The Theory of Happily Ever After – Kristen Billerbeck – Revell – Published 1 May 2018
According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.
Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.
The Theory of Happily Ever After is a romantic comedy with a hidden, tender heart.
Maggie might be a doctor on the science of happiness- and she has a bestseller to prove it- but that doesn’t mean she has all the answers. So when her fiancé leaves her for another woman, she is unsure how to move forward. Overwhelmed with the choices she must now make to direct her future research, resume her employment in the same place as her ex, and finish (or actually start) her next book, she finds that ice cream and movies are the only cure. Until her friends drag her on a cruise for singles where, surprise, Maggie is to be a guest speaker. Can Maggie prove to her friends, the handsome stranger who challenges her research, and ultimately to herself that she has the power to change her life and choose what she wants?
I found that I had to really dig deep to enjoy this book. It has an excellent message and a tender heart buried underneath all the distractions and complications, but it took a bit of perseverance to uncover it. I could cope with the endless putting down of herself and whining that Maggie frequently engages in. Sometimes everyone needs to indulge in a little wallowing, right? I could look past the repetition of stating the same things over and over (the word gelato or ice cream is used over 20 times in just the first few chapters. So what if Maggie is eating ice cream. Who cares????!!). I could overlook the friend-shaming and competition over a man’s interest between friends. But the woman shaming, the “dumb and willing” labels of another woman who we know nothing about was just plain juvenile and unnecessary. Yet underneath all that is a story about a woman who is seriously hurting- not from heartbreak over a broken engagement, but from a grief that runs much deeper and from an upbringing that taught her to doubt herself and chase success rather than fulfilment. It was this story of Maggie finally realising the power she has over her own future that I enjoyed.
The Theory of Happily Ever After is an inspirational story and references to Christianity, church and God are sprinkled throughout. Yet the characters remain distinctly human – flaws, jealousy, judgment, mistakes, and all. The setting – a cruise along the Mexico coastline – is a lighthearted setting for this lighthearted novel and plenty of hilarity ensues, mostly at Maggie’s expense.
Sometime inane, sometimes downright ridiculous, The Theory of Happily Ever After is a lighthearted examination of moving forward, finding the right you and following a new path for your life, even if it means standing up to your friends, family, and everything you have been taught all your life. And while a happy ending might not be a solution to problems in the real world, it’s fun (if a little chaotic) to join Maggie on her journey to a happy ending.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Humour, romance, friendship, cruises, science, happiness, employment, writing.
Published: 1 May 2018 by Revell.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 288 pages.