Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

I have heard people talk of Laurie Colwin for years, but mostly about her food writing. Her book of food essays, Home Cooking, is a beloved title among many foodies and readers (Nigella Lawson is a fan). I was vaguely aware that she wrote novels, too, and when I saw this book at a second-hand bookshop in Texas last October I added it to the stack and resolved to try her writing. And I’m so glad I did! I really enjoyed this very quirky, funny novel about two cousins, Guido and Vincent, and their search for love and contentment. Both their characters are very well-drawn as are those of the women they end up marrying. The writing, the plot and the characters are all just delightful, charming and, yes, cozy. I have not read anyone quite like Colwin before, but I think if you like Barbara Pym you would probably like the understated humor here and the true pleasure she takes in writing about domestic affairs. I am looking forward to reading more of her books soon and was really pleased to see that they will all be re-issued this year.

In other news, my garden has not quite lived up to my expectations! Nearly all my sweet peas died except for one pot that is still thriving (though I’m not sure for how long as it has suddenly become very hot here). I do have some sunflowers sprouting and I know they usually can survive our hellish summers so I have lots of hope for them. I am also planning to sow zinnias and cosmos which can sometimes survive the heat. If anything exciting happens (such as actually getting blossoms) I will be sure to share.

8 thoughts on “Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

  1. Coincidentally, I am just reading this for the first time myself! I have enjoyed her cookbook/memoirs but never read her fiction before. I find Vincent and Misty more interesting than Guido and Hollly, I think because I don’t understand Holly any better than he does!

    You have a standing invitation for book shopping and tea in Houston, if you’re ever in this part of Texas.


    1. Laurie Colwin must be in the air! I think it will be her year with all the reissues happening. I find Misty more interesting too, though I do envy Holly’s capacity for creating a peaceful home.
      I would love to visit you in Houston sometime! I now have cousins in San Antonio and Austin so I wouldn’t be too far either way. Hope you are doing well!


  2. What a shame about your sweet peas. Maybe you should try pelargoniums/geraniums, they would like your heat. Bougainvillea might work, it’s not possible to grow it in Scotland, you could try a rose – just add water! Good luck.


    1. We can do geraniums in the fall/winter but they die about this time. There is always bougainvillea, but as you can imagine, it is very common here! I wanted to do something more “English” but that was probably wishful thinking, haha. I am putting all my money on sunflowers!


  3. I love Laurie Colwin’s work, I’ve read Home Cooking and More Home Cooking so many times that I think I know them by heart (her chocolate pear pudding is a particular family favorite!). Her prose is also beautiful. I remember reading one of her short stories and thinking that I could never write a sentence as beautifully as she did. So sad that she died young.


    1. I’m glad you got a few! Mine have bitten the dust. I’m ready to empty all my pots and put them in storage until fall. It is just too hot here!


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