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Happy All the Time (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – March 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“A wise, bighearted book by a wise, bighearted writer. A deft and funny one, too.” —The Washington Post

“A luminous telling of two modern romances, a book that lingers sweetly and hilariously in the memory.” —Dallas Morning News

“Abounds in good lines, aphorisms, advice to both the loved and the lovelorn.” —The New York Times
“An elegant, fresh, funny tale of four people in love…. There’s electricity here... pure delight.” —Village Voice
“A pleasure…. Endless surprises and ultimately boundless joy…. It would be difficult not to enjoy it all!” —The New Yorker
“Colwin’s view of the world is comic with a subtle sense of sadness, and her love for even her most intractable characters does not keep her from laughing at their expense.” —The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
“[Laurie Colwin] handles feeling as cunningly as Ann Beattie and Frederick Barthelme handle numbness.” —Los Angeles Times
“If Laurie Colwin were an artist instead of a writer, she would be a maker of those small, delicious drawings dropped into the text of The New Yorker. . . . She is a master of lovely incidentals—the curve of the belly of a pitcher, the color of a blue Staffordshire plate, the comfort of ‘nursery’ food on cold days.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Colwin is ingenious, comedic, and spirited.” —The Boston Globe
“[Colwin’s] novels . . . have great charm—a charm that comes from a calm, witty and observant world view and her engaging writing style. She describes normal life with normal people; she writes about love, relationships and families. She illuminates modern urban romance. She looks at the way husbands and wives, brothers and sisters—and, almost inevitably in a Colwin novel, extramarital lovers—deal with each other. It might be boring if not for the acuteness of her insight.” —Buffalo News
“A truly wonderful writer.” —The Orlando Sentinel
“Colwin writes with such sunny skill, and such tireless enthusiasm.” —Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review
“The successor to Dorothy Parker and Dawn Powell.” —Roger Friedman
“A writer of originality and vision.” —San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels—Happy All the Time; Family Happiness; Goodbye Without Leaving; A Big Storm Knocked It Over; and Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object—three collections of short stories—Passion and Affect; The Lone Pilgrim; and Another Marvelous Thing—and two collections of essays, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. Colwin died in 1992.

Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307474402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307474407
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Lore on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Laurie Colwin's _Happy All the Time_ is less a comedy of manners than a comedy of the mannerisms, quirks, and idiosyncracies of four very unique friends and lovers.
Guido and Vincent (rather WASP-y, the Italian nomenclature comes from a couple of generations back) are cousins and fellow graduate students when the novel opens, perfectly situated for finding their lifemates. When Guido sees Holly in an art gallery he narrates his observations about her to Vincent. "Notice how the nose tilts," he says, and later, "Notice the arc of the arm."
"Notice the feeblemindedness that passes for wit among aging graduate students," she replies, thus setting into motion a story full of wonderful zingy dialogue as pessimists pair up with optimists and love ensues.
Published originally in 1978, _Happy All the Time_ paints both of the primary women in bold colors. Misty is a linguist, frighteningly intelligent, and determined not to let Vincent's optimism capsize her ship. Holly is self-contained and self-determined, making her own decisions without consultation with Guido, whose great passion for her leaves him in a perpetual state of befuddlement. The book is indicative of the era it's placed in, as women behave in ways which have not been modelled for them, and the men adjust their expectations accordingly. From a feminist point of view, that makes this book an interesting read.
From an escapist's point of view, this book is highly entertaining, light but not too fluffy, and thoroughly enjoyable. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys Nora Ephron movies, Bridget Jones-type books, and satisfying endings.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer E Hughes on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
There are not enough words to describe how much I adore Laurie Colwin. I have read all of her novels and am deeply saddened by her untimely death and the knowledge that there will be no more delightful novels by my favorite author! This was my first Colwin novel and, as soon as I finished it, I set to reading all of her other books in quick succession. There is something so utterly comforting and insightful about all of her novels and stories that feels to me like I am coming home. She makes me yearn for a New England fall and cozy apartments with a fireplace and the one you love. Her characters are so idiosyncratic that you can't help but love them and all their foibles. I have spent numerous rainy days re-reading Laurie Colwin and I believe, once you discover her, that you will do the same!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By on January 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Guido and Vincent are cousins and best friends. Guido marries Holly, Vincent marries Misty. In the midst of this cosy foursome are a diverse assortment of friends, family, and acquaintances whose off-beat personalities are so realistic that the reader forgets these are only characters in a novel.. "Happy All the Time" is one of those rare books that you hate to see end. These are the kind of people we'd like to have in our own lives.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Angela Thompson VINE VOICE on August 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
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 as her novels have none of them ever gone out of print and it appears she still has quite a large and devoted following. A fact I completely understand and that makes me quite happy now, having read this perfectly delightful novel. Thank goodness for others' book recommendations, for I am quite sure I would never have stumbled across this treat of a book on my own.

Guido Morris. Holly Sturgis. Vincent Cardworthy. Misty Berkowitz. These are the rather enchanting names of the four principal players in our little drama. Guido and Vincent have been cousins and best friends since as far back as either of them can remember. Gifted with both privilege and personality, talent and wit, the two men have somehow managed to make it past graduate school and into bona fide adulthood without ever forming permanent or lasting attachments with members of the opposite sex. But all of that is about to change when they walk past a young woman with black hair and a composed face, sitting on a bench, and Guido falls instantly and madly in love. But Holly is not looking for love and Guido finds himself in the unfamiliar agony of being in love with someone who appears all but indifferent to him. Meanwhile, Vincent is coming to terms with his scattered and perplexing love life the hard way.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
In the last 15 or so years, I've read this book perhaps 25 or 30 times. Each time I'm drawn into the story of four people. Laurie Colwin, who died much, much too young, had the most wonderful ability to create vivid and real characters you care about. Her warmth, wit and humor are sorely missed. There's no one who writes like she did.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Manola Sommerfeld on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read her last novel, _A Big Storm Knocked it Over_ first. I loved it. This one is great too. One thing i noticed is how she likes a certain type of characters to figure in her works: the slimy boss, the garden-lover mother-in-law, the gourmet cook.
Her sense of flow is great. The ending came up easily, and i was perfectly satisfied with it.
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