The Happy Couple

Naoise Dolan

Looking for a summer read that will keep you hooked but does not involve gruesome murders or great tragedy? Look no further – The Happy Couple is the one. Effortlessly funny and full of memorable characters, it is just the right length (and size, even as a hardcover!) to be the perfect travel companion.

Luke and Celine’s wedding is fast approaching, but everyone involved seems to be ambivalent about the prospective marriage, including the bride and groom themselves. The book is divided into six sections, each providing a slightly different perspective on the couple’s individual and shared history.

By the time the reader finally gets to hear from Luke directly, they will be well acquainted with his near-pathological indecisiveness, having read through Celine’s recounting of her previous toxic relationship with a fellow concert pianist Maria and how strangely different it was from her with Luke’s. They will also have heard from Archie, Luke’s best friend… and ex-of-sorts, as well as from Phoebe, Celine’s less neurotic and loyal sister, plus a handful of other gripping characters. Through this nifty fractal approach, the novel achieves its great balance: it explores the complexity of human and gender relations, but remains a fun light read, full of little twists and petty intrigue.

This is a novel whose sole tension rests on one question: will Luke and Celine get married? A simple matter, perhaps, but the snappy writing and intense character studies will draw you in, make you crave the answer. The people in Dolan’s universe may be flawed, extremely unlikeable even, but they remain attractive at their core, almost aspirational in their professional and emotional pursuits. Perfect for fans of early Gossip Girl, Sally Rooney, and everyone looking for their next sexy cosmopolitan interpersonal drama.

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