#SheReviews Happy Place by Emily Henry

July 14, 2023

One’s mental and emotional equilibrium is greatly enhanced, and a swift lift given to one’s spirits, by delving (whenever the opportunity arises) into a well crafted and deftly plotted romance novel. It matters little what is happening in one’s life, a romantic read transports us viscerally and liberally so that anything that ails us is relegated (for a time anyway) to the back of the mind. In short, romance novels always give one a blessed reprieve from life’s troubles.

Such consequential truths are certainly clear after reading powerhouse American romance author, Emily Henry’s, latest stellar novel, Happy Place.

Thirty year olds Harriet Kilpatrick (a doctor, doing a residency in San Francisco) and Wyn Connor (working in his family’s furniture repair business in Montana) were, to the outside world, close to the perfect couple. Until they weren’t. Now their mutual friend Sabrina (a divorce attorney whose parents are loaded) has invited Harriet and Wyn to her family’s cottage on the windswept and rocky, yet distinctly serene, Maine coast, at Knott’s Harbor. A locale that is sublimely healing, therapeutic and demonstrably heavenly (think endless vistas of sparkling, icy blue ocean, seagulls flying lazily overhead and an eclectic assortment of mouthwatering food shops in town, where they have the rambunctious Lobster Festival every year).

Also invited to the cottage this blissful summer (weather wise at least) are couple Cleo and Kimmy, country farmers.

Harriet, Sabrina and Cleo have been ‘besties’ since freshman year at Mattingly College in Vermont. As Harriet reflects nostalgically to herself of her time at Mattingly with Sabrina and Cleo by her side, “I couldn’t have imagined being any happier, loving anywhere else as much. Not until Sabrina brought us here, to her family’s summer home on the coast of Maine. Not until I met Wyn”.

Wyn, studying a business degree, has met Harriet and friends at Mattingly and shares ‘digs’ with them for a time. Later, Harriet and Sabrina get into ‘school’ at Columbia University in New York. Harriet to study Medicine and Sabrina to do Law. In New York Parth, Wyn and the three girls share an apartment, Wyn and Harriet then moving into their own dilapidated abode once they have become an item.

Sabrina is getting married at the cottage, at the end of the week the ‘gang’ are staying there, to Parth, also a lawyer and Sabrina’s devoted soulmate.

The caveat for Harriet and Wyn is that none of their friends know they have split up, and thus the tortured couple make a pact to not let their friends know they have parted ways until after the week in Maine.

Will Harriet and Wyn be able to deceive their ‘tribe’ for a whole week, and make the others think they are still very much a couple?

Will Harriet ever find out why Wyn really ‘dumped’ her? 

Have the friends, after so many years in each other’s lives’, and so many holidays at Sabrina’s folks’ cottage together, started to drift apart both emotionally and geographically? Why will this be their last summer together at the cottage?

What is it that Harriet has to reveal to her parents?

Can Harriet’s heart ever heal after she’s lost Wyn? Will he ever truly open his heart to her?

Emily has written a soaring romance novel that is phenomenally evocative of time and place. Happy Places’ pages are peppered with superlative love, angst, wisdom and intelligence. Interestingly, Emily has explored the sombering themes of mental health, grief and romantic heartbreak, as well as dovetailing in the endlessly mysterious theme of romantic love and the sometimes simple/sometimes complicated theme of friendship.

Bravo Emily! You have knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. I am sure that this novel will be widely read by a multitude of folks not just in the United States (where romance novels are the biggest selling genre for book sales) but throughout the world (the language of love is universal after all!). I loved reading every page of Happy Place, and can not wait to read Emily’s next book.

You can purchase the book here!

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