Happy Place by Emily Henry
Published: April 25th 2023 by Penguin UK
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Adult // Contemporary Romance
Quick Thoughts: Just as idyllic, heartfelt and magnificent as expected. I adore the way Emily writes her characters.
About The Book:
A couple who broke up months ago pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends.
Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.
They broke up five months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.
Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.
Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?
As a Certified Emily Henry Fan™ for going on several years now, I’ve become accustomed to shutting out the entire world whenever she drops another book. Emily truly is my comfort author, and when I was thinking of a book to take on vacation to the Jurassic Coast, it had to be Happy Place. There was no other option that filled me with as much joy. (And I managed to snag a signed pre-order from Waterstones, so I was protecting it with my life on holiday.)
Harriet and Wyn couldn’t be more perfect for one another. After meeting through Harriet’s college friends she was roomed with, subsequently becoming an item, it’s like they weren’t themselves until they met, drawn to each other like a magnet. Until suddenly—Harriet and Wyn are no more. Wyn calls Harriet and ends things on a phone call when they were going through a long-distance phase, breaking her heart and tarnishing her idea of what they had. Of course there’s more to it, things they were both going through—parental loss, unhappiness in their careers, buried mental health issues—but Harriet always thought Wyn would never leave.
Fast forward five months and the two are reunited for the first time at their annual vacation thrown at a Maine cottage by Harriet’s best friend since college, Sabrina. Parth, Sabrina’s boyfriend—and Wyn’s best friend—is there, and so is Cleo, Harriet’s other college best friend, along with her partner, Kimmy. Even though Harriet assumed Wyn wouldn’t be there, here he is, and there’s nothing either of them can do—they cannot ruin this week for their friends. After all, they haven’t even told anyone they’ve split up. And after being told the cottage is going to be sold and this is their last year here together, Harriet feels stuck. Too afraid to back out and ruin the memory of a perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn agree to a truce: pretend to be a couple again for the week, get through it, and then never speak again. But as old wounds and close proximity play out, Harriet and Wyn find themselves opening back up to each other, revisiting things that have happened, and how they got to where they are now. Only, when disaster strikes and the vacation juts off-course, everything seems to derail, with Harriet finding herself asking: is there a way to get back to her happy place when so much has changed? And what does her happy place look like when so much as happened?
Overall, Happy Place was just as idyllic, heartfelt and magnificent as expected. I adore the way Emily writes her characters, and I could almost feel the pain when Harriet opened up her heart. I loved that the book explored complex sibling/parental relationships, too. The friendship between Harriet, Sabrina and Cleo was sincere and covetable, probably one of my favourite parts of the book being their beautiful bond. They were so different, yet they had this uncontainable love for one another that was bigger than anyone could ever capture. Of course, a Maine setting was always going to be a hit with me (it’s my dream to visit there!) and the romance, coupled with addictive descriptions of a blissful, coastal summer was everything you could wish for in a read this time of year. Emily has truly outshone herself with this latest must-read, and I cannot recommend it enough. Movies of her books cannot come soon enough—I need these stories in my veins. BRB, I’m going off to get emotional about it again. (Five stars, if it wasn’t obvious!)