How to be Happy by Eva Woods

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How to be Happy by Eva Woods

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Terminal cancer doesn't sound like the most cheering subject but this is a surprisingly uplifting read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: March 2018
Publisher: sphere
ISBN: 978-0751568530

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Annie had hit rock bottom. Her mother was suffering from early-onset dementia and her marriage was well and truly over. She lived in a damp and depressing tenth-floor ex-council flat and had to share with someone she didn't really know just to afford the rent. And let's not get into the job with Lewisham Council and her colleagues there. Could it get any worse? Well, it looked as though it might when Polly burst into her life. She's one of those irritatingly happy, joyful people who simply won't take no for an answer and she's determined to make Annie happy. Whether she likes it or not.

Polly looks like one of those lucky people who have everything: she's colourful, everyone seems to know and love her and despite being thirty five she lives with supportive parents who obviously adore her. The downside is that she has terminal cancer and round about three months to live, courtesy of a brain tumour she calls Bob. And how's she going to convince Annie to be happy? Well, on each of the hundred or so days she has left they're going to do something to make themselves happy and Annie is going to learn that whilst no one's life is perfect she still has the chance to turn her life around.

Of course, Polly's life hasn't been as perfect as it looked on the surface, even before she got the cancer diagnosis, and there's a deeper sadness which Annie isn't over yet and which she's simply not willing to talk about, but - little by little - things start to change and not just for the two women. Happiness isn't just about eating cake and not going into work if you don't feel like it: it's also about helping other people. Gradually a lot of people come into Polly's orbit and when it comes to getting what she wants - or what she thinks other people need - she can be very manipulative. Very manipulative indeed.

Now if you're thinking that this book sounds like taking your pleasures just a little bit too sadly, then forget it: it's a very uplifting read. Eva Woods has created a monster in Polly, but she's the sort you want to hug and hope that she gets a better result than the one that's not just on the cards, but up in lights from the very beginning. I loved Annie too: life hasn't treated her fairly, but then who do you complain to? When Polly appeared in her life she'd hit the bottom and for anyone who's been there the symptoms are plain to see. You can understand her reluctance to even make an effort to improve her life: at least when you're on the bottom you don't have to worry that things are going to get worse.

I thought the book would last me for about a week, but I surprised myself by reading straight through in a couple of days. Short chapters help - there's one for most of the hundred days and it's very easy to succumb to the temptation to read just one (or a dozen) more chapters. It was a good, uplifting and compelling read. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think you might also enjoy Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future by Melissa Pimentel.

Buy How to be Happy by Eva Woods at Amazon You could get a free audio download of How to be Happy by Eva Woods with a 30-day Audible free trial at

Buy How to be Happy by Eva Woods at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How to be Happy by Eva Woods at

Buy How to be Happy by Eva Woods at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How to be Happy by Eva Woods at


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