The Sad Truth About Happiness

The Sad Truth About Happiness

A Novel

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
Rate this:

A beautiful and affecting novel -- bittersweet and comic -- on the elusive nature of happiness

Maggie is in her early thirties, gainfully employed, between relationships, and ready for change -- although not in the ways or to the degree that unfolds in Anne Giardini's The Sad Truth About Happiness.

Maggie's roommate, Rebecca, devises questionnaires for women's magazines, and she is convinced her newest quiz can predict the exact date of death of anyone who answers the questions honestly. When Maggie tries the test, she learns that she is scheduled to die before her next birthday -- the fact that she has answered "No" to the question "Are you happy?" appears to have shaved decades off her life. Only if Maggie can become happy in her three remaining months can she perhaps prevent the prediction from coming true.

With wry comedy, Maggie's life becomes considerably more complicated from that very moment, since her quest for happiness attracts both admirers and challenges. The true test comes when, through a mad tangle of circumstance, Maggie finds herself on the run with her sister Lucy's newborn son. The often unexpected power of friendships and family, the universal pull toward a home, and a more intense relationship with the world all leave Maggie and the reader with a new awareness of the evanescent joys of happiness, which we all long for, but can seldom seek directly or hold for longer than an instant.

Publisher: New York : Fourth Estate, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060741761
Branch Call Number: FICTION Giardini
Characteristics: 278 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 04, 2011

Overall, 'The Sad Truth About Happiness' is definitely a book worth reading. I was intrigued by the premise: protagonist Maggie (a thirty-something single woman) takes a magazine quiz - a quiz which promises to predict longevity. Maggie's negative response to the last question - 'Are you happy?' - completely alters the quiz result. In fact, the quiz predicts that she has only three months to live.
I felt a strong connection to Maggie as she ruminated over the elusive nature of happiness. I particularly enjoyed Giardini's writing style - so lush and poetic. At times, actually, her style was a little over-the-top: descriptions of mundane objects or events which went on for pages, and a rather in-your-face attempt to carry a religious motif through the novel (by the time the protagonist arrived in a town called L'Ascension, I felt a little battered by symbolism). The plot derailed when it took a most unexpected turn in the last third - for me, it never got back on track after that point.
Still, I shed a few tears while reading the last three paragraphs of the book - I think Maggie (or Giardini) did come to terms with the quality of happiness, and while it wasn't the answer I was hoping for, it certainly rang with authenticity. Well done.


Add a Summary

Jul 30, 2012

One woman's story about life as a daughter and a grown woman. Her unique journey to make meaning.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top