2022 in Books: The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins

It is said not to judge a book by its cover. The Forgotten Guide to Happiness was one of those books that I did judge and picked it based on the front cover – how pretty is it?

Sometimes happiness can be found where you least expect it…Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself. Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.

When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who didn’t realise they need to be saved! An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.

This was a light read that was good to get the year started with. The story follows Lana, a struggling writer who has just had her follow-up novel turned down by her agent Kitty. Her first novel had been a success so she had the pressure to live up to that but also what happened next with her characters. Although there is romance in the story and it is talked about, it’s nearly always on the back burner and doesn’t feature heavily like other authors might have done.

Alongside her book being turned down, the story starts with Mark, Lana’s boyfriend (and inspiration for the hero in her first book) leaves her for a free-diver named Helga. Lana soon finds herself struggling to make ends and practically homeless but soon an opportunity to help with Nancy presents itself.

After the disaster of a meeting with her agent, Lana heads to the pub to commiserate and bumps into Jack. He tells her that his stepmother is also a writer, which she shrugs off – little does she know that Nancy will help to change her life!

At this point, Lana moves in with Nancy and they become unlikely housemates.

Lana’s character was likeable but sometimes needed a good telling off as she could sometimes come off a little selfish that every action was for her own good not for the good of those around her but she was relatable as well as flawed just like we all are.

Nancy’s character is both endearing and heartbreaking. Dementia has definitely had its effect on her but she still has a sociable personality, which in turn causes it’s own issues. Even being an elderly lady with dementia she still has so much to offer to those around her. You can feel the other’s frustration with her but also their love for her too.

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is a warm and easy read, it’s tender and inspiring. The characters are charismatic and likeable, they do have their flaws – but that adds to the different layers you get in a person.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for providing me with a digital ARC for review. All opinions are my own.

This year I’m attempting to document more of the books that I read rather than them just falling into my Goodreads account and being forgotten about. You can follow my reads this year here. You can also see other blog posts I’ve written about books and reading here.