From Riches to Happiness:
A Semi-Autobiography by an Enlightened Orange County Woman

by Judy Joseph Hamlin

Sun River Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-0-615-31036-7.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 04/19/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir

People always seem to think that having loads of money, a fancy house, and designer clothes and vacations will make them happy. With money, all their problems will fade away. Judy Joseph Hamlin lived this life and tells about it in her new book, From Riches to Happiness: A Semi-Autobiography by an Enlightened Orange County Woman.

Hamlin was married to a powerful man who gave her everything she and their children could desire financially...but nothing emotionally. Their marriage was a sham, with her husband working long hours and spending any free time he had pursing his own interests. "He was just some guy who lived in the same house. We barely even spoke to each other, much less saw each other. I spent all my time with the boys and he spent all his time at work. And he paid the bills. And that was the end of our story."

The choice to divorce her husband was risky and frightening. Hamlin hadn't worked outside the home for years, didn't have a college education, and had no financial reserves of her own. How could she provide for her family? She first looked for another man to care for her, but when he turned out to be a violent psychopath, she learned something important. The only person who was truly concerned about her and her best interests was herself. "I found my way—and I did it on my own terms," Hamlin writes, "I found that I could make it without the rich husband, the huge house and the fancy car, that even without those things I could be successful and live a simple, happy life. And that, I think, is a lesson that more women need to learn."

The divorce quickly turned nasty, with Hamlin's husband threatening to destroy her and taking her to court for countless petty things. He attempted to break her spirit, and take away any remnant of the life together she had left. Hamlin, however, persevered. She went back to school and created a new, healthy life for herself and her boys. She's an inspiration for any woman thinking about forging her own way in the world or escaping a toxic relationship. It's a scary world out there, but perhaps the scarier option is hiding behind your own fears and inhibitions and letting your life slip by in unhappiness. Hamlin did it, and you can too.

Judy Joseph Hamlin has a master's degree and is credentialed in special education. She is a teacher in Newport Beach, California, and this is her first book.

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