Overview


Best-selling author Mary-Beth Hughes delivers a seductive, deeply human, and sophisticated collection about the universal need to be loved, and the complicated imperfections that jeopardize the ties that bind us.

The stories in Double Happiness are extraordinary portrayals of the ordinariness of life. By pinpointing those moments of discord when personal needs and morality clash with circumstances beyond our control, Hughes challenges our ...
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Double Happiness

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Overview


Best-selling author Mary-Beth Hughes delivers a seductive, deeply human, and sophisticated collection about the universal need to be loved, and the complicated imperfections that jeopardize the ties that bind us.

The stories in Double Happiness are extraordinary portrayals of the ordinariness of life. By pinpointing those moments of discord when personal needs and morality clash with circumstances beyond our control, Hughes challenges our concepts of responsibility, trust, resilience, and betrayal. In “Pelican Song,” a thirty-year-old modern dancer who moonlights as a movie–ticket taker visits her parent’s picturesque home to discover that her stepfather has begun mistreating her too-accommodating mother; “Horse” follows maladjusted honeymooners in Atlantic City whose romantic weekend is saved from emotional catastrophe by a horse that refuses to dive from its pedestal into the ocean; and a holiday in New York City turns from shopping sprees to a young girl’s sharp discovery of her father’s secret life in “Rome.”

With an elegant blend of humor and pathos, Hughes captures the turning points in relationships that make us wonder how well we really know those we love. Double Happiness is a revealing meditation on the fragility of contentment and the lengths we must go to in order to sustain it.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The reader eagerly waits for the hammer to fall in these 11 wickedly drawn stories by the author of Wavemaker II. Hughes’s characters are skillfully delineated modern types, caught off-guard and vulnerable, such as Raymond, the glib, successful writer of “The Aces,” who, while in Rome with his pregnant wife, runs into a former fling that ended badly: “Kind of comic, really, but then he remembered that maybe he’d been a bit of a bastard.” In the marvelously rueful “Blue Grass,” the young woman narrator senses that her longtime lover is becoming less attracted to her, and an unlikely triangle forms as the narrator becomes attracted to her just-buried sister’s boyfriend. Each of the tales opens out to surprising plot twists, such as in “Guidance,” which recounts the surreal adventures of a model who had been living the high life in Tokyo before marrying an older, rich American bad guy, becoming pregnant with twins, and essentially being imprisoned within a walled compound in Jakarta. The resonant title story, set in the aftermath of 9/11 as a mother comes to terms with the loss of her son, caps this intensely moving collection. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Everything about this slender collection of 11 stories from Hughes (Wavemaker II, 2001) rings true except for its ironic title. Two stories set the pattern for the others. In "Guidance," an amusingly nitwit leg model named Fawn, spirited off to Jakarta by her much older bridegroom, offers fatuous observations about Indonesia's deeply polarized economic climate as she gradually reveals what she's scarcely noticed herself: The have-nots have abducted her as a hostage. In "Rome," Olivia, a sensitive daughter necessarily kept blind to the realities of her parents' uneasy marriage, gets a glimmer of their secrets. The other stories feature adults who have to work harder to ignore the harsh facts of life but mostly manage to do so by concentrating obsessively on minutely rendered details. The mother in the lapidary "May Day" thinks about the waves off the marina, the spring flowers-anything but the impending arrival of her estranged daughter Melody. The dutiful dancer in "Pelican Song" does her best to help her mother escape the new husband whose abuse her mother is determined to overlook. The hero of "Roundup" focuses on the breakup of his architectural firm but ignores the more seismic shifts in his family. The title character in "The Widow of Combarelles," juggling problems great and small, only gradually realizes how much deeper her friend Coren's pain is than her own. In "Blue Grass," a young woman struggles to come to terms with her sister's death from cancer through a complex dance of memory and denial. In "Horse," a foundering Atlantic City honeymoon is both mirrored and salvaged by the couple's preoccupation with the famous Diving Horse's refusal to dive. "The Aces," the most conventional of the bunch, uses a second honeymoon to Rome to motivate a series of flashbacks showing the marriage declining because the partners just don't get it. Only the title story, an anti-elegy for a World Trade Center victim, demonstrates explicitly how apt Hughes's title is, for the mourners' happiness is so rare and fleeting that they're doubly happy to feel happy. Agent: Melanie Jackson/The Melanie Jackson Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802196873
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,169,870
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


Mary-Beth Hughes is the author of the best selling novel, Wavemaker II, a New York Times Notable Book. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, and A Public Space. She lives in Brooklyn and Gallatin, NY.
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Table of Contents

Pelican Song 1

Horse 19

Blue Grass 27

Roundup 47

Rome 71

Israel 89

The Widow of Combarelles 97

The Aces 127

May Day 151

Guidance 157

Double Happiness 183

Acknowledgments 201

Reading Group Guide 203

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