Friday, June 21, 2024

Book Review: A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 25, 2024
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Slightly South of Simple,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Present Day: Keaton Smith is desperate for a fresh start. So when her mother needs someone to put her childhood home in Beaufort, North Carolina, on the market—the home that Keaton didn’t know existed until now—she jumps at the chance to head south. But the moment she steps foot inside the abandoned house, she’s confronted with secrets about grandparents who died before she was born. And as she gets to know her charming next-door neighbor, his precocious ten-year-old son, and a flock of endearingly feisty town busybodies, she soon finds she has more questions than answers.

1976: Rebecca “Becks” Saint James has made a name for herself as the best hostess North Carolina has ever seen. Her annual summer suppers have become the stuff of legend, and locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for an invitation to her stunning historic home. But she’s struggling behind the façade. Becks strives to make the lives of those around her as easy as possible, but this summer she is facing a dilemma that even she can’t solve. And as the end of the season looms, she is brought to a decision she never wanted to make.

As both Keaton and Becks face new challenges and chapters, they are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane, which has protected the secrets, hopes, and dreams of the women in their family for generations. For fans of Summer of ‘69and The Notebook, “A Happier Life is that wistful, sparkling summer song whose notes will long linger in readers’ memories” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author)."

Keaton Smith's life is falling apart in New York City. There's a scandal at her work involving her boyfriend who has betrayed her and she leaves it all behind to return to her grandparents' home in Beaufort, North Carolina. They are putting the house up for sale and this would be a normal situation, except for the fact that no one in her family discusses her deceased grandparents and she didn't even know this house existed. Once Keaton enters her grandparents' house she is surprised to see that it has been unchanged since 1976, which is when her grandparents went missing. The house is like stepping back in time, like a museum. Townsend and Becks, her grandparents, are presumed dead as their car was found in the creek and they were nowhere to be found. Slowly Keaton realizes there may be more to their "disappearance" than initially thought and living in their house amongst their things, she starts to get to know the grandparents she always wondered about. Harvey alternates with Townsend and Beck's point of view in 1976, which also slowly sheds light on their situation and what exactly happened to them. A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey is a family saga that is heartfelt and moving; the coastal setting of Beaufort makes this a delightful beach read. 


My favorite parts of the novel were when Keaton learns more about their grandparents and then when Harvey has the narrative jump to Becks's perspective, this adds to the story even more and fills in the blanks. I will admit that Keaton's storyline did not suck me in like Beck's, as I felt the pacing was much slower. I was rooting for Keaton to find her place in Beaufort, get a better understanding of her family, and maybe even find love.


Becks loved to entertain in Beaufort and hosted incredible dinner parties in A Happier Life. Her marriage to Townsend was seemingly perfect, even if the start was rough. Harvey brought to life Beck and Townsend's story so well, so much so that I was drawn to it a bit more than Keaton's. Townsend and Becks went through so much in their life, whether it was a war separating them or dealing with horrible illnesses, I really enjoyed their story. Lastly, the setting of Beaufort, North Carolina was fantastic. Harvey is a resident there and it truly shows as she knows the town inside and out. After reading A Happier Life, I am determined to visit Beaufort, which seems like a coastal gem.


A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey isn't my favorite of her novels, but I think it's a solid beach read, especially for those who like an emotional tale about family and secrets that span generations. Let me know in the comments below if you are fan of Kristy Woodson Harvey and if A Happier Life is on your summer TBR list.



  1. I'm listening to my second book by her now, so I can't say for sure yet that I'm a fan, but her books always sound so appealing!

    1. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you are done with her novel! I think KWH's books are perfect for summertime. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. I always enjoy books set in the coastal towns of North Carolina! This one sounds like a good mix of family, intrigue, drama, and a coastal setting.

    1. The coastal setting was perfect! There's definitely a good mix of it all in this novel. Thanks for visiting!


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