Secrets of Happiness

Paperback edition released 05/08/2021

by Joan Silber

Family Drama Literary Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of Secrets of Happiness

An exploration of life and love, via first-person narratives of two families thrown together from different sides of the tracks

Ethan’s father is outed as a man living a double life with another family on the other, less salubrious, side of New York. Who are they? Certainly nothing like Ethan; this newly-discovered household are Thai, live in Queens and serve and wash dishes at the local Thai restaurant. He, meanwhile, is a lawyer residing in West Village, often found in Katz. 

This discovery introduces us to an ensemble cast and we delve deep into their lives until a bigger picture unfolds. After Ethan we hear from others; some tell us about losing parents, bailing out siblings on the other side of the world, leaving lovers and rekindling old flames. 

Silber is as incise and skewering as Woody Allen, delivering needle-sharp observation that we associate with the best American writers. But it’s the ghost of Charles Dickens who’s really flickering on the margins and Silber takes on his themes of family inheritance, class and wealth to underpin her characters’ search for happiness. 

Julie Vuong

Secrets of Happiness Synopsis

One of O: The Oprah Magazine's Most Anticipated Books of 2021 One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 picks for Spring 2021 Ethan, a young lawyer in New York, learns that his father has long kept a second family - a wife and two kids living in Queens. In the aftermath of this revelation, Ethan's mother spends a year travelling abroad, returning much changed, just as her now ex-husband falls ill. Across town, Ethan's half brothers are caught in their own complicated journeys: one brother's penchant for minor delinquency has escalated and the other must travel to Bangkok to bail him out, while the bargains their mother struck about love and money continue to shape all their lives. As Ethan finds himself caught in a love triangle of his own, the interwoven fates of these two households elegantly unfurl to touch many other figures, revealing secret currents of empathy and loyalty, the bounty of improvised families and the paradoxical ties that weave through life's rich contours. With a generous and humane spirit, Secrets of Happiness elucidates the ways people marshal the resources at hand in an effort to find joy.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781911630890
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Author: Joan Silber
Publisher: Allen & Unwin an imprint of Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Primary Genre Family Drama
Other Genres:

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Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781911630081
Publication date: 05/08/2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781911630890
Publication date: 05/08/2021
Format: Paperback

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About Joan Silber

Joan Silber is the author of nine books of fiction. Her last book, Improvement, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was listed as one of the year's best books by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, the Seattle Times and Kirkus Reviews. She lives in New York. Find out more at

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