Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman, published October 2016 by Headline Review.
Read: January 2017
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Is there such a thing as a formula for happiness? If it’s Netflix + 2 for 1 Malbec + the perfect toasted-cheese sandwich, Lenny Dublonsky has it covered. Even if she works for a tech company where her colleagues ride scooters round the office, and is in a relationship with a man who doesn’t do relationships.
Lenny’s friend Juliet never planned to be pregnant and married at nineteen, but since then she has been the perfect wife with the perfect family. Until her husband Matt drops the ultimate bombshell… Lenny is determined to save the day. So when she’s asked to test an app that enhances happiness, she puts scepticism aside and persuades Juliet they should give it a go. Could it really be that happiness is only seven steps away?
A funny and moving novel of friendship, heartbreak, and the restorative power of melted cheese.
Welcome to my first review of 2017, and what a GREAT book to start the year off with! Do you ever get the feeling that certain books were meant to find you at exactly the right time? That they resonate with you straight to your bones, and you almost wish you could walk into the pages and become absorbed in to that world? THAT was Seven Steps to Happiness for me.
Don’t let the title fool you – this is not a self-help book (though it may inadvertently have achieved that for me, but I digress). This is a fantastically well-written, very humorous, at times quite hard-hitting, relevant, and perfectly-paced story that I quite literally could not put down.
While this would typically be classed under those horrible terms “women’s fiction” or the even worse “chick-lit”, this book really does break the mould exceptionally – the characters have depth, there is minimal cheese-factor (except perhaps in those wonderfully described toasties), American-isms are at a bare minimum, and the story-line rarely ventures anywhere near the ridiculous (let’s be honest, realism isn’t a strong point of much “chick-lit”, is it?). There is a great Bridget Jones vibe from this novel, but it’s definitely not trying to be that. Basically, it warrants a movie, stat!
Our two main characters, best friends Lenny and Juliet, are both approaching 40 and each leading very different lives with their own trials and tribulations. In my opinion, Newman is an utter genius – a variety of issues are tackled in this novel but at no time does it ever feel too dark, no one issue is focused on for long enough to entice boredom (however, they are all given the amount of page-time they deserve), and the characters are not perfect, they are perfectly flawed.
Lenny is definitely my spirit animal. Certain aspects of her life, her thoughts, her imperfections, and the ruts she finds herself in ARE MY LIFE. As I’m 26 and Lenny is 38, I’m not sure if Newman intended (or was aware) that modern issues (career-related, relationship-related, etc.) seem to cross generations, or if that’s just coincidence. I’ve always been very mature, so other 20-something’s may not have a similar experience with this book. However, from the many in-depth, tackling-the-universe, putting-the-world-to-rights conversations and discussions I have with my older sister, it does seem that life’s little issues plague us all, regardless of our age.
Overall, a fantastic read (that will be kept, treasured, and reread), and one that is already one of my favourite books of the year. You just wait for my Favourite Books of 2017 post and see if I’m lying.
NOTE: The eBook is currently only 99p on Amazon UK. Go, go, go!
Have you read Seven Steps to Happiness, or any other books by Stella Newman? Let me know in the comments!