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This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness Hardcover – April 1, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A kind of colloquial diary composed during the rocky summer her husband was suffering a midlife crisis, debut author Munson aims to convince the reader, in her chatty, self-absorbed narrative, that her hard-won serenity helped conquer her husband's shakiness at committing himself to their future together. When her husband (who remains nameless) announced his uncertainty that he loved her, then embarked on bizarrely atypical behavior, leaving her and their two children, eight and 12, wondering where he was, Munson had her own notions about what was ailing him, reinforced by mountains of self-help books and therapists: his job was failing, he was drowning in debt, and he was worried about losing their fabulous 20-acre horse-and-ski farm in rural Montana. Munson hoped he could regain a sense of gratitude for what they had, namely 15 years of a loving family. Munson urged her husband to take a trip, as she had just returned from a month-long rejuvenating stint to Italy, or even helicopter lessons, yet his resentment of her ran deeper than she cared to confront. She concentrated on what she could control, namely creating a nice home and throwing herself into community activism, then witnessed with joy her husband's gradual coming around. Unfortunately, Munson's journey doesn't ring entirely convincing or forthright, and if the title truly reflected her marital crisis, the reader might run the other way. (Apr.)
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Review

"Laura Munson takes the spiritual stuff and the personal stuff and the love stuff and the pain stuff and she brews them all together in a very fun and touching memoir. I'm a fan. This is a wonderful book."
-Marianne Williamson

"This Is Not the Story You Think It Is is true to its title. The book took me by surprise. I read it in one sitting and loved Munson's tone, wit, wisdom and writing."
-Anita Shreve

"Let me tell you what this book is about. This is a book about saying yes. It's the story of Laura Munson's alchemical ability to create abundance and bounty in the face of scarcity and abandonment-no small triumph. Filled with gems big and small. . . Munson is a wonderful guide-wise, brave, and tenaciously honest."
-Melanie Gideon, author of The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After

"This book is fabulous. Laura Munson's noble quest to become the source of her own happiness will take you by the hand and heart as it guides you through the steps to living a life without suffering. Her story pulls back the curtain on the only magic we ever need to know: how to make the shift from fear to love."
-Arielle Ford, author of The Soulmate Secret

"Laura Munson's powerful and buoyant book gives us wisdom in generous slices. But it is Munson's abilities as a storyteller that show us how to discover-how to find and feel-the real wisdom that may arise from our lives, as messy and heartbreaking as they may be. Woman, wife, mother, neighbor-this fine writer converts her own life's journeys into a series of vignettes so focused and compelling, so heartbreaking, sometimes so funny, that they resound with the force of parables."
-David Baker, poetry editor of "The Kenyon Review"

"Laura Munson has served up a whopping portion of sanity. This book has the potential to start a cultural revolution."
-Leif Peterson, author of Catherine Wheels and Normal Like Us

"I loved this book. It's unusual, memorable and wry, laugh-out-loud funny too."
-Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Crazy Love and Mommy Wars
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Adult HC/TR (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399156658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399156656
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jody TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nine hours after announcing that he's not sure he loves her any more, Laura Munson's husband has not yet returned home from an errand, and she's in some doubt if and when he ever will. It's clear this is not going to be a warm and fuzzy memoir and yes, it's written in present tense. Ms. Munson is very honest in saying she's not sure how the story will end. The only thing she is sure of is that her tormented husband will not get to decide how and when their relationship will end and that she can choose to not suffer, no matter what the outcome. She invites the reader to go along with her on her journey, and it's an unusual and adventurous one, though not always pretty.

The reader becomes Munson's confidante and with her, experiences the disappointment, rage, and hurt caused by her husband's thoughtlessness, but we also discover the joy that comes from the realization that while we can't always control events, we can control our reactions to them. Munson recognizes her husband's pain, and somehow she manages to give him the space he needs to heal, while guarding her own well being as well as that of their children. It's not easy, and her life becomes a series of little battles as she protects her children, maintains her own career, keeps the household running while being compassionate about her husband's state of mind without getting sucked into it. Somehow she also upholds her vow to be happy and not suffer. It helps that she's a writer, has a great therapist, and a few trustworthy and non-judgmental friends and her own interests as well as living in a place of great beauty, with twenty acres, two ponds, a horse, four gardens and two great children, though she thoroughly makes her point that pain is pain, no matter what the economic context.
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Format: Hardcover
I suppose congratulations are in order to the author for finally getting a book published. Even if it is not very well written. (It was actually painful at times to read something that read like an above average 16 year old wrote it). To her credit, the author does TRY to mock herself and her husband for their grandiose pretensions that they have somehow created a more special life than anyone else... particularly anyone else from their very privileged *families of origin*. We are constantly reminded that: a) at least one of them is descended from Mayflower passengers ; they come from affluent backrounds and attended the best schools; and that she has heirloom china, crystal and silver. All of which has made her treasure *beauty*. Because no one raised in modest families of origin could possibly appreciate the beauty of Steuben crystal or Haviland and Herend china or grow a garden of roses and herbs or smell mint properly. She congratulates herself and her husband for *rejecting* the social status they were born into as they forge a new life in the western part of the country. Doing the very trendy and cliche thing of *writing* (fruitlessly) managing a microbrewery, having horses, 20 acres of land and a kitchen with marble counters and stainless steel appliances and an *Italian stove*. Completely oblvious to the fact that they did the *trendy thing* of Seattle, Montana, Wyoming et al. that everyone else in their age group was doing. In other words, they are living the cliche of their particular generation's search for the same status their parents sought when they joined the country clubs in suburban Chicago and New York. (I am reminded of a niece of mine and her husband ...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I was really excited to read this book after finding the original article, "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear," so mesmerizing. But Ms. Munson should have stopped there. Her talent lies in short, witty, vulnerable prose, but when she extends it to the length of a book, it just doesn't fly. It feels like a writing assignment that has been padded with all kinds of fluff so it would meet the required number of pages.

Her journal is choppy and self-indulgent, and she is embarrassingly disconnected with reality. I find it hard to relate to someone who constantly complains about their massive debt and financial situation, yet travels to Italy, has a horse and a boat, and never considers getting a paying job. She doesn't even seem remotely interested in where the money is coming from to buy the organic vegetables she uses for canning tomato sauce, a process we had to read about ad nauseum as she tried to paint a picture of what a great mother looks like. And she is annoyingly self-important, talking about her gift of "creating beauty around her," as if the rest of the world is full of hacks who have no idea how to arrange flowers or set a table.

I did not find Ms. Munson to be an empathetic or relatable person in this book. Although her husband is equally unattractive given his bad behavior, I found myself rooting for him to make the break so he wouldn't have to listen to how awesome she is for the rest of his life, strutting around the house in her chaps and arranging her grandma's silver. I continued reading the book in hopes that there would be some pearls of wisdom somewhere (there weren't). Finally, an "end to suffering" when I finished it.
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