The Big Happiness

The Big Happiness by [Gridley, Sam]

THE BOOK: The Big Happiness.


THE AUTHOR: Sam Gridley

THE EDITOR: Douglas Gordon

THE PUBLISHER: P. M. Gordon Associates

SUMMARY: In one of the strangest love stories of history or fiction, Allison Roarty (a.k.a. Allison Wonderland), a 45-year-old, divorced, wacky, sexually adventurous, somewhat overweight alcoholic with brain damage, takes up with Leigh Berry, a gangling, half-blind, reclusive, 62-year-old devotee of ancient music. Their friend Connie Bowers, a successful career woman, tries to guide them through their delusions and misadventures. In the process, all three characters discover emotional and spiritual depths that most people seldom experience.

THE BACK STORY: My wife and a friend of hers participated in a Thanksgiving program to take food to people who are homebound. I began wondering what sort of person the visitors might meet, and that meshed with my longstanding notion that nobody is normal.

WHY THIS TITLE? “The Big Happiness” is a significant phrase that occurs often in the book. Though I considered a title like “The Adventures of Allison Wonderland” or “Allison Wonderland and Her Merry Band of Misfits,” I decided against focusing the title on Allison. There are two other main characters with separate points of view.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a comedy, a tragedy, a love story. It contains both plain speech and adventurous writing (Leigh Berry has what amounts to his own private language). It includes an imaginary ape and the spirit of a Baroque composer. It may inspire readers to do something insane, such as eating a radish without salt.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “This is a very unusual tale about a woman with brain damage who meets and becomes involved with a man who also has relational problems. It’s a very unlikely love story that develops between two damaged people who find a connection with one another. Very sad and very uplifting at the same time.” —Nancy Lombardi on Amazon

AUTHOR PROFILE: Sam Gridley has published two novels and more than sixty short pieces, mostly fiction. He has received two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. After being born in Pittsburgh, he lived in Camden, Providence, Bristol, Westchester, Palos Verdes Estates, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Northridge, Culver City, Berkeley, Oakland, Cambridge, Brighton, London, Palo Alto, Bellefonte, Baltimore, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, and perhaps other communities he has forgotten. This was before the age of 29. Since then he has settled in Philadelphia and scarcely budged, except to visit his website,

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Having been designed by God as a nearsighted, clumsy idiot, I’ve long pondered the problem of human limitations. In essence, we all have disabilities—many things we can’t do or can’t figure out—so I decided to investigate how a couple of characters with recognized challenges cope with their real and imagined world. The use of three separate points of view is a form of triangulation: the truth, if there is any, lies at the point where the three lines intersect.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). The “Look Inside” feature on Amazon ( leads to a substantial sample of the book.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Available only from Amazon on the Kindle platform:

PRICE: $2.99 (super cheap)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Comments welcome!

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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