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This Is Not the Story You Think It Is...: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

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Overview

Laura Munson's essay in the New York Times, about the time she was tested in a way she never anticipated, created a firestorm-now here's the whole story.

When Laura Munson's essay was published, The New York Times was so flooded with responses that they had to close down the comment feature. Readers wrote in saying that they had sent the column to all of their friends. Therapists wrote Munson to tell her that ...

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This Is Not the Story You Think It Is...: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

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Overview

Laura Munson's essay in the New York Times, about the time she was tested in a way she never anticipated, created a firestorm-now here's the whole story.

When Laura Munson's essay was published, The New York Times was so flooded with responses that they had to close down the comment feature. Readers wrote in saying that they had sent the column to all of their friends. Therapists wrote Munson to tell her that they were passing it out to their clients.

What did Munson write that caused such a fervor?

Laura detailed what happened when her husband of more than twenty years told her he wasn't sure he loved her anymore and wanted to move out. And while you might think you know where this story is going, this isn't the story you think it is. Laura's response to her husband: I don't buy it.

In this poignant, wise, and often funny memoir, Munson recounts a period of months in which her faith in herself-and her marriage-was put to the test. Shaken to the core after the death of her beloved father, not finding the professional success that she had hoped for, and after countless hours of therapy, Laura finally, at age forty, realized she had to stop basing her happiness on things outside her control and commit herself to an "End of Suffering." This Is Not The Story You Think It Is... chronicles a woman coming to terms with the myths we tell ourselves-and others-about our life and realizing that ultimately happiness is completely within our control.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A kind of colloquial diary composed during the rocky summer her husband was suffering a midlife crisis, debut author Munson aims to convince the reader, in her chatty, self-absorbed narrative, that her hard-won serenity helped conquer her husband's shakiness at committing himself to their future together. When her husband (who remains nameless) announced his uncertainty that he loved her, then embarked on bizarrely atypical behavior, leaving her and their two children, eight and 12, wondering where he was, Munson had her own notions about what was ailing him, reinforced by mountains of self-help books and therapists: his job was failing, he was drowning in debt, and he was worried about losing their fabulous 20-acre horse-and-ski farm in rural Montana. Munson hoped he could regain a sense of “gratitude” for what they had, namely 15 years of a loving family. Munson urged her husband to take a trip, as she had just returned from a month-long rejuvenating stint to Italy, or even helicopter lessons, yet his resentment of her ran deeper than she cared to confront. She concentrated on what she could control, namely creating a nice home and throwing herself into community activism, then witnessed with joy her husband's gradual coming around. Unfortunately, Munson's journey doesn't ring entirely convincing or forthright, and if the title truly reflected her marital crisis, the reader might run the other way. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425238998
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 264,650
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Munson lives with her family in Montana, where she writes novels, memoirs, short stories, and essays. This is her first published book.
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Table of Contents

Are You There, Clarence? It's Me, George Bailey's Wife 1

The Cloud of Unknowing 16

Rilke's World at Play in Rumi's Field 27

Reality, Cockroaches, Bums in the Basement, and Microbrew 37

Montana 55

My Father's Blue Duesenberg 72

The Italy Cure 91

Epiphany 105

No Grace Period 120

My Evil Twin Sister Sheila 140

The Supercool Wife 159

The God of the Fourth of July 173

The Conversation 192

Unlikely Happiness 207

Free Fall 224

Heart-Shaped Rock 243

Derailed 258

Community 277

His Sister's Gift 287

The Good Fight 303

Indian Summer 310

Two Balloons 323

Thanksgiving 329

Epilogue 336

The Perversely Vertical Half-Cracked and Sometimes Devoured Stack of Books on My Bedside Table 338

Acknowledgments 341

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    For anyone in an imperfect marriage

    Isn't that everyone? I recently happened upon a speaking engagement in which Laura Munson talked about this book. The subject matter definitely intrigued me, because I have found myself floundering in my marriage at times. This book shows the other side of the story that you usually hear. Her husband tells her after 20 years that he is not sure if he loves her anymore. Usually at this point, there is an empowering story of starting over. However, this story is about hanging in through really tough times, in the hope that this crisis will pass. It is not as simple as it sounds, but I believe that the author is very brave for attempting it. This book has given me another perspective when it comes to marital discord. It just shows that we all have choices, and you never really know how life is going to turn out.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2010

    This Is Not A Book You Want to Read

    This book was annoying on so many levels. In this book, the author claims that she is in control of her own happiness and that nothing that goes on around her, including hostility, neglect, rejection, disrespect and more from her husband, will take away from her happiness. Well, maybe she is happy. But she and her husband are teaching their children everything right about staying in unhealthy relationships. The parents chose to stay in an unhealthy relationship for the sake of the kids. I have a hard time understanding exactly what was saved and what this taught their children. Are the children now going to treat their future spouses the way the author's husband treated her? Or perhaps they will think it okay to be mis-treated by someone, or even abused. This was not an original story; rather, it was a familiar, sad story about emotional abuse. Frost it however you like.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2010

    She is so in my head

    I am not yet quite finished with this book, but I've been smitten with it from the first chapter. Without arrogance, the author shares how she wisely handled an extremely challenging period of marital discord. Most of us would have flipped out on our husbands if they behaved the way hers did, and there are times when I do want her to just tell him off. But to what purpose? She shows us that the purpose and long term outcome are what matters, not our ego or emotions of the moment.
    We can all learn from this, not just how to handle marital problems, but all relationships.
    The writing is honest and easy to read, yet intelligent. She expresses herself so well that the reader gets a deep sense of who she is. The food and cooking writing is wonderful!
    Laura is so deep inside my head at this point that I've found myself wondering how she would handle specific situations. An inspiring and enjoyable book.
    I look forward to that backlog of her novels that will almost certainly get published now.
    Thank you Laura for sharing this amazing experience with us. And thank your husband too.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    Riveting marriage "Owner's Manual"

    As a member of the healthcare profession, and priveleged previewer of this book pre-release date, I must say that I heartily wish I could hand out this book to all my clients. No roadmap of the American marriage should be travelled without this wise, rocky, and witty sidetrip commentary for the survival of the inevitable marital pothole. How to get to the other side, in beautiful and funny language from the heroic Laura Munson. Read, listen, laugh, cry, learn... and survive the trip. Kudos and five big stars to this brave and terrific storyteller!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    An unforgettable, unpredictable 'marital adventure.'

    Thoroughly provocative. Munson's angle and attitude are unique. She meets her challenge head-on, with astounding courage and compassion.
    You're drawn right in to confront her 'crisis' in real time, right alongside her.
    As fun and funny as it was gut-wrenching -- completely absorbing.
    I loved rooting for her and will always remember the 'lessons learned.'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Liked it very much

    Munson is a good writer. Slow to get going but with many brilliant pasages later. Just like jewels on a long silver necklace. Especially enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of nature, and the hard-to-put-into-words feelings she conveys. I'll be on the lookout for a novel one of these days!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2013

    A Season of Unlikely Happiness: This Is Not the Story You Think

    A Season of Unlikely Happiness: This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Literary Evaluation
    Fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a thrilling, real-life journey with Laura Munson as you indulge in the pages of her memoir, A Season of Unlikely Happiness. If you are in need of some quality relationship and self healing guidance, this book is a must read. Munson uses a down-to-earth, realistic approach to her readers as she delivers the company of a therapist, novelist, and best friend all in the palms of your hands. The language she utilizes makes it an easy read and you can feel yourself slipping into her shoes. The mental illustrations she creates for the reader allows us to learn from her experiences. No matter what age you are or what type of struggles you are having, Laura Munson will teach you how to cope. A Season of Unlikely Happiness is a therapeutic, excellent read for men and women of all ages who need help dealing with the grey areas of their lives.
    After nine days of learning that her husband no longer loves her, you would assume that Munson's world would come crashing down. How would she be able to come up with enough energy to keep her devotion to her young children and to completing her daily writing tasks for work? Munson teaches her readers that we all have a choice- to either suffer, or simply to not. Sounds a lot easier said than done, right? Wrong! Munson's memoir takes you hand in hand with her through her journey of teaching herself not to suffer. We learn that the biggest thing in life is to stop "wanting" and start "creating." Although the writing does not end with a fairytale cliche ending, in a way it does. We, as readers, gain a sense of self love and assurance. With that, we can conquer any battle or climb any mountain, as Munson, in other words, preaches.
    Due to the fact that Munson uses a very realistic writing style, I actually found that it was a much more enjoyable read. I feel that when you are reading something that is meant to be therapeutic, an extensive vocabulary and background information are things that are not needed. She excludes these from her reading and practically keeps it naked- everything is out on the table. We are able to create a mental image of what the author is going through, and she calls us out on things that we are most likely thinking as we are reading. Just the fact that Munson had the idea of helping people through her writing makes me feel like she is a great author. She says in her memoir, "That's what this book is all about. Maybe it will help people. Maybe even save marriages, and jobs, and children's hearts from breaking. I wish I had this book on my bedside table right now. If only just to know that I am not alone" (15). And that is exactly how I felt while reading it- I was never alone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    Loved loved loved this book! I bought it years ago, and have rea

    Loved loved loved this book! I bought it years ago, and have read it over 5 times cover to cover.  I leave it in my car and read it whenever I have the chance! Laura Munson tells this story with such wisdom and hilarity it makes it an excellent read! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    :(

    I couldnt even get a quarter of the way through. i do not recommend this book.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    An OKAY story

    This book is part self help, part memoir. The author is raw in her reflections and that is interesting. Her rambling writing style captures how the mind races when in crisis.

    However, for someone who has read a lot of self-empowerment books, and received lots of "enlightenment" from Sunday messages... this book really doesn't bring anything new to the table. Would I recommend anyone pay $10 for it? Probably not. Buy it used, borrow it from the library or something.

    Although, I will say that this book reminds me how important it is to communicate in a marriage and be each others mirror. If you think your husband is toiling away at a fruitless task... you really oughta help him re-evaluate before he has a midlife crisis/breakdown.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2011

    Medicine For The Journey

    As a horsewoman and therapeutic riding instructor, I know timing is everything. Reading this well scripted memoir was just what I needed to continue writing my own. As my partner and I struggle with the same life changes, I find solace in Laura's thoughts and ideals. She left out the 'gory' stuff and kudos for that. We can certainly fill in the blanks with our own gore. I' m not one to reread books--save that for the movies-- but I don''t think I'll archive this one just yet. Nice work, Laura.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    Honest and tender story

    not what I expected, as the title suggested - but better.

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A story of a woman working to keep her family together, choosing happiness over suffering

    This Is Not The Story You Think It Is. . . A Season of Unlikely Happiness is the true account of a woman who married her college sweetheart and their "happily ever after." They were young, beautiful, successful -- they grew careers and built their lives together. They moved to Montana and lived surrounded by the mountains and grounded by nature. Then suddenly, things fell apart. Laura's husband of fourteen years suddenly announced that he needed to be alone, that he couldn't say that he loved her and that he wasn't sure that he had ever loved her. Faced with the destruction of the life and family that she loved, Laura Munson fought -- for her husband, her marriage, and her sense of self. And through it all, Munson wrote. This Is Not The Story You Think It Is is Munson's account her strategy to overcome the crisis in her marriage. Wise and funny, it's written with love -- it's about a person going through a tough time and trying not to suffer, albeit she is not always successful. It's the story of a person choosing happiness over suffering and of working to remain well-adjusted. And teaching your children how to live.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2010

    A Wonderful and Honest Memoir

    I heard about this book on MPR and was interested to read it. It delivered. It is written so honestly about her emotions and feelings about herself, her husband, her marriage, her life. She admits to feelings that are hard to talk about but I would guess most of us have. A provocative look at how we can control our own happiness but how challenging that premise can be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    Great Story Told Straight from the Heart

    This book appealed to me because of the author's determination to save her marriage. It is refreshing to read about old fashion values and her unshakeable faith in keeping her family together, especially when all society and the media tout otherwise. She was smart enough to see through her husband's midlife crisis and not succumb to his unhappiness. his dissatisfaction with life, and inability to love himself. She kept up a front for her children's sake even though she went through incredible suffering and pain, and managed to evolve and better herself in the process. Sometimes it takes something really big to make us change, and her husband's crisis was her catalyst. There is a lot written about long-term marriages but very few with practical, real-life situations as so vividly described in this book. She sprinkles stories about her youth, her love of Italy, and the Montana lifestyle she had grown to love. This is a beautiful story about the love of family and preserving the institution of marriage through thick and thin. Women also need to support each other because many of us will go through similar experiences, and sometimes we just need someone to listen to us or to bounce things off of. I have just finished reading this book for the second time and I felt like I just had a conversation with a good friend. I hope she writes a follow up book just so we can learn how she is doing, and if her marriage is stronger than before. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are in a long-term, committed relationship.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    looking forward to...

    reading this memoir after reading the story in the new york times!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/fashion/02love.html

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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