By Emily Henry
I read a lot of romance novels. I know the tropes, the cliches, all the things that make people fall for a good swoony read. Because of this, when I find a romance novel that transcends the simple tropes that I have read numerous times, it sticks with me. That’s how I felt when I was reading Happy Place by Emily Henry. I had read her previous novels and loved them, so my expectations were high but Henry took me by surprise with her fourth novel. The book delves into life after college, strong female friendships, and obviously love.
Happy Place is a dual timeline novel. It covers the main character Harriet’s “Happy Place” which encapsulates the time when the friendships and loves are all new as well as real life, when people are older and have seen and been through more, together and apart. The general plot follows Harriet and Wyn. They are brought together by their college best friends and become very close friends, and eventually much more. For years they are happy but life gets complicated and they end up breaking up. Because their friend group was already going through the changes that life brings, they decided to not tell any of their friends that they split, allowing them to believe that they were just in a long distance relationship. This all changes when Harriet’s best friend Sabrina drags her along to a week-long getaway at the lake house that the friends used to go to every single summer after college. When she gets there she finds out that they got Wyn to go to “surprise” Harriet. This throws the former lovers into a fake relationship in order to preserve the friend group they hold so dear. However, the time together brings back memories, and feelings….
Despite loving how Henry writes romance, I fell in love with how she wrote the female friendships in this novel. The friendships between Harriet and her best friends Sabrina and Cleo are so complex and real. When you meet as college roommates and remain best friends until your thirties, there are going to be lots of changes. Most importantly, this novel shows how you can disagree with your friends, and be mad at them, but at the end of the day you can love them more than anything else. I’m used to tearing up when I think romance is really cute, but the friendship scenes in Happy Place really got me, multiple times. I could see myself and my friends which made the novel even more special of a read.
Along with lovely interpersonal relationships, Henry beautifully writes about mental health in Happy Place. The characters deal with difficult childhoods, large life changes, loss, depression, anxiety, etc. and all of the plotlines feel genuine and honest. The descriptions of feeling like you are disappointing the people you love hit really hard for me personally. By giving two timelines, you can see so much growth in all of the characters which I loved.
Overall, this book was incredibly written and covered topics that really meant a lot to me. 4.5/5