One of the best books I have read in a long time – The Pursuit of Happiness, by Douglas Kennedy
Manhattan 1945 and US Army journalist Jack Malone gatecrashes a Thanksgiving Eve party. Set amidst the dynamic post-war optimism and subsequent nightmare of the McCarthy witch-hunts, this acclaimed story of love and betrayal is a tale of divided loyalties, decisive moral choices and the random workings of destiny.
I picked up this lovely book from a small hotel in Greece, the owners had a book shelf which encouraged guests to recycle and pass on their vacation reads. I duly placed my 2 novels already consumed on the shelf and picked up this book based on the beauty of it cover, anything that evokes the 1950’s is a sure-fire winner with me.
Having not heard of Douglas Kennedy (I know, where have I been), this was a bit of a literary risk on my part. Especially as there was a whole host of Philippa Gregory books (one of my favorite authors) I have yet to read. I passed those by knowing that I had my eye on a few for another vacation.
I will admit that I didn’t actually turn the first page until I got home from my vacation, the distance this book must have traveled intrigues me, and boy is it worth the luggage space.
Not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Will Smith, Kennedy’s Pursuit of Happiness is a totally compelling story. The pages almost turn themselves, and it’s almost impossible to put down once you start!
The plot twists and turns, and takes you to places where you imagine there is no way out, but Kennedy’s rollercoaster of a book is unpredictable, exciting, and manages to lift the characters out of situations that seem impossible. His ability to write from a woman’s perspective is admiring and absolutely incredible. I found myself getting so lost in this character that I could feel her emotions so vividly, I did cry on several occasions.
Because of the nature of the story, towards the end of the book, you find yourself thinking ‘how much more can this woman take?’ thoughts echoed by Sara (the main character) herself, but her life is portrayed with sensitivity, humor, and a wonderful kind of stoicism that reminds you of the period of history in which the book is set.
It isn’t often that a book truly makes such an impact in my everyday life, but Sara’s story taught me the lessons in strength, humility and funnily, how to manage my money and put my future financial expectations into perspective. Not something you’d expect from a ‘lost love’ type novel, but this is only one of the many surprises this tale will give you.
I recommend adding this book to your reading list now!