural differences, the relationship between humans and animals, and what it means to be happy. The novel begins with a chance encounter between two
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story of serendipity. The chance meeting of two strangers on Waterloo bridge caused by a fox. What follows is a story that transcends time, culture, and what it is to be truely happy.

This is a complicated tale, with an uneasy structure. It travels backwards and forwards between places and people, meaning it can be difficult to commit and get deeply involved with all of the stories. I'm not a fan of this kind of story tel
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would give this a 4.5 if I could. Almost a 5. Almost.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This got under my skin - in a good way.

Attila Asare is a Ghanaian psychiatrist visiting London to deliver a keynote presentation. He's had a career travelling from war zones to battlefields and is a noted expert in post-traumatic recovery. He's a recent widower, is also tending to a former lover who's tumbled into early dementia, and finds himself helping his niece navigate immigration issues and find her son Tano who's disappeared into the city. It's a lot, but Attila is all efficient composur
I just adored this book. It spoke to me on so many levels and I didn't want it to end. But end is inevitable, so as it was drawing to its conclusion I found myself instead wishing I could sit down and have a chat with... the author? ... maybe the character, Attila? I'm not fussy - either would do!

One evening, crossing Waterloo Bridge in London, Jean runs into Attila. Literally, ending up on the ground. She is a divorced American wildlife biologist, living in London while she conducts a study of
An ambitious novel, magnificently executed. I have no idea why I had not heard of Ms Forna before. A joyful moment: discovering an author whose work you appreciate and then finding there's lots more.

Love is a gamble, the stake is the human heart. The lover holds his or her cards close, lays them out one at a time and watches each move of the other player. To whom do you go first? This is the 'tell' of love. When a thing happens, be it good or bad, when you pick up the telephone or push through a
Margaret Mary
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Aminatta Forna just makes you feel happy. Her writing style is so easy to fall into and her characters are likable and the journey with them through the novel is engrossing.

There is an evolving love story between the two main characters, Jean and Atilla but both their backgrounds and separate storylines are also interesting with immigration, elderly living with dementia, and nature-human coexistence all making an appearance.

The observational quality of her writing is great and she does cause us
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a gentle, subtle story about human suffering and resilience. There are some beautiful passages, but I sometimes struggled to see how the parts of the story fit together. Overall, though, this is a moving story about the acceptance of impermanence and the resilience that leads us and the natural world to survive.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
You could accuse Forna of over-reliance on "coincidence" to drive her plot forward. But one of her characters attempts to cover that off for us:

"So … you say it is a coincidence we have met three times. What if I tell you I don’t believe in coincidences? … But what we call coincidences are merely normal events of low probability."

Fundamentally, her character is explaining that if you join the dots leading up to an event, you will see that what might look like a random meeting is, in fact, almost
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
The book has two main protagonists – Attila and Jean.

Attila is Ghanian, a psychiatrist who specialises in PSTD and in particular in the treatment of civilians in war zones. Recently widowed – his wife Maryse dying while he was in Iraq negotiating a hostage release, he is visiting London to speak at a conference. While there he is asked to check on his niece who has lost contact with her family - which quickly turns into a search for her young son after he absconds from temporary foster care aft
Kathryn in FL
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jean is a research biologist, who has moved temporarily to England to do a research project counting the number of foxes living in London. While there, she meets an attractive African Psychiatrist, Attila, who is presenting a keynote speech at a Psychiatric Symposium. He arrives early so that he can make arrangements for his former lover from his college years, who developed early onset Alzheimer's and to check on a niece that no one can reach.

Little does he know that his niece has been erroneo
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The premise of two strangers meeting on Waterloo Bridge because of an urban fox was enough to make me want to read this book. I lived in London for ten years and the city and its fox population have a special place in my heart. And now, so has this lovely beautifully crafted novel.

This is a story of two people who have already had a life. Throughout the book we get glimpses of the past that has shaped them into the people they are in the present. Atilla is a psychiatrist from Ghana, who has hist
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, arc
A lovely great read. When I started highlighting as I read I knew I had found something good. And I did not inundate you with my highlighted updates only because I read an advanced readers copy of this, so consider yourselves spared.

This was my first encounter with Forna and I definitely do not want it to by my last. I like how she writes, how her words are punches in a paragraph and caresses in another. Her ability to see, to join dots is one I want more of.

Happiness, what is it? Shall we find
Robert Sheard
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read – touching, funny, real. I'm surprised this one's not getting more attention. ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do wolves, foxes and immigrants have in common?
In this multi-faceted epic novel about the battle for survival on the margins of society, the author explores issues of tolerance and co-existence against a background of violent culture clashes and territorial disputes around the globe. The two main characters are well fleshed out with convincing back stories and Forna is careful to prevent political posturing or polemic from overwhelming the narration.

With thanks to the publisher for the ARC
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Review copy courtesy of Grove Atlantic via NetGalley, many thanks for the opportunity.

I’ve not read Aminatta Forna’s earlier novel ‘The Memory of Love’, though I saw it on bookshop shelves at the time of publication and admired its cover, but I shall be seeking it out as a matter of urgency as a result of my reading this latest of hers and how interested it has made me in Sierra Leone and its recent history.

This is an educational experience on several levels, giving an insight into the habits
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Aminatta’s books have been translated into eighteen languages. Her essays have appeared in Freeman’s, Granta, The Guardian, LitHub, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The Observer and Vogue. She has written stories for BBC radio and written and presented television documentaries including “The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu” (BBC Television, 2009) and “Girl Rising” (CNN, 2013).

Aminatta is a Fel

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“The reckless open their arms and topple into love, as do dreamers, who fly in their dreams without fear or danger. Those who know that all love must end in loss do not fall but rather cross slowly from the not knowing into the knowing.” 6 likes
“Love is a gamble, the stake is the human heart. The lover holds his or her cards close, lays them out one at a time and watches each move of the other player. To whom do you go first? This is the ‘tell’ of love. When a thing happens, be it good or bad, when you pick up the telephone or push through a crowd, who is it you most want to reach?” 4 likes
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