The Big Love

( 120 )

Overview

Alison Hopkins isn't just looking for Mr. Right . . . or even Mr. Big. She's holding out for the Big Love.

When 32-year-old Alison's first real boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her - he steps out to buy mustard for a dinner party and never returns - it's time for Alison to reassess her lifelong search for romantic fulfillment. Does true love even exist? Is every romantic involvement with a coworker inevitably doomed? Does sex without commitment always lead to disaster? Is a ...

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The Big Love

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Overview

Alison Hopkins isn't just looking for Mr. Right . . . or even Mr. Big. She's holding out for the Big Love.

When 32-year-old Alison's first real boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her - he steps out to buy mustard for a dinner party and never returns - it's time for Alison to reassess her lifelong search for romantic fulfillment. Does true love even exist? Is every romantic involvement with a coworker inevitably doomed? Does sex without commitment always lead to disaster? Is a girl's evangelical Christian upbringing an impediment to her finding true happiness?

Funnier than any "chick-lit," as poised and accomplished as any literary debut this year, The Big Love is a big-hearted, hilariously entertaining novel that readers all across America are falling for.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
The cover of The Big Love features a bed and the title in pink neon letters. It is an indication of the kind of opportunity that awaits any heroine in a flirty, effervescent novel of this genre. But the image also evokes, however back-handedly, the book's sense of a higher power. Alison already has one kind of big love in her life when she strikes out in search of something more earthly.It's a testament to this book's sparkle that Ms. Dunn is able to express all this in warm, good-natured fashion without raising hackles.
The New York Times
Donna Freydkin
Before you roll your eyes at yet another hackneyed hunk of chick-lit featuring the requisite eccentrically spunky heroine who gets ditched but ultimately finds true love in the unlikeliest place, give The Big Love, Sarah Dunn's debut novel, a chance. The writing is fresh, the characters are just quirky enough without ever verging on cloying, and the ending — not to give it away — is hardly the happily-ever-after, misty-eyed Cinderella fable we've come to expect from those disposable Bridget Jones knockoffs.— USA Today
Publishers Weekly
The annals of love have recorded many a humiliating breakup over the years, but Alison Hopkins gets hit with a humdinger in this surprising, touching and hilariously deadpan debut novel. When she sends her live-in boyfriend Tom to the supermarket right before a dinner party, she figures the worst that can happen is that he'll get the wrong mustard. Instead he calls from a pay phone to tell her he's not coming back at all, because he's fallen in love with his college sweetheart, Kate Pearce-with whom he's been sleeping for five months. If Alison were a Sex and the City siren, she'd distract herself with martinis, Manolos and misappropriated men, but she's a broke columnist for the floundering weekly The Philadelphia Times. Plus, though now lapsed, she was raised evangelist Christian. So it's a new pair of hiking boots, pie-contest judging and furtive dalliances with a coworker for reluctant good-girl Alison as she tries to gauge the ins and outs of the single world that non-fundamentalists mastered in their early 20s. Alison's struggles to fit into the mainstream world are fresh and full of wisdom, and Dunn's humor is marvelously dry: "Bonnie had a sudden flash of what he might come up with on his own so she drew a picture on a cocktail napkin of a wide band of channel-set diamonds, and she wrote down the words `platinum' and `size six' and `BIG' and `SOON.' " This is a delightful exploration of the empowerment that comes from escaping a Big Love turned Bad Love. 5-city author tour. Agent, Nicholas Ellison. (July 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When Alison Hopkin's boyfriend, Tom, whom she thought was "the one," decides to leave her right in the middle of a dinner party, Alison is understandably upset. She is also shocked, in denial, hurt, and ultimately furious. To make matters worse, things aren't going so well on the professional front either. Alison's editor at a Philadelphia alternative newspaper has bypassed her for promotion and instead hires Henry. Alison soon finds herself pretty darn attracted to Henry, but after all, isn't she supposed to be in love with Tom? We sympathize and agonize along with Alison as she struggles to identify the man of her dreams, find professional happiness and success, and finally become an adult. Written with charm and warmth, this entertaining first novel by a TV writer will attract fans of Helen Fielding, Jane Green, or Jennifer Weiner. Recommended for any public library with young and hip romantic fiction readers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/04.]-Margaret Hanes, Sterling Heights P.L., MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316010788
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 982,470
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author


SARAH DUNN was a senior writer for Murphy Brown and the executive story editor for Spin City. She was a co-producer of Veronica's Closet before leaving TV to write fiction full time. She has been published in Mademoiselle, Glamour, and Sojourner. She lives in New York City.

ELIZA FOSS has appeared in numerous theatrical productions, regionally and in New York. Having narrated over thirty audiobooks and short stories, Eliza was featured in AudioFile magazine as one of "audios hottest romance narrators."

Biography

Sarah Dunn was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She went to the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and graduated magna cum laude. After college, she wrote a humor column for the Philadelphia City Paper while waiting tables (poorly) at TGI Fridays. When she was 24, she published The Official Slacker Handbook, and was subsequently lured out to Hollywood to write for Murphy Brown, Spin City and Veronica's Closet. She left TV to work on her first novel, The Big Love, which came out in 2004 and has been translated into 23 languages. She is currently writing a television pilot for NBC called George & Hilly, and her long-awaited second novel, Secrets to Happiness, comes out this spring. She is married to Peter Stevenson, the executive editor of The New York Observer, and they have a chunky delicious new baby boy named Harry.

Good To Know

Dunn's first book, The Official Slacker Handbook, was published in 1994.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 28, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Phoenix, Arizona
    1. Education:
      B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1991

Read an Excerpt

The Big Love


By Sarah Dunn

Little, Brown

Copyright © 2004 Sarah Dunn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-73815-8


Chapter One

TO BE FAIR TO HIM, THERE IS PROBABLY NO WAY THAT TOM could have left that would have made me happy. As it turns out, I'm in no mood to be fair to him, but I will do my best to be accurate. It was the last weekend in September. We were having a dinner party. Our guests were about to arrive. I ran out of Dijon mustard, which I needed for the sauce for the chicken, and so I sent my boyfriend, Tom-my "live-in" boyfriend, Tom, as my mother always called him-off to the grocery store to get some. "Don't get the spicy kind," was, I'm pretty sure, what I said to him right before he left, because one of the people coming over was my best friend, Bonnie, who happened to be seven months pregnant at the time, and spicy food makes Bonnie sweat even more than usual, and I figured that the last thing my dinner party needed was an enormous pregnant woman with a case of the flop sweats. It turned out, though, that that was not the last thing my dinner party needed. The last thing my dinner party needed was what actually happened: an hour after he left, Tom called from a pay phone to tell me to go ahead without him, he wasn't coming back, he didn't have the mustard, and oh, by the way, he was in love with somebody else.

And we had company! I was raised in such a way that you didn't do anything weird or impolite or even remotely human when you had company, which is the only way I can explain what I did next. I calmly poked my head into the living room and said, "Bonnie, can you come into the kitchen for a second?"

Bonnie waddled into the kitchen.

"Where's Tom?" Bonnie said.

"He's not coming," I said.

"Why not?" she said.

"I don't know," I said.

"What do you mean, you don't know?"

"He said he's not coming home. I think he just broke up with me."

"Over the phone? That's impossible," Bonnie said. "What were his exact words?"

I told her.

"Oh my God, he said that?" she said. "Are you sure?"

I burst into tears.

"Well, that is completely unacceptable," Bonnie said. She hugged me hard. "It's unforgivable."

And it was unforgivable, truly it was. What made it unforgivable, as far as I was concerned, was not merely that Tom had ended a four-year-long relationship with no warning, or that he had done so over the telephone, or even that he had done it in the middle of a dinner party, but also this: the man had hung up before I had a chance to say so much as a single word in reply. That, it seemed to me, was almost inconceivable. What made it unforgivable as far as Bonnie was concerned was that she was sure the whole thing was nothing more than a ploy of Tom's to keep from having to propose to me anytime soon. She actually articulated this theory while we were still hugging, thinking it would calm me down. "Men are trying to avoid getting married," Bonnie said to me. "It doesn't look fun to them." She stroked my hair. "Their friends who are married look beaten down."

As if on cue, Bonnie's husband Larry walked into the kitchen with a striped dishrag tucked into the waistband of his pants, carrying two plates of chicken marsala. Larry was very proud of his work with the chicken. When Tom hadn't shown up on time with the mustard, Larry came up with the marsala concept, and made it by picking the mushrooms out of the salad. One thing I will tell you about Larry is that he cheated on Bonnie when they were dating, he cheated on her left and right in fact, but now here he was, father of two, maker of chicken marsala, the very picture of domestic tranquillity. He was beaten down, maybe; but he was beaten down and faithful.

"Tom's not coming," Bonnie said to Larry. "He says he's in love with somebody else."

"Who is he in love with?" Larry asked.

I knew who he was in love with, of course. I hadn't even bothered to ask. He was in love with Kate Pearce. And I knew it! I knew it! Bonnie knew it too-I could tell by the look on her face. Bonnie and I had been conferring on the subject of Tom's old college girlfriend Kate for quite some time, actually-ever since she had invited Tom out for the first of what would turn out to be a series of friendly little lunches, an event which incidentally happened to coincide with Bonnie's acquisition of a Hands Free telephone headset. I mention the Hands Free telephone headset only because once she got it, pretty much all Bonnie wanted to do was talk on the phone.

"Tom started doing sit-ups last night during Nightline," I told Bonnie during one of our phone calls. "Do you think that means anything?"

"Probably not," Bonnie said.

"I don't think a person all of a sudden starts doing sit-ups one day for no reason," I said.

"A few weeks ago Rocky was on TNT, and the next day Larry set up his weight-lifting bench in the garage, so it could be nothing."

"Did he say who?" Larry asked me. He put the chicken marsala down on the kitchen counter. "Did he tell you who he's in love with?"

"He's in love with Kate Pearce," I said. There was something incredibly painful about saying that sentence out loud. I sat down at the kitchen table and quickly amended it: "At least, he thinks he's in love with her."

"It's probably just a fling," said Bonnie.

"Is that allowed?" said Larry.

"Of course it's not allowed," Bonnie said. "I just mean, maybe it'll blow over."

"You've never seen her," I said. "She's beautiful."

"You're beautiful," Bonnie said, and then she reached across the table and patted my hand, which had the effect of making me feel not beautiful at all. Nobody ever pats a beautiful person's hand when they tell them that they're beautiful. It's just not necessary.

My friend Cordelia came into the kitchen to see what was going on, and I took one look at her and burst into tears again. Cordelia burst into tears, too, and I got up from the table and we stood there on the gray linoleum for what seemed like forever, hugging each other the way you do when there is a dead relative involved. It wasn't until much later that I found out that Cordelia, at that moment, thought there actually was a dead relative involved, and if she had known the true state of affairs she wouldn't have cried nearly as much. She is very philosophical about matters of the heart, philosophical in the way that it's only possible to be if you have been married once already and have absolutely no intention of doing so ever again. Cordelia was married to Richard for just under two years. They had what they deemed the usual problems, so they tried the usual solution: they went into therapy together. In the open, mutually accepting atmosphere fostered by their marriage counselor, Richard confessed to Cordelia that he was into amateur pornography. Cordelia thought, okay, not an ideal situation perhaps, but human sexuality is a complicated thing, and she could keep an open mind about her husband's little peccadilloes. Thus emboldened, Richard went on to make what would turn out to be a pivotal clarification-he was, it turned out, in amateur pornography-and Cordelia realized that her mind was not that open.

"Well, he can't break up with you over the phone," Cordelia said, after Bonnie told her what had happened. "You live together. You own a couch together."

"I've never told you this before," Bonnie said to me, "but I've always hated that couch."

"Tom picked it out," I said. This made me start crying again. "I didn't want him to think that moving in with me meant he wouldn't get to pick out couches anymore."

"That couch," Bonnie said to Larry, "is why I don't let you pick out couches."

Shortly after that, Bonnie went out into the living room and sent the rest of the guests home. Then she and Larry cleaned up the kitchen so I wouldn't have to wake up to a big pile of dirty dishes. Then Cordelia tucked me into bed with a bottle of wine. I told them I wanted to be alone, and the three of them finally left.

You should probably know that my first thought after I hung up the phone with Tom was that the thing with the ring was probably a mistake. What had happened was this: some months before, I happened upon a picture of an engagement ring I liked in a magazine, and I'm ashamed to tell you that I cut it out, and I'm even more ashamed to tell you that I did, in fact, slip it into Tom's briefcase while he was in the bathroom taking a shower. I did not expect him to run out the next day and buy the ring. I thought it was information he might want to have on file at some indeterminate time in the future. When Larry asked Bonnie what kind of engagement ring she'd like, she said she didn't want a solitaire, she wanted something different, and he said fine, different, I can do that, and Bonnie had a sudden flash of what he might come up with on his own-Larry being a man who once staple-gunned two old brown towels over his bedroom window and left them hanging there for four years-so she drew a picture on a cocktail napkin of a wide band of channel-set diamonds, and she wrote down the words platinum and size six and BIG and SOON. Larry dutifully took the napkin to a jeweler, and now Bonnie has on her finger something that looks like a very sparkly lug nut.

Of course, it's possible I'm putting too much emphasis on the whole business with the ring, but I tend to zero in on one detail and skip over everything else. I always have. I took a life drawing class in college, and at the end of the first two-hour session the only thing I had on my sketchpad was an exquisite rendering of the model's gigantic uncircumcised penis. But, well: Obviously I shouldn't have put the picture of that ring in Tom's briefcase. Obviously I should have put my foot down about the Kate stuff from the very beginning. I see that all clearly now. It just never entered my mind that Tom would actually have an affair! That's a lie. It entered my mind constantly, but whenever I brought it up Tom would assure me I was being crazy. "I can't live this way," he'd say to me. "If you don't trust me, maybe we should just end this now," he'd say to me. And he'd be so calm and cool and logical that I'd think: He's right, this is my stuff, this is my paranoia, this is happening because my father left when I was five, I was in an Oedipal stage, I have an irrational fear of abandonment, and I need to get over it. And then I'd be hit by a thought like, "Don't crush the sparrow, hold it with an open hand; if it comes back to you it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was." And I'd be fine, in a real Zen state, and then I'd try to remember where the sparrow thing came from, which would make me think of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince even though there is actually no connection beyond a sort of dippy adolescent obviousness, which would make me think of Tom's most cherished possession-a dippy hand-painted Little Prince T-shirt made for him in college by Kate, the same Kate he was busy lunching with-and I'd be right back where I started.

"Listen," I said to Tom during one of our discussions about Kate. "I just don't feel comfortable with you having lunch with your old girlfriend all the time."

"I'm capable of being friends with a person I used to go out with," Tom said. "You're still friends with Gil."

"First of all, I'm not still friends with Gil," I said. "Second of all, Gil is gay, so even if I were still friends with him, it wouldn't count, because he's not interested in having sex with me. When he was having sex with me he wasn't interested in having sex with me."

"Kate has a boyfriend," Tom said. I rolled my eyes. "She and Andre live together," he said. I stifled a snort. "I'm not going to have this conversation anymore," he said, and then he left to go play squash.

Not that all this fighting did me any good. He just kept on having lunch with her. He even wanted me to have lunch with her! He gave her my work number and everything. "Kate's going to call you next week. She wants to have lunch with you," he said. I spent an entire weekend mulling over my plan. I decided I wouldn't call her back. I wouldn't answer my phone and when I got her message I'd just never call her back and she'd get the picture and then do you know what happened? She never called! I should have known then what I was dealing with. Not that knowing would have done any good. When a woman like Kate Pearce wants your boyfriend, I don't think there's much you can do to stop it.

I don't mean to make it sound like Tom had no part in this. I warned him. "She doesn't just want to be friends with you," I'd say. "That's not how women like that operate," I'd say. "She's not going to stop until she has sex with you." Tom had even wanted to invite her to our dinner party that night! "She doesn't have many friends," he said. Right, I thought. First I invite her to a dinner party and then she insinuates herself into my circle of friends and the next thing you know she's nailing my boyfriend. I know how these things work, I thought. Unfortunately I didn't know how this particular thing was working, because Kate had skipped the preliminaries. She already was nailing my boyfriend. She'd been doing it for five months!

"We don't have enough chairs for Kate and Andre," I said to Tom when he suggested the dinner party invitation.

"It would just be Kate," Tom said. "And I'll sit on a folding chair."

"What happened to Andre?" I said.

"He's not in the picture anymore," Tom said.

"What do you mean he's not in the picture anymore?" I said.

"They broke up. I thought you knew that."

"How could I possibly know that?"

You're probably wondering, if this affair had been going on for five months, how come Tom hadn't moved out earlier. Which is an excellent question. We weren't married. We didn't have any kids. He could have broken up with me and then moved out and then started seeing Kate and through it all kept his moral compass pointing north. But, as it turned out, Tom hadn't done any of those things in the proper order because Kate wanted to take it slow! And he didn't want to scare her off! Like she was a baby deer in a forest clearing or something! The most disturbing part, however, is the reason Kate wanted to take things slow. Apparently, Andre's mother was sick, very sick-sick with advanced pancreatic cancer in fact-and Kate didn't think it would be fair to walk out on him in his time of need. So there was Tom, waiting for Andre's mother to die from pancreatic cancer and for a suitable amount of time to pass so that Kate could drop the hatchet on Andre with a clear conscience and then, only then, was he going to get around to breaking up with me. I'm thirty-two years old, people! I don't have that kind of time!

I didn't know any of that stuff the night of the mustard, though. That first night all I really knew for sure was that Tom had been having lunch with his ex-girlfriend all summer and he'd been reading a book of Japanese death poems called Japanese Death Poems.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Big Love by Sarah Dunn Copyright © 2004 by Sarah Dunn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Sarah Dunn, author of The Big Love

THE BIG LOVE begins with one of the most horrible dumping scenarios ever: the boyfriend leaves in the middle of a dinner party, charged with buying some mustard, and never comes back. Ouch! It has all the elements to make it particularly painful: surprise, public humiliation, deceit. Does it come from a true story?
I have had my share of humiliating breakups, but that one was pretty much made up. I knew I wanted it to happen fast, and I wanted the boyfriend, Tom, to disappear from the scene immediately. Mostly I wanted a sort of "unforgivable" breakup, the kind that makes you think there must be a real disconnect between these two people that doesn't reflect well on any of the parties involved.

Tell us a little about your heroine, Alison Hopkins.
She's neurotic and funny and a little out of her mind. She was raised as an evangelical Christian, but she's been in cut-rate psychotherapy for eleven years, and she can't quite make those two parts of herself fit together. She thinks she can control things, she thinks she can outsmart life, and, well, of course she can't.

What parts of her come from you, if any?
My shrink and I have an ongoing debate about this. I feel about Alison the way a bad mother feels about her child-I just want to co-opt all of her. In my mind, she's, oh, 98 percent me, and if I had to pick the 2 percent that wasn't me, I'd have a tough time. She's a tad sweeter than I am. My shrink, and most people who know me well, would say she's only about 70 percent me.

Alison is different from other current literary heroines because she's not just struggling with singledom. She's also got the big three (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) weighing on her brain, wrestling with how to reconcile her conservative Christian upbringing with the "real" world. How does her past influence her decisions?
Well, most obviously, she's a little crazier around the subject of sex than your average thirtysomething woman. Or, crazier than the average thirtysomething portrayed in our culture at this moment in time-the Sex and the City sort of thing. I think there is this notion that women over the age of, say, twenty-two are incredibly blasé about sex, that there is no conflict or confusion, and my sense is that for a lot of women things are more complicated than that.

Do you think that popular literature has ignored the spiritual part of people's lives?
Well, I would have ignored it if I could. It is a very touchy and strange territory for most people. It makes people very uncomfortable, unless you can all agree to agree on exactly the same thing. I tried very hard to write this book without that component, because I knew it would be hard on my family and some of my friends. The mother of one of my Christian friends got her hands on an advance copy of the book and said, "What in the world happened to Sarah Dunn? She used to be such a nice girl."

This book made me laugh out loud. How did you find so much humor in religious angst?
Well, Woody Allen and Philip Roth did it, and Spalding Gray did it with Christian Science. Really, religious angst is tremendously fertile ground, because it ties up with family and at the same time deals with really fundamental, scary big questions. It's also one of the only ways to do a comic sex novel these days, because the internal conflict is so real. I did not actually exaggerate any of the religious stuff at all. I decided that early on, and held to it. My upbringing was quite mainstream, if you count as mainstream the parts of the country between Manhattan and Hollywood. It just hasn't been portrayed in popular culture with any sort of complexity and depth.

To what would you compare the experience of writing a novel?
It was like having a disease. I'm still not sure if this is because I'm just not that good at it or if it's this hard for everybody, but I started by sitting down at my desk for three hours every morning, six days a week. I did that for a year and wrote 200 pages before I wrote one honest sentence. Then I threw out the 200 pages and started to write what would become THE BIG LOVE.

So it's not like your other writing jobs as a newspaper columnist or a sitcom writer. But are there elements of both that can contribute to writing a novel?
The main difference, I found, was the lack of a deadline. I never thought of myself as a slow writer, but it just turns out that I'm good with deadlines and I'm not good with no deadlines. But my earlier experiences taught me a fundamental principle of creativity, which is that you never save anything. You always give it all, all you have, even if it's for a column that will be lining someone's birdcage or a sitcom that turns out to be an embarrassment. Occasionally, sitting in a writers' room at a sitcom, you would think of a great story and be tempted to not share it-you want to save it for something more important-even though it would solve the problem of that week's episode and everybody could go home early. But if you always give it all, you learn that the well refills itself.

Television is a cutthroat world, but you managed to land on three successful shows-Murphy Brown, Veronica's Closet, and Spin City. What did those experiences teach you about entertaining people?
Most of what I learned I had to forget. But I'd say about 15 percent was invaluable. I discovered that a scene is much easier to write if something actually happens in it, if there is conflict, if it moves the story forward. I learned a lot about cutting, a lot about story, a lot about rewriting. I'm slowly being introduced to the "book world," and the problem with going from TV to books is that, invariably, when that part of my résumé comes up in a conversation, say at a dinner party, somebody will say to me, "I don't own a television." And let me tell you, no one who doesn't own a television in the year 2004 isn't extremely proud of that fact. So book people love to tell me that. It's like, if I said I used to be a chef, would people say, "Oh. I don't eat food"?

THE BIG LOVE is set in another world you know: the alternative newspaper. Is there a certain esprit de corps that unites those newsrooms? Or is it just the common bond of poverty?
Well, there is. It was a lot of fun. I was very young, just out of college, and the poverty part of the equation didn't bother me. I wrote a column about being poor, and how I knew I was poor because I never had toilet paper, paper towels, and coffee filters in the house at the same time-I would find myself using a paper towel as a coffee filter, or I'd wipe up spills with wads of toilet paper, and eventually I'd end up with a stack of coffee filters on the back of the toilet tank. So the best part of life at an alternative newspaper is all the free stuff: free books, free CDs, free tickets, free meals.

Foreign rights to THE BIG LOVE have been sold in ten countries. How do you think the book and its characters will translate to other cultures?
I have no idea. The whole thing makes me feel like a cultural imperialist in the worst way. Why should my book be translated into Polish? Shouldn't some Polish person's first novel get published in Poland instead of mine? Honestly, I find it a little disturbing.

What advice would you give other first novelists?
When I started writing this book, I was always worrying about upsetting one of my friends or family by "borrowing" a very intimate detail from their life or using the name of their firstborn child for a really mean character, and I would have the urge to stop writing and immediately call them up and ask for permission. Instead, I decided to write down all of my worries on little scraps of paper and to put them into a coffee can I kept on my desk next to my computer. The plan was that when I was finished with the book, I would open up the can and make all the calls at once. What happened was this: I wrote what I wanted to write, I borrowed what I wanted to borrow, I did not pull a single punch, and at some point, on a move between Los Angeles and New York, I lost the coffee can. And that seems like a good way to write a novel.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions from the Publisher

1. Do you think there is a bigger meaning to "the big love" of the title?

2. Have you ever been dumped unexpectedly? How did you react?

3. How did you think Alison's Christian background influenced her decisions? Did it seem to play a big role in the way she lived her life or was it more incidental?

4. How did the book's humor change the tone of the book? How would it have been different without the joking attitude?

5. Did Alison's archenemy strike a chord? Have you had any longstanding rivalries?

6. How important were Alison's friends in her life and her decisions? Did you think she should have listened to them more, or less?

7. Do you think Alison made the right choice by not taking Tom back? What about rejecting Matt? Would you have done the same?

8. What do you think Alison's decision is at the end of the book? Or did she even make one? What do you think happens next?

9. If it were you - what would you do?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The flow of it was great

    I read this book in one sitting. I enjoyed every minute of it. Would read this one again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2009

    Fun, easy read!

    Any girl, woman, young or old should read this book. It is light hearted and fun with little twists and turns here and there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    rainy day read

    good rainy day chick lit read. Its definately not another book about a chubby writer living a fabulous life in the city- finally! this book is a great change of pace :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2008

    AMAZING

    I loved the book. I couldn't put it down, Allison reminded me of myself and I love Sarah Dunn's writing style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2007

    A reviewer

    Funny not what I thought it was going to be about. But an interesting story line and intersting twists to a girls life as she thinks it should be compaired to what it turned out to be. I would definatly recommend this book for someone who wants to sit and laugh. A great weekend book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2007

    Fun, Quick Read

    I read this book in an afternoon. It was fun and I appreciated Alison's struggle with her spirituality.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2006

    Book on Audio, Smiling in my car

    I enjoyed listening to The Big Love on CD while driving. It was easy to identify with Alison and her ups and downs (and humiliation, disappointment,uncertainty, over-reaction and triumph). The pleasant voice of reader Eliza Foss smoothly handled the long sentences. This book made me laugh.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2006

    Great Book

    This is one of the best 'chick lit' novels that I have read, and trust me, I've read a lot of them. Alison, the main character, is very quirky. Sarah Dunn has a blunt writing style that's fresh and keeps you laughing. I couldn't put this book down!! I'd definitely recommend it to anyone, especially us ladies who know what it's like to constantly have guy troubles.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    amusing and intelligent

    Alison and Tom prepare to host a dinner party with some friends when she realizes that she is out of Dijon mustard needed to make a sauce for the chicken she is cooking. Tom goes to the grocery store to buy some, but instead of returning with non-spicy mustard, he calls an hour later to inform Alison that he is not coming back because he loves someone else. Tom demands that Alison not write a word of how he broke up their relationship in her weekly column she writes for the Philadelphia Times, a floundering Village Voice wannabe.---- Tom, who met his college sweetheart for lunch periodically, went back to the beautiful Kate Pearce, with whom he has been sleeping with for several months. A broke Alison, with the encouragement of her pregnant friend Bonnie seeks THE BIG LOVE. She meets males including her boss on sex quests, but though she partakes with some she keeps asking what about Henry, her peer at the paper? He does not seek her scalp for his jock strap, but instead provides support to the bewildered Alison.---- THE BIG LOVE is an amusing and intelligent observation of how a thirty-two years old female reacts to her live-in lover dumping her. Alison who narrates much of the chick lit tale is a lively protagonist wondering whether she wants Tom to return to her (could King and Alison's girlfriends be right that ¿They Always Come Back¿?) or find her BIG LOVE as Tom obviously is not. With a strong support cast, Sarah Dunn provides a witty account of recovering and exploring life following a ¿Big Love¿ dumping.---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2014

    my friend gave me this book because she believed i would relate

    my friend gave me this book because she believed i would relate to it.
    im 20 yrs old and never been in that situation but her feelings and thoughts really stuck me.
    she always had some things to think about when she read it and now we are handing it off to my other best friend so we all can 
    discuss. it was good read that really gets you thinking about how complicated life is and quick read which is also nice. 
    if you don't like "short stories within stories" (she uses them to explain things) then you wont like this book it has a lot. i admit sometimes i would skim a bit so i could get to the point but for the most part it was nice to hear the insight. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Okay

    This book is not what I thought. It came up in a search for Christian chick lit....this is not a christian book. At points it seemed anti-christian. I kept reading thinking it would get better. No such luck. It was hard to follow and rambled on for pages. Wish I could get my money back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Did not enjoy this book

    Disappointing book =(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Hmmmm....

    Im on page 30, i hope this book gets better because right now im kind of bored with it, but i keep reading all the great comments everyone is writting on how much they loved it, so im hoping im wrong and i will end but liking it, not so much right now though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2010

    Okay

    This was an okay book. I had a hard time relating to the characters and it just filled a few hours of my time. I kept expecting the main character to develop a backbone.

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  • Posted October 31, 2010

    UGH....

    I didn't care for this book. What I thought to set out to be a good, quick read, turned out to be total torture! There were times I only read the book for 20 minutes! The character rambled on and on and the story went all over the place. Maybe the style of writing is what annoyed me the most. IDK... But I was happy to finally finish that book.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Funny love

    This was a nice first read with my Nook. Funny and hard to put down. Good characters, nice short read.

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    Loving BIG LOVE

    Love the Book, I actually read it in One day, It was very Interesting on thinking that the Book was going to end one way and it didnt... Very good Book.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Size Matters

    The premise of THE BIG LOVE sounded interesting (despite the generic, unimaginative title), and it sounded like a light, easy read. Something you could bring to the beach, read outdoors at the park, or read in a comfy chair during a rainstorm. I was right. It was a light, breezy read, and I loved the opening wherein the main character, Alison, gets dumped by her longtime boyfriend after he goes out one day for mustard, just before they're supposed to be hosting a party. It was clever, funny, and, of course, hurtful. Something we've all been through before and can relate to in one shape or form.

    The novel reads like a memoir and, to me, it seems obvious that the author is writing this from personal experience and has taken notes from her own personal diary/journal. Thus, the memoir-like writing style. She writes the break-up and its subsequent devastation with familiarity and clarity.

    It was also quite obvious that Sarah Dunn, the author, has watched "When Harry Met Sally..." too many times to count, just like myself. Much of the dialogue reminded me of Nora Ephron's dialogue from the movie. And I could easily see Meg Ryan playing the part of Alison of the movie version of THE BIG LOVE. I think Dunn could, too, and that's why she wrote it that way.

    My disappoint with this, Dunn's first novel, is that it jumpstarts out of the gate and then lags behind in the final stretch. You start out feeling sympathetic for Alison and as the book goes on, she gets more annoying and analytical about her relationships and actions. You realize why Tom, her ex-boyfriend, wanted to leave her in the first place. I think it would have worked better having us liking Alison throughout the entire book instead of just at the beginning. At the same time, Alison disturbingly seems out-of-character in some situations. For example, she questions sleeping with someone during the first week of meeting them. Then we see a flashback to her meeting Tom and she's jumping into bed with him quickly, not overthinking the decision. It just didn't feel right for Alison's character. And certainly didn't help with the sympathy factor we're supposed to feel for Alison.

    At any rate, without overanalyzing the book (like Alison might do with her relationships and sex), it was an enjoyable, quick read overall, but I hope Dunn's future novels have more consistent characters and a little more depth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    New Favorite Book

    I absolutely loved this book. I read it in two days, and I only put it down because I had to go to work. The random tangents make the book feel 'real'. But maybe you have to experience some of the situations in order to appreciate the humor. I recommended it to all of my friends who have been hurt, and to all of my friends who simply think too much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2007

    fresh and new

    I really liked this book. The author writes it as if she is talking personally to the reader. I read it in two days and looked to see if Sarah had wrote anything else. I can't wait for her next book.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews

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