In this tender, funny, and sharp companion to her acclaimed memoir-in-essays Amateur Hour, Kimberly Harrington explores and confronts marriage, divorce, and the ways love, loss, and longing shape a life.
Six weeks after Kimberly and her husband announced their divorce, she began work on a book that she thought would only be about divorce — heavy on the dark humor with a light coating of anger and annoyance. After all, on the heels of planning to dissolve a twenty-year marriage they had chosen to still live together in the same house with their kids. Throw in a global pandemic and her idea of what the end of a marriage should look and feel like was flipped even further on its head.
This originally dark and caustic exploration turned into a more empathetic exercise, as she worked to understand what this relationship meant and why marriage matters so much. Over the course of two years of what was supposed to be a temporary period of transition, she sifted through her past—how she formed her ideas about relationships, sex, marriage, and divorce. And she dug back into the history of her marriage — how she and her future ex-husband had met, what it felt like to be madly in love, how they had changed over time, the impact having children had on their relationship, and what they still owed one another.
But You Seemed So Happy is a time capsule of sorts. It’s about getting older and repeatedly dying on the hill of being wiser, only to discover you were never all that dumb to begin with. It’s an honest, intimate biography of a marriage, from its heady, idealistic, and easy beginnings to it slowly coming apart and finally to its evolution into something completely unexpected. As she probes what it means when everyone assumes you’re happy as long as you’re still married, Harrington skewers engagement photos, Gen X singularity, small-town busybodies, and the casual way we make life-altering decisions when we’re young. Ultimately, this moving and funny memoir in essays is a vulnerable and irreverent act of forgiveness—of ourselves, our partners, and the relationships that have run their course but will always hold profound and permanent meaning in our lives.
About the Author
Kimberly Harrington is the author of Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words and But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, In Pieces and Bits. Her work is included in the collections Merciless & Unpredictable: A McSweeney's Guide to Parenting and Keep Scrolling Till You Feel Something: Twenty-One Years of Humor From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She’s a columnist and regular contributor to McSweeney’s and her work has also appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and The Cut. A long-time copywriter and creative director for design studios and brands, her clients have included Apple, Nike, and Netflix.
“Kimberly Harrington is back with another honest, tender, and often hilarious book on the end of a modern marriage. No matter your relationship status, But You Seemed So Happy begs the question– what are we all doing here?I laughed, I cried, I found myself in the pages over and over again.” — Kate Baer, New York Times bestselling author of What Kind of Woman: Poems
“Intimate and raw yet meticulously scrubbed of the slightest tinge of self-pity. Harrington explores the pain and intricacies of a marriage and its dissolution with a ruthless, unflinching honesty and gallows humor that makes you feel like you buried a body with her. Did you? Maybe you did.” — Emily Flake, cartoonist for The New Yorker
“In her compassionate treatment of a touchy subject, Harrington flips the divorce narrative on its head to underscore the beauty of choosing one’s own path.” — Publishers Weekly
"Brimming with witty observations, biting humor, and thoughtful commentary on courtship, marriage, parenting, happiness, inertia, and yes, divorce." — Booklist
“With her trademark humor, Kimberly Harrington tackles the nitty-gritty aspects of motherhood in Amateur Hour. More concerned with brutal honesty than keeping up appearances, she bears all in frank prose covering everything from the senior pictures to her deep-seated desire for more family fights—and isn’t afraid to dish it out, either. Required reading for Mother’s Day (and every subsequent day after) is her piece demanding that mothers be given more than one day each year to be celebrated.” — Ms. Magazineon AMATEUR HOUR
“Amateur Hour is a feisty, arresting collection of essays that bring intimate laughter and tears often in the same breath. In a world of endless mommy tell-alls that feel like the literary equivalent of house chardonnay, this is top-shelf whiskey.” — Electric Literature on AMATEUR HOUR
“Kimberly Harrington deftly and hilariously uncovers all of the lies and bullshit women are told about motherhood. This book made me laugh, sure, but it also made me feel seen.” — Jennifer Romolini, chief content officer at Shondaland.com and author of Weird in a World That's Not on AMATEUR HOUR
“Amateur Hour finds Kimberly Harrington as funny, cutting, honest, and brilliant as ever.” — Christopher Monks, Editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and author of The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life on AMATEUR HOUR
“Kimberly Harrington is one tough mother. Filled with the blunt, witty observations... Amateur Hour is a candid look at both the joys and horrors of family life, including pregnancy loss, marital strife and the guilt and exhaustion of “work-life balance.” — Salon on AMATEUR HOUR
“Funny, angry, and moving...readers—particularly those who have been in the motherhood trenches—will smile, laugh, and maybe even shed a tear.“ — Publishers Weekly on AMATEUR HOUR
“Her quirky, dissenting energy should resonate with parents who find little use for the usual mommy-blogger fare.” — Kirkus Reviews on AMATEUR HOUR