Often I Am Happy (★★★★★)

Often I Am Happy

Jens Christian Grondahl   *   Twelve   *   April 11, 2017   *   176 Pages

Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Ellinor is 70 and alone. Her husband has just died. Well, he was her second husband. And he was once married to her former best friend, Anna, who is also dead. And who, let’s just be real, probably had an affair with Henning, Ellinor’s first husband. In other words, things are complicated. Or they were. Before everyone died.

So now it is just Ellinor, and she has some things to say to her dead used-to-be best friend, her friend who she adored before it all went wrong. Often I Am Happy is Ellinor’s side of the story. This is where she unfetters herself, shares it all, divulges secrets, and finally, finally expresses some of that anger.

We, who are no longer being loved, must choose between revenge and understanding.

Truly, what a lovely little nugget this book turned out to be. Short, descriptive, thoughtful. Sad and contemplative, yes, but also light and entertaining. Ellinor is insightful and honest, easy to empathize with, even when she’s disagreeable. Her frustration with her grown stepchildren is amusing, her callousness off-putting but also earned. I can’t imagine what it would be like to take over someone else’s life after that person died, to be the less-vibrant version of another woman, the second-tier stand-in for a bright and shiny (and backstabbing) best friend. It’s sad to think that it took Ellinor so long to step out from under the shadows of everyone else’s star, but I celebrated with her when freedom finally arrived, even if it also came shrouded in grief.

Love’s bereaved ones are left to try and understand. It is for the rejected to be noble and wisely realize that we only have each other on loan.

Often I Am Happy really surprised me, honestly. Such melancholy subject matter, but the book is so well-written and honest and endearing that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. This one is a gem.

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.


6 thoughts

  1. This sounds like an interesting book. She has all these problems, the “problems” die, and then she still has problems, including the relationships with people who were also related to the deceased. Books with elderly main characters make me nervous, though, because I’m always worried I’m just going to end up sad. I read Us by Michael Kimball (recommended by Oprah), and was just a sad sack for ages.

    Liked by 1 person

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