Some books enter the world quietly, others with a gaggle of raving devotees in tow. Irish author, Naoise Dolan's debut Exciting Times sits in the latter camp despite being published early on in the pandemic. Nearly three years later and the novel has made it onto the Sunday Times bestseller list, while Amazon Studios is currently turning it into a series with Bridgerton's Phoebe Dynevor in the lead role. So you can imagine our sheer excitement when we found out book number two would be arriving very soon. Back in November 2022, Naoise Dolan announced her second novel The Happy Couple and we've just been treated to the first glimpse of its cover. All the details on The Happy Couple, below.
What is the book about?
In Exciting Times, Dolan gave us Ava, an aimless 22-year-old who uproots from Ireland to teach English in Hong Kong. Given the way her main character straddles the line of self-loathing and self-awareness, as an author Dolan's books fall, be it by design or not, into the same category as Ottessa Moshfegh and Sally Rooney. We expect The Happy Couple will offer up the same keen observations and gendered dynamics that floored us in Dolan's debut.
In fact, given the blurb of the novel, it's almost guaranteed. The Happy Couple is on route to examine the ubiquitous marriage plot through five characters all linked by a wedding set to take place in one year's time. You have the happy couple: Luke and Celine. Then there's the best man, Archie, who is in love with Luke and without the desire to change that. Celine's chain-smoking sister Phoebe is the bridesmaid, and has no wedding aspirations of her own. The way she sees it, her role is to get to the bottom of Luke's frequent disappearances. Meanwhile, wedding guest Vivian watches on with enough emotional distance to see with clear eyes. If the plot reminds you of Four Weddings and a Funeral, me too.
Naoise Dolan is autistic, and in the past she's described how her own experience of masking and mirroring has heightened her awareness of social dynamics, actions, subtext, all things essential to great writing and strengths in her own.
In case you're wondering, The Happy Couple is scheduled to land on Australian bookshelves on May 30, 2023. You can pre-order a copy through Hachette. Between The Happy Couple and Dolly Alderton's upcoming novel, 2023 is looking up!