Happiness by Aminatta Forna


"Not since Remains of the Day has an author so skillfully revealed the way history's layers are often invisible to all but its participants . . . Gorgeous."--John Freeman, Boston Globe on The Hired ManLondon. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide--Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance enco...

Details Happiness

Release DateMar 6th, 2018
PublisherAtlantic Monthly Press
GenreFiction, Contemporary

Reviews Happiness

  • Emma
    A very thought provoking book. Is there such a thing as normal? In the West we are sanitised from death to a large extent- bereavement and loss can be all consuming. But in other war torn parts of the world, death can be an everyday part of life. Does trauma necessarily mean that we are damaged? Or does it mean that we are only changed?“The trouble with happiness, thought Attila, was that, perhaps because infants seemed such happy creatures, pe...
  • Sara
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a story of serendipity. The chance meeting of two strangers on Waterloo bridge caused by a fox. What follows is a story that transcends time, culture, and what it is to be truely happy. This is a complicated tale, with an uneasy structure. It travels backwards and forwards between places and people, meaning it can be difficult to commit and get deeply involved with all of th...
  • Lola Et La Vie
    The premise of two strangers meeting on Waterloo Bridge because of an urban fox was enough to make me want to read this book. I lived in London for ten years and the city and its fox population have a special place in my heart. And now, so has this lovely beautifully crafted novel.This is a story of two people who have already had a life. Throughout the book we get glimpses of the past that has shaped them into the people they are in the present....
  • Andre
    Perplexing. There is a lot going on in this novel and I’m not sure how much happiness is contained within. Ms. Forna is attempting to show the interrelatedness of lives that can intersect and cause a change reaction. Attila and Jane meet in London, totally by chance, she bumps into him on a bridge, and no words are exchanged initially but they see each other later, again by chance and converse with each other, and those exchanges form the basis...
  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    ‘At that time of the day Waterloo Bridge is busy with shoppers and weekend workers who make their way on foot across the bridge to Waterloo Station.’On that day and at that time, a fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. Among those distracted by the sight are Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist in London to deliver a keynote speech at a conference. This chance encounter defines a starti...
  • Krystal
    This insightful novel captures the interconnectedness of humans and animals alike as it spans across time, continents, circumstances and emotions, with a diversity of characters.
  • Sue
    Review copy courtesy of Grove Atlantic via NetGalley, many thanks for the opportunity. I’ve not read Aminatta Forna’s earlier novel ‘The Memory of Love’, though I saw it on bookshop shelves at the time of publication and admired its cover, but I shall be seeking it out as a matter of urgency as a result of my reading this latest of hers and how interested it has made me in Sierra Leone and its recent history. This is an educational experi...
  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
    See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary FlitsI loved Aminatta Forna's previous novel, Memories Of Love, so was especially thrilled to get an advanced reader copy of her newest book, Happiness. While I wasn't emotionally swept up into the story in the same way this time around, I still enjoyed the read just as much. Happiness is set mostly in present-day London and I felt that Forna's evocation of the city is absolutely spot on. The feel ...
  • Kylie Corley
    Currently not finished, but wanted to leave a review of what I thought so far before release date since I received an ARC. What I've read so far, it is beautifully descriptive and we'll written. Has a good premise, but for some reason I just can't get in to it. The cover is awesome, too. I will update once I finish it.
  • Nadia
    It’s a breathtaking, realizing novel of loves lost and new, of man and nature, and of the hidden side of multicultural metropolis.. It’s state of the art diversity and Immigration, with a true nature of *Happiness*
  • Kaye
    I treasured every moment as I read this book. It felt as if I took a long trip to exotic destinations with a clever, insightful friend. Jean and Attila led the most memorable cast of characters I can remember meeting in the pages of a book. The story engaged my mind and my heart, and I believe I am a better person for having read it. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance reader's copy -- I will surely buy it for my permanent library when it is p...
  • Shelley Thompson
    Happiness by Aminatta Forna reads like a character study where even the most minor people get some in-depth background details. The two main characters, Attila and Jean, meet by coincidence and the story goes on to describe them individually as well as how they interact. "Attila was not unhappy, he was simply living with a grief that had become his quiet companion." It's a slow mover but stories of the two are interesting enough to keep the reade...
  • Madalina Negrea
    I absolutely loved this book. It is probably impossible not to love it, the two perspectives (one of a scientist's and the other of a psychiatrist's) on our life, destiny, rights on Earth and, most of all, resilience, are chilling but thought-provoking. Through its fragmentary narrative thread we find out how history repeats itself and mankind learn nothing from it: war victims are the same in every troubled corner of the globe, we justify animal...
  • Randi Kennedy
    First Thoughts: Forna writes prose like poetry. At times beautiful, raw, and infuriating. Extended Review:Full disclosure: I went into this reading experience with high expectations, as her previous novel, The Hired Man, I found moving and devastating. Happiness did NOT disappoint.The bones of the plot are thus: the experiences of Attila, a West African psychologist who works with victims of trauma and visiting London to delivery a keynote speech...
  • Flavia
    This brilliant novel flows smoothly and bursts with themes, ideas and stories, which under Forna’s talented guidance never threatens to feel too much. It is a novel which holds itself together with dignity, beauty and intelligence. Aminatta Forna has ambitiously taken on the theme of human nature’s need to destroy and harm; she does so very matter-of-factly, there is nothing sentimental here - this does not deduct from the sense of tragedy/pa...
  • Jenny
    A chance meeting on Waterloo Bridge in London introduces the reader to two very interesting and utterly believable characters,, Atilla from Accra and Jean from the USA. They are both in London to work. Jean is a scientist studying urban foxes. She has studied coyotes in her hone town and faced aggressive and unfounded opposition from people unwilling to change their point of view.She faces the same wall of ignorance in London, and seems outnumber...
  • Breakaway Reviewers
    This is a multi-layered book with many themes.Two strangers bump into each other on Waterloo Bridge. At the centre of this book is the developing relationship between these two; Atilla, a Ghanaian psychiatrist and Jean, an American living in London and studying the habits of urban foxes.Rather mystifyingly the story opens with an account, in italics, of a 19th century Wolfer, working in the States. The description of him tracking the wolf and kil...
  • Mary Robinson
    It is hard to describe the plot of this novel, but not hard to detail it's appeal. The main characters, Jean, a biologist involved in a study of urban foxes in London, and Attila, a world renowned psychiatrist who specializes in PTSD and war zones, literally bump into each other on Waterloo Bridge one night. She while pursuing her research, he, in London to present the keynote address at a conference. Their paths cross again in a day or so. Soon,...
  • Kathleen Gray
    Beautiful. This is a thought provoking and sensitive novel about (primarily) two people who meet by chance- Jean, an American wildlife expert studying fox in London, and Atilla, a Ghanian psychiatrist and trauma specialist in London to give a presentation. Their stories- told in back and forth time lines- are so well done, as are the stories of others in their orbit. They band together to hunt for Atilla's nephew Tano who runs away from Child Ser...
  • Amy Gennaro
    I was give an advance copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.What a uniquely captivating book! The book was fascinating---just from the storylines; one about observation of wild animals living in human living areas, and about dealing with the aftermath of victims of human conflict. The subtle parallels were fascinating and insightful. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Jean tells Atilla that their meeting was n...
  • Becky Zales
    Happiness by Aminatta Forna is a fiction novel that takes place in London 2014. It is the story of two people whose paths cross while Jean, a wildlife biologist, accidentally bumps into Attila while chasing a fox. Attila is a psychiatrist from Accra visiting London for a conference.While I am not familiar with Forna's previous books I was definitely taken in by her captivating writing style. She has the art of making each character memorable no m...
  • Carla
    Definitely a literary novel. Study of foxes meets Dr. that works to heal those suffering trauma. A lot of background into the lady studying foxes Jean, an American)and her meeting Dr. Atilla (from Ghanaian) in London. Their teaming together to find a lost boy. The people working to help them in London, taxi drivers, door men, street entertainers, etc. All from different parts of the world and how they came to be in London. At times it seemed like...
  • Annie
    Aminatta Forna’s novel, Happiness, is so good that, when I finished, I just had to sit for a bit in the afterglow. It’s not just that this book has so many of the things that I love—non-standard plot structure with plots woven in and out of each other, set in London, flawed characters who slowly fall in love with each other. What I loved most about this book is what it has to say about suffering and resilience. Over and over, the characters...
  • Jo Co32
    This tale of Attila, a renowned psychologist, and Jean, a biologist/scientist, totally enthralled me, not just because I am familiar with the areas of London in which much of the story takes place. The way Aminatta Forma built up not only these but all the less important characters created a depth of knowledge about their lives which made me long for the happy ending which in my heart I knew would not come for all of them. Whilst the subtle shift...
  • Lynn
    A very large black man, aptly named Attila Asare, is a psychologist specializing in PTSD. One evening, crossing the Waterloo Bridge, he bumps in to Jean Turane. She's a wildlife biologist, specializing in the migration patterns of foxes and coyotes and wolves.How these two got to be who and where they are, and how their lives begin to intertwine, makes for a most enjoyable read.I read this EARC courtesy of Net Galley and Grove Atlantic. pub date ...
  • Melissa Dee
    “Happiness" is a stunningly beautiful book. I finished it and wanted to start it all over again. I wanted the exciting feeling of falling in love with its characters. This is a book about finding lost things. It juxtaposes the immensities of the world’s problems with the small-scale struggles of nature at war with itself. Attila and Jean are not fearless, but have learned not to be afraid of fear, and their courage and breadth of spirit are b...
  • Kathryn
    When I first started this, I really didn’t want to like it. The writing style was not quite right for me, and I wasn’t sure where the storyline was going. That said, the book and its characters grew tremendously on me over time. I have an ARC, so your mileage may vary, but in the end I found the book to be a very beautiful story about humanity, love, and loss.
  • Kirsty
    I so enjoyed The Memory of Love and The Hired Man that I couldn't wait to read Aminatta Forna's new novel, Happiness. I normally love her writing style, but the prose here felt quite flat. I was not interested in the slightest about either protagonist, and the novel sadly failed to capture my interest.
  • Yvette Fontaine
    I read an advance copy. I think there's a plot hidden somewhere in this book. I spent the entire time I was reading the book looking for it. Searching for the plot is what kept me returning to the book. Hopefully, the advance version was significantly edited prior to releasing the actual publication.