Erin's Reviews > Happiness Sold Separately

Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
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's review
Sep 11, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: chick-lit
Read from April 11 to 13, 2010

There's a need in many of us to want a "Happily Ever After" stamp on a story, even if that's not authentic to the story being told, just because it makes us feel better. There's also need to look at situations in black and white and in certain situations, cast someone as the villain. Winston, who wrote the tender and charming Good Grief, resists both of those reactions, which I think takes some skill and a little nerve.

The book starts with the reader learning two things immediately: married couple Elinor and Ted are having problems with infertility, and Elinor discovers her husband Ted is having an affair. The trauma of both of these events on a marriage is devastating, and yet Winston finds sympathy and humor for all her characters. Even though Ted's cliched affair happens with young, sexy fitness trainer Gina, she gets a three-dimensional treatment too. Ted's not painted as a bad guy, he's just made bad decisions and he's lonely. Elinor would be infuriated, if she just weren't so defeated and emotionally exhausted by the infertility issues. And Elinor is no saint--she just can't deal with being a wife to Ted and wonders what happened to her sense of humor. Winston clearly paints how difficult it is for a marriage to survive not just the infidelity, but the cause of it when two people have been through the ringer together. Sympathetic and deftly written, she takes an honest look at a marriage that might have hit the point of no return, and that's no one's fault, really. The worst part of it's just life. I appreciated the complexity of the story and love the way Winston writes. She just seems to understand people and their actions, both good and bad.

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