Happy Place by Emily Henry
04/25/2023 by Berkley
Review by Angela
I’m unsure what kind of magic this author weaves through her pages as she’s writing, but I am always desperate to get a copy of every new release. When I do, I immediately open and devour every word. Emily Henry is my latest must-read author and I can’t get enough of her voice.
Happy Place is labeled as both a contemporary romance and a women’s fiction novel. And I agree wholeheartedly with those classifications. While ultimately this is a book about a couple stuck in an impossible situation, broken up, but pretending to be together for the sake of their best friends group, it is also about true, long-term friendships and finding authentic happiness and peace.
Our main protagonists are Harriet and Wyn, a couple who have split up after being together for years. The secondary characters, who don’t really feel secondary at all, are a group comprised of college roommates and the people they added along the way. Sabrina, Cleo, Kimmy, and Parth are Harriet and Wyn’s closest friends in the world, the family they chose, and their ride-or-die besties. Afraid to change the dynamic between the group, and ruin the last weekend at their beloved vacation home, they choose to keep their parting a secret. But Harriet is hurting from not knowing why Wyn ended things and Wyn seems to act like he still loves and misses her, but he insists he has his reasons. Can they act like the happy couple convincingly enough to get through this last trip?
This book is told in alternating timelines, bouncing back and forth between Harriet’s happy memories of her friendship with Sabrina and Cleo, and meeting and falling in love with Wyn, and the present situation of the whole group on vacation. I found her to be a reliable narrator, both in the past and present. The reader can feel her love and devotion to the people in her life. I enjoyed these parts of the story just as much as I did the present-day push-and-pull, chemistry between Harriet and Wyn. And they do have incredible chemistry, I never for a minute doubted that they still desperately loved each other even after the breakup. I think this may be Emily Henry’s sexiest novel to date, there is lots of teasing, flirtatious glances full of longing, and hot and heavy “this might be the last time we feel each other’s body against ours so we need to make it good” moments.
Ultimately, this is not just a novel about romantic love, but about friendship. And this author writes those relationships so well. There are so many beautiful moments. It is also about growing apart, finding your way back to each other, and breaking out of the shell you’ve encased yourself in to discover your true happiness, regardless of how you were raised or the traumas of your past. There are some deeper themes, but quite a few fun, lighter moments as well.
Overall, I found Happy Place to be incredibly an incredibly romantic, uplifting read. So looking forward to this author’s next release. Definitely recommend.
Content warnings- depression, death of a parent, drug use
This sounds enticing, Angela! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.