Book Reviews

With A Little Help From My Friends: The Happiness Project by Pippa James @PippaJamesbooks @bookouture

Don’t you think those long and cold days are dull? Well, I have the perfect cure! Welcome to The Happiness Project!

I would like to thank Kim at Bookouture for inviting me to join this blog tour!

the happiness project.jpgTitle: The Happiness Project
Author: Pippa James
Publisher: Bookouture
Date of hardback publication: 12 February 2019
Format: NetGalley uncorrected copy
Number of pages: 343

Alison’s perfect world has fallen apart. Her beloved larger than life mother-in-law, Maggie, has just passed away. Every afternoon they’d talk and laugh over a pot of tea – and Maggie was secretly the glue that held Alison’s family together. Now she’s trying to figure out a future without her…

With a little help from her two best friends, Alison resolves to try and find her happy place and be more Maggie. Vowing to step outside of their comfort zones and make the most of every day, the three women each have their own challenges to overcome in the year ahead – a baby on the way, a romance to save and a much-needed confidence boost.

But as Alison finds herself drinking more wine than she ever has in her life and signing up for an extreme sports charity event, she starts to wonder if this is really the change she needed in her life? Or will she re-discover her happiness closer to home?


Frankie, Katie, and Alison. Three women, three mothers, different lives and personalities. What a breeze of fresh and funny air do those ladies bring! Kicking stereotypes in the bottom as well as liberating us from the impression we women can have of each other, The Happiness Project is a beautiful tale of friendships through good and bad days. I just loved getting to know these women – three different point of views to help the reader figure out the truth from the appearances, the reality behind perfection, and face our own fears and insecurities.

Alison is ‘the perfect mother’. Home-cooked cakes for school events or dinners, pristine house, never a hair out of place. But it is exhausting maintaining such a high-maintenance lifestyle. Especially when you lose the maternal figure you looked up to, the constant in your life that brought joy, comfort, and love. Finally, a novel in which the mother-in-law is not a loathed cunning monster for whom her son can do no wrong! I felt Maggie’s absence through Alison and her husband’s grieving process, beautifully written, emotions perfectly conveyed. I couldn’t help but side with Alison and get quite upset with her husband’s reactions. No, Alison is not what you’d call spontaneous, yes, she plans things and double checks things, but that’s not a bad thing. Okay, that may be because I connected the most with her, so I just HAD to take her defense. But I stand by what I say, although I do understand her hubby trying to help her to let go of the perfectionism that regulates her life in order to enjoy life a little more.

Frankie…Alison’s opposite! Single mother trying to make ends meet with small jobs, juggling a boyfriend and an ex – and father of her boy who wants in in his life. Frankie is quite busy! She might appear strong and confident but it is only a façade. My heart ached for her whenever she did her best but felt she wasn’t enough, comparing herself to Alison, unfairly unleashing her insecurities on her. Unfair but so true. I can’t say I would never react his way. It felt so natural, and the author created the perfect little snippets of life to show just how quick we are to snap, to retreat into the ‘anger zone’, to stubbornly stay on one’s position when we know we are wrong. I loved Frankie for her boundless love and her complicated, ‘I’m worrying but there’s no way on earth I’m letting you know’ way. She has a giant heart and witty remarks that made the reading really cute, hilarious, and kept things on the extreme side of things. Frankie is all about ‘go big or go home’!

Katie. Mother of two and a half (what? It’s in her uterus, it only gets half points!!!) wondering if her marriage is okay and how to deal with this new pregnancy. There is such stigma around what pregnancy should be like, how women must react to it, but there are also different schools and it can be hard to find the way that suits you through the process. When an old friend comes back into her life with a completely different lifestyle and view on what being an expecting mother is, Katie must come to terms with what she really wants to be, feel, and give to her next kid. I really enjoyed hearing about her first baby, followed too soon by the second, not giving her the chance to fully get into “pregnancy” mode, and that step back with this third baby, the reflection, the determination to do things the right way. But most of all, the idea that even if it’s the third time your body hosts a guest, you don’t have all the answers, even if some things come more easily, more naturally.

So, where does the happiness project fit into those lives? Well, all three women want change, and the New Year is the perfect time for some resolutions. Each picks a goal, wills herself to stick to it, and drink to a better life. That’s on paper! The reality is trickier, fuller, more colourful, and so much better! With heart and fun, those three friends tackle the months to follow with an intention in mind, not always in action, but forever holding the others’ hand (even with less enthusiasm at times!).

What begins as a simple list of goals ends up inspiring Alison, Katie, and Frankie, and me! I was moved by the obstacles they faced, the joys they felt, and those little moments of thoughts and doubts. What a treat!

The Happiness Project is heart-warming. It’s the kind of books that smells like the right subtle incense in the house to make it a home, like the skillfully prepared mug of tea in your hand, like life itself. Tantrums, muds, long hours, walks, laughs – months of their lives pass by and I devoured them in one sitting, escaping the bitter cold of Bordeaux to share hours with women who remind you that you have it in you to be happy. Uplifting, filled with emotions and laughing-out-loud moments, The Happiness Project brings a smile to your face and happiness to your mind!


Get yourself some happiness: Amazon

happiness project.jpg

(how cute is this blog tour poster??? Just as cute as the book cover!)


pippa james

Growing up in Birmingham, Pippa James was never without at least one book on the go and therefore lived several different lives concurrently. As an adult, she would like to spend much of her time the same way, but she now lives a chaotic life in a small Derbyshire town with her husband and two children. Her writing is frequently interrupted by parenting duties and her day job as a teacher and the only way she can find a quiet space to think, is by taking her laptop to the pub to drink tea and write, which she does at every opportunity.

You can follow Pippa on Twitter @PippaJamesBooks or


20 thoughts on “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Happiness Project by Pippa James @PippaJamesbooks @bookouture”

  1. I can imagine exactly the sort of read this is and I really enjoy stories like this so much. Books similar to Lucy Dillon and Carole Matthews’ novels sound amazing to lose myself in. Maybe because we all crave friendships, change and evolution like that? Really wonderful review Meggy!


  2. You make me feel like I need to read this Asap.I love the themes esp the female friendships one.This certainly sounds like a fab read.Beautiful recuee,Meggy.


  3. I actually thought it was a different book with the same title first. xD This sounds like such a cute and adorable read! Not my usual genre, but I like to escape the box every once in a while. 😉 Wonderful review! xx


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