The Happiness Project - a memoir about one woman's quest to become happier. I loved it - the book itself and all the specific ideas proposed, but mostly I loved the idea of it - the thought that happiness is something we work on everyday, something we deserve to cultivate in our lives, and something that means different things to different people. In 2012, I read Rubin's book, Happiness at Home, an extension on the original Happiness idea, but focused on things that one can do at home. I also am a frequent visitor to Rubin's blog at http://www.gretchenrubin.com/ where she includes daily thoughts on happiness, thinking about how we each achieve it, and remembering that we are all entitled to it.
Each month, Rubin suggests three books to read - one about happiness, one children's book, and one eccentric pick. I don't read one of her suggestions every month, but her happiness pick back in April stood out to me for some reason, so I checked it out. Family Happiness by Laurie Colwin is the story of a woman, Polly, who always does what is expected of her. She is the only daughter in a prominent family, who married the right guy, and had two nearly perfect children. She has a job, but always puts her husband's needs before her own. Until the day she finds herself swept up in an affair with a local artist. The book tracks Polly's confusion as she tries to figure out what it means to follow her own heart, and to figure out the right line to tow between duty and independence.
I was a bit surprised to learn this book was published in 2000. It might have just been the worn and yellowed copy I borrowed from the library, but something about the way it was written seemed old-timey to me. Or maybe it was just the idea of a prominent family and a daughter doing her duty. At times, as one might expect, Polly becomes annoying. Her inability to make choices, and the potential effects of her affair on her family are disconcerting (her relationship with her children is also quite strange) - but I liked this book more for the overall idea of it - trying to figure out what one wants in life, independent of what one is conditioned to want or what one feels they should want is no easy task. But, it is certainly one worth exploring.