Elinor Mackey's perfect marriage begins its slow disintegration when she picks up the phone and overhears her husband planning a non exercise-related rendezvous with his personal trainer, Gina. I want to cook for you, Gina says suggestively, and Elinor knows things have spun out of control.

Actually, in her more honest moments, Elinor will admit that the marriage has been in trouble for some time. Endless rounds of failed fertility treatment have left her and Ted numb, retreating to their separate corners. Elinor spends hours in the laundry room, while Ted ostensibly passes his time getting in shape at the gym.

Elinor follows her husband to Gina's townhouse and watches helplessly as they abandon cooking for more unusual kitchen activities. He doesn't love you, Gina! Elinor thinks, but it turns out that it's not that simple: Ted finds himself in love with two very different women. To complicate matters even more, Gina's troubled young son has come to live with her. In desperate need of a father figure, he clings to Ted as his new role model.

Things are a mess, to be sure. All involved are paralyzed, waiting for one of the others to make the decisions that will untangle this modern-day love triangle. Elinor, who's long been at the mercy of science and fate in her efforts to have a baby, is unsure whether she has it in her to take charge of her life again.

Author Lolly Winston has an uncommonly deft touch while dealing with some of life's heaviest topics. In her debut bestseller, Good Grief, Winston won acclaim for her moving portrayal of a young woman finding a new life after her husband's death. Happiness Sold Separately is one of those wonderfully relatable gems that friends will pass around with a You have to read this recommendation. Sometimes bawdy, sometimes moving, always hilarious, this is a charming, generous book. Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.

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