Friday, May 21, 2010

Times Have Changed

I have read and enjoyed several Laurie Colwin short stories over the years, so I was sure I would like her novel Happy All The Time. And I don't exactly dislike it – I just don't quite get it. Maybe it's a little dated? It was published in 1978.

The book, set in Manhattan in the 1970's,  is about two best friends – cousins Guido and Vincent – and two marriages. Guido falls in love with Holly, a wealthy, beautiful but decidedly chilly woman who seems to love Guido but has difficulty saying so. Vincent is captivated by the wonderfully named Misty Berkowitz, who, unlike the sunny, optimistic Vincent, is gloomy, crabby and suspicious of happiness. The men vigorously pursue the women, never sure their love is reciprocated, never certain of what is going on in the women's minds. Both couples marry and despite some minor setbacks, lead happy lives. 

Maybe in the midst of the Woman's Movement these seemed like healthy male/female relationships, but they feel very unrealistic in today's light. I have nothing but admiration for independent women, but 'independent' doesn't equate with sullen or withdrawn. And don't even talk to me about 'plucky'.

Colwin is a witty and accomplished writer, but maybe I should stick to her short stories. Has anyone else read a Laurie Colwin novel that they loved?

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