Curtis Sittenfeld, best known for her novel “Prep”, takes on the rom-com genre with “Romantic Comedy”. Meet Sally, a “Saturday Night Live”-like comedy writer, who creates a sketch that mocks the show’s gender social “rule”: Average-looking male counterparts get to date their hot female celebrity hosts. But when the week’s handsome global pop-star host shows up and they immediately click, cynical, relationship-weary Sally grapples with the unlikely possibility of what could be happening between them.
Sittenfeld’s smart and snappy story puts a fresh spin on the conventional trope. Sally denies, and even self-sabotages, their connection. To her, it seems too good to be true. Yes, the man here may be impossibly perfect, but in this modern romance, the obstacle that threatens the fairy tale is all in Sally’s head.
In “Happy Place”, Emily Henry delivers another tender tale of a couple whose happily-ever-after future is uncertain because of clashes of minds and hearts. “The Queen of Beach Reads” ventures into some darker terrain here as characters wrestle with weightier issues of family duty and depression.
A group of best friends reunites for the last time in their annual coastal Maine summer vacation house — their happy place. But college sweethearts Harriet and Wyn, the perfect couple they all aspire to be, secretly broke up months earlier and pretend to still be together for the benefit of the group.
Chapters switch back and forth between the happy past and the very real present. We learn how boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, and collectively root for the boy to get the girl back.
Rye’s own Annabel Monaghan (“Nora Goes Off Script”) returns with another charmer, “Same Time Next Summer”. This is the story of Sam, whose current life seems pretty enviable; she has a high-powered job, a fiancé who’s a doctor, and upcoming nuptials to celebrate. But when she returns to Long Island to tour a wedding venue near her family’s beach house, she runs into the guy who broke her heart when she was 16.
Reminded of summers past, confusing memories emerge for Sam. She considers her picture-perfect life plan and choices for a no-risk future. After the hurt of a love lost, what’s wrong with safe and predictable? But old feelings are ignited, and she’s forced to reevaluate who she’s become, and to find out who she really is. Monaghan captures all the nostalgia of first loves and the magic of beachfront summers with this heartfelt story of second chances.
We meet the wealthy Stocktons and the next generation of women connected to the limestone home. The naïve Georgiana rushes into a relationship with a married man; her sister Darley falls in love with the son of immigrants and walks away from her family’s money and position; and sister-in-law Sasha, whose humble background makes her an interloper, awkwardly navigates her place in the household.
The book explores their private struggles as they grapple with family and relationships. Jackson renders entertaining observations on her characters: wealthy insiders who focus on their outfits and tennis strokes, and an outsider who marries in, only to be dubbed “GD” (“Gold Digger”) by the sisters-in-law.
“Pineapple Street” makes for amusing social commentary about class and the chasm between the haves and the have-nots. The privileged are protected by their wealth, but their woes are familiar and relatable. As it turns out, these imperfect people with seemingly perfect lives, have personal despairs just like the rest of us.