Manhattan, Thanksgiving eve, 1945. The war is over, and Eric Smythe’s party was in full swing. All his clever Greenwich Village friends were there. So too was his sister Sara, an independent, outspoken young woman, starting to make her way in the big city. And then in walked Jack Malone, a U.S. Army journalist just back from a defeated Germany, a man whose world view was vastly different than that of Eric and his friends. This chance meeting between Sara and Jack and the choices they both made in the wake of it would eventually have profound consequences, both for themselves and for those closest to them for decades afterwards. Set amidst the dynamic optimism of postwar New York and the subsequent nightmare of the McCarthy era, The Pursuit of Happiness is a great, tragic love story; a tale of divided loyalties, decisive moral choices and the random workings of destiny.
In Kennedy's 10th novel, fledgling writer Sara Smythe has defied her parents' wishes, left Hartford, and begun a literary life in post-WWII New York. She lands a sought-after job at Life magazine and frequents parties in Greenwich Village hosted by her playwright brother, Eric. There, surrounded by Communists and artists, she meets Jack Malone, a Stars and Stripes journalist. The night they spend together upends Sara's plans and sends her, Jack, and Ericon a collision course with the repressive forces of the McCarthy era. The legacy of that night extends into the next generation, where Jack's daughter, Kate, is struggling to find her own identity in modern-day Manhattan, unaware of the forces that shaped her. Kennedy tells his epic tale with a keen eye and brisk pace, confidently sweeping through historic events and the lives of his somewhat thin characters, investing most of his energy on the winningly sincere love story.