Monday, July 5, 2010

The Secret (Of Happiness) by Demosthenes Armeniades

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Once upon a time, Max the billionaire invited David to his private island where whiz kid golden boys zip around the globe in private jets making millions and living the dream. But all may not be as golden as it seems ... Max wants happiness. David wants his girlfriend back. Marcie wants to avoid getting fired from her cashier job at Wal-Mart. And the Guru knows the answers, or does he? Follow them on a wild roller coaster ride through island paradises, out to space, over the Himalayas and across the Russian tundra to a final showdown in the Texas desert.

The Secret of Happiness, at least according to this book, is for you to go from extreme wealth and privilege to running for your life while being flat broke and homeless.  I'm not sure that would work for me, but it does work for Max Simon the eccentric billionaire who's been bored with the world and while he's content he's not really happy.  He's in a loveless marriage and while he has a successful business he's going through the paces of life, but not fully enjoying them.

When David Finnegan is recruited to join Halcyon he already thinks his life is set.  He's engaged to the woman he's been dating since grade school, he just graduated from law school and has a job lined up with a Wall Street firm, life couldn't be going better.  But when he is recruited by Simon's company and is offered more money that he could even imagine, David is swept off his feet and is flying to the secluded island that Halycon is headquartered on.  This decision is not without it's consequences though, his girl friend leaves him while accusing him of being selfish and not thinking of her.

When Simon and David meet, their relationship is at first friendly but one of boss and employee.  Bonds of trust grow rather quickly between them and before you know it David is named the Trust holder of the contract that controls the company and all of Simon's money, plus David is charged to find a way for Simon to experience one moment of true happiness.  If he succeeds, David will get $10 million dollars.

This is where the story really takes off.  From space flights to treks up the Himalayan mountains to speak to the Guru, Simon tries everything David Suggests.  While all these experiences are unique and happiness inducing none of them truly give him that moment of pure bliss.  It takes being indicted for fraud, going to jail, becoming homeless, broke, and suicidal for Simon to get on the road to pure happiness.  Along the way he meets and falls in love with Marcie, a broke Wal-Mart employee is finds herself homeless as well.  It's amazing what running for your life, dodging assassin bullets, and getting your revenge on the young man who stole your money and your life, will do for your soul. 

Not everything is what it appears to be and you have to read between the lines behind the actions David takes while these events are transpiring.  Will both of them find the happiness they are looking for?  You have to read the book to find out.

Now for my take on the story.  The entire book is written as a email from David to his ex girlfriend Dot.  It's his way of explaining what's been going on and asking her for another chance.  Since we never get to hear Dot's reaction, I could only guess that things don't end up going David's way on this, based on the way she reacted throughout the rest of the book.  As for the story itself, I found it to be a fun and engaging read but only while I was actually reading it.  When I had to put the book down, I was never in a big hurry to pick it up again, and I'll probably not read it again.  I felt the same way about the movie, Pay It Forward, which this book had elements of.  It was fun while it lasted, and like cotton candy, it won't be missed when it's gone.

This will qualify for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.


bermudaonion said...

Interesting way to write a book - was it one long email or a series of shorter ones? I don't think going from extremely wealthy to broke would work for me on the happiness front either.

bermudaonion said...

I'll try again. One long email seems like a strange way to tell a story. I don't think going from filthy rich to dirt poor would work for me as far as happiness goes.

Staci said...

I totally loved the way you compared reading this book to eating cotton candy!! Not sure if this one would work for me or not.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good summer read, although the e-mail idea has me a little thrown off.