Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman
Publisher: Headline Review
Publishing Date: 20th October 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Do you love Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell? If so, Stella Newman is for you!
Is there a formula for happiness?
If it’s Netflix, two-for-one Malbec and the perfect toasted-cheese sandwich, Lenny has it covered. But when her friend Juliet finds herself at rock bottom, Lenny realises it’s going to take more than that to fix her.
Luckily help is at hand in the form of HappyGuru: a plan which promises happiness in seven easy steps. So when Lenny is asked to research it, she puts scepticism aside and persuades Juliet they should give it a go.
The friends quickly find themselves immersed in mindfulness, juice cleanses and death-defying circus stunts. Yet as Juliet becomes increasingly buoyant, things only get more complicated for Lenny.
Can it be that happiness is only seven steps away?
A funny and moving novel of friendship, heartbreak, and the restorative power of melted cheese.
I love Stella Newman books. I just love them, and every new release is a real treat for me, and I’d love Stella to write them quicker and keep them coming! So there, Stella, I’ve said it. There is always food in her stories, and she can really write in a very yummy, suggestive way and the dishes she suggests in her novels are so, so brilliant! This time, in “Seven Steps to Happiness”, there is also food but I couldn’t help thinking that this book was a little different to previous Stella’s books, a little more serious in tone, about different issues and food, yes, it play a major role but I think not as important as in the previous novels. But I’m not saying that it’s wrong, oh no, I think the author has brilliantly captured the essence of the novel and in a great way told us a story of two friends, Lenny and Juliet.
All the characters, not only the main ones, are so, so, so brilliantly written, guys, believe me! I read many books, and almost always the characters are great, but there are only a few authors that can so easily and effortlessly (at least it looks like this for us, readers) capture the characters, their ups and downs and make them feel so realistic, so honest, so genuine and so brilliantly observed! Lenny and Juliet have flaws, they make mistakes and yet I was rooting for them, supporting them in every situation they found themselves in and wanted to knock out all others that were trying to trouble them. Lenny and Juliet are friends, but they couldn’t be more different, even if you asked for it. Juliet got married as a young girl and very quickly became a mum, and now she’s working as a ghost – writer, discovering recipes for a celebrity. I adored her recipes! She was so creative and she was able to combine the most unusual ingredients and create a wonderful, tasty dish. Also, Juliet really thinks she has it all, but when we get to know her, her life is going to fall apart. I loved Juliet, and I wasn’t annoyed with her for not seeing what was coming, as I usually am with the characters that don’t see it, I only wanted to strangle her husband, that’s all. I also wanted to give her a standing ovation when she already overcame her initial shock for the way she dealt with the situation and Matt.
Lenny, the lovely Lenny. I had a feeling that she doesn’t want to show the world her real face, that she’s hiding behind a mask of a strong, resolute and assertive businesswoman, but inside she hides a really soft, warm persona. She was telling she’s happy with her life, but in fact she was missing on having her own family, I think. She was somehow stuck in a rut, both with choosing unsuitable men and sticking in the job that started to make her feel bored. I loved the friendship between Lenny and Juliet, it seemed so genuine and not too forced, all their interactions were so realistic. They haven’t always seen eye to eye, they haven’t always agreed with each other, and Lenny hated Juliet’s husband, but those details made it more true. And at the end of the day those two supported each other and could count on each other, no matter what, and this is what made me like them even more.
There was of course the romance element in the story, and with two female leading characters we could have hoped for more than one, right? What I so, so liked was that both of them were so different and that both the girls were having different problems. As for Lenny, I was DEAD SURE how it’s going to end for her, as soon as this character entered the scenes, because in my opinion there was such a FREAKING chemistry between them, no matter what they said and did and how much they didn’t like each other, and if they didn’t end together I’d be very, very disappointed.
I’m so impressed how down – to – earth and realistic the story sounded. I think you really need to have incredible skills to be able to capture all the things that make life so difficult and dull but also so colourful and optimistic and put it into interesting, hooking words, just like Stella Newman did. She is a brilliant observer of life how it is and she doesn’t beat around the bush, she shows how it really is when you feel lonely, abandoned, when you lose your job and think you have no friends.
So really, with those brilliant characters, great one – liners, sharp dialogues, perfect mix of poignancy and humour, this is a real page – turner and a book not to be missed! Combine it also with food and romance and you can be absolutely sure that you are for a real treat.
“Seven Steps to Happiness” is a story about how everything can change in your life in a heartbeat. How you can be happy and glad and in the next moment you can feel as if you’ve lost everything, or you’ve just lost everything. It shows how different the changing fortunes are. But it also shows that we should never give up, that there is always a way and that we should never allow other to undermine us. The idea of the book was that an app that Lenny was about to test promised happiness in 7 steps, and so Lenny persuaded Juliet to give it a try, but for me personally this book was much, much more than that, although sure, it is about finding happiness. It’s about second chances, it’s brilliantly observed, it’s funny and poignant at the same time, it’s a little sad but also uplifting and I enjoyed every single second of this story. There is a lot of depth in this story and I think that Stella Newman has just started a new chapter in her writing career, as this book really is on a different level – and I’m not saying that her previous novels were worse, because I loved them as much as this one – I’m just saying that it felt a little different, this bit more ambitious, and it truly lived up to my expectations. I’ve got this what Stella Newman got me used to, but I also got much, much more with this story, and I am really already looking forward towards her next release. Highly recommended!