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By: Anne Giardini

A first novel - bittersweet and comic - on the elusive nature of happiness, from the eldest daughter of novelist Carol Shields. Maggie, the 31-year-old middle child who is just a little too predictable, is ready for change - but not the kind that swoops down on her in The Sad Truth about Happiness. Maggie's roommate Rebecca devises questionnaires for women's magazines, and she is convinced her newest one can predict the exact date of death of anyone who answers the questions honestly.

Rebecca, they learn, is going to live to a healthy old age. When Maggie fills it in she is puzzled to discover that she'll live to be 132 years old, until she realises that in fact the test is telling her she actually has only 132 days more, and is scheduled to die shortly before her next birthday. The fact that she has answered the 'are you happy' question with a 'no' appears to have shaved decades off her life expectancy, and she resolves to live differently; if she can become happy in her three remaining months, perhaps she can wrest her fate free of the prediction.

But with wry comedy, Maggie's life takes a dramatic turn for the worse from that very moment. Trying to protect her younger sister Lucy from the attentions of a spurned boyfriend, Maggie finds herself on the run with Lucy's newborn child. And this is only the beginning of her problems...

Anne Giardini has written a poignant and sharply witty novel on the bonds between sisters, the pull of home, and the nature of happiness: elusive, fleeting, inspiring, infinitely variable. Her bittersweet portrait of domestic life spiralling out of control is the work of an important new voice and a natural storyteller.