Pippa James comes to the blog with a story full of friendship, life and the ups and downs in
The Happiness Project
Having not read I Will Survive, which introduces the three main characters in this story the three women Alison, Kate and Frankie jump right into this story on New Year’s Eve, just after Alison lost her mother-in-law. With Kate, now newly pregnant and Frankie, newly unemployed, these three catch up with one another at the school gates, and in the in-between times when time, babysitters and life allows. And these three are rather solidly defined in their personalities: Alison is organized within an inch of her (and everyone’s) life with a plan for everything and a place for every plan. Frankie is the single mum who has taken the ‘failure’ label to the next level in terms of her confidence – but is bold, self-determined and unwilling to let anyone or anything take advantage of those she cares about. Lastly there is Kate – with her two children and one on the way she’s more the caretaker, the people pleaser and nurturing one who manages to keep her finger in every pie, even if she’s exhausted.
The three have decided to make resolutions for the new year – resolutions that will be both a challenge and a step away from their ‘comfort zone’. With Alison organizing Frankie’s CV, Frankie’s found a new job that has potential for upward mobility, with solid ideas, if an allergy to organizing and ‘trying to adult” don’t get in her way. Kate’s reconnected with a former girlfriend of her husband’s best friend – and finding her “I know everything about Earth Mother living even though I’ve never had a child proclamations to be judgy – and fueling her own ‘bad mum’ guilt. And we have Alison who’s trying on different things to see if they ‘fit’ in an effort to stretch her own personal experiences. Strangest of all, these three are building a friendship that is truly based in little more than being the “outsiders’ in the PTA mums – and proximity seems to make all the difference.
There are no huge ‘aha’ moments for any of them – and quite frankly – everyone is so busy hiding their worries and ‘bad mum’ moments that the time to really share the deeply personal stuff between them is missing, and that left this story feeling more like a year in the life, with Frankie actually making the biggest tangible strides, while both Katie and Alison found little victories and moments. What James does really well is show the ups and downs of relationships, adulting, friendships and self-belief in ways that feel plausible, if a bit frantic at times. A solid book that would have done better by establishing the connections between the three, or making it very clear that this was the second featuring these characters.
Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Pippa James
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Friendship, Setting: Britain
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 12 February, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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1) Exercise more
2) Eat healthily
3) Learn how to live again…
Forty-year-old Alison Lund has always carefully planned everything in her well-ordered life, from colour co-ordinating her beautiful house to persuading her excitable son Alexander that sticker charts are more fun than misbehaving. But Alison’s perfect world has just fallen apart…
Her head is left spinning when her beloved larger than life mother-in-law, Maggie, passes away and Alison is left heartbroken. Every afternoon they’d talk and laugh over a pot of tea, she was the glue that kept Alison together through the first few tough years of motherhood. And now Alison is trying to figure out a future without her.
With a little help from her two best friends, Alison resolves to be more Maggie. After an emotional New Year’s Eve get together, the three women create a happiness project, challenging themselves to step outside their comfort zones and make the most of every single day.
Daring to do things differently, can Alison learn to live more spontaneously and find happiness along the way? Or will letting go be harder than she ever imagined?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.