A Pocketful of Happiness: A Memoir
Academy Award–nominated actor Richard E. Grant’s “genuine and compelling” (The New York Times), “moving and entertaining” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) memoir about finding happiness in even the darkest of days.
Richard E. Grant emigrated from Swaziland to London in 1982, with dreams of making it as an actor. Unexpectedly, he met and fell in love with a renowned dialect coach Joan Washington. Their relationship and marriage, navigating the highs and lows of Hollywood, parenthood, and loss, lasted almost forty years. When Joan died in 2021, her final challenge to him was to find a “pocketful of happiness in every day.”
This honest and frequently hilarious memoir is written in honor of that challenge—Richard has faithfully kept a diary since childhood, and in these entries, he shares raw details of everything he has experienced: both the pain of losing his beloved wife and the excitement of their life together, from the role that transformed his life overnight in Withnail and I to his thrilling Oscar Award nomination thirty years later for Can You Ever Forgive Me?.
In “one of the bravest, strongest, funniest memoirs I’ve ever read” (Bonnie Garmus, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry), A Pocketful of Happiness is a powerful, funny, and moving celebration of life’s unexpected joys.
Praise for A Pocketful of Happiness: A Memoir
“Richard E. Grant is a wonderful actor and, it seems, a rather wonderful (goofy, talented, loving) man. His new memoir, written in diary form, is about his terrific 38-year marriage-of-opposites to Joan Washington (he the eternal adolescent, star-struck optimist and gifted actor, she a sharp-tongued, no-nonsense and equally gifted dialect coach)… Genuine and compelling.”
—THE NEW YORK TIMES
“His decision to form the book’s narrative jointly out of the most enchanting highs (the Oscars, karaoke with Olivia Colman in a house formerly owned by Bette Davis) and the bleakest lows (Joan’s diagnosis, her fury when Grant inadvertently used the word terminal one day to describe her illness) came, he said, out of his desire to accurately capture what most people’s lives are like… [Richard and Joan’s] relationship is the fascinating central pillar of the book.”
“The term soulmate’ gets thrown around with abandon, often in the throes of young lust, long before love is tested by time, financial hardship, or even illness. But when Richard E. Grant calls his late wife Joan Washington his ‘soulmate’ in his new memoir A Pocketful of Happiness, it almost seems an understatement… The Oscar-nominated British actor writes tenderly, heart on his sleeve.”
“One of the bravest, strongest, funniest memoirs I’ve ever read.”
—BONNIE GARMUS, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry
"Actor Grant delivers an excellent memoir that’s part journal, part love letter to his late wife, Joan Washington. Grant’s tender recollections effectively conjure on the page the couple’s enduring connection. The result is a moving and entertaining celebration of life and love."
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
“Grant’s prose is charming and witty... An engaging story of life, love, and grief that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost.”
“A diary-keeper since childhood, the author draws on his candid entries to weave together an absorbing, moving chronicle… Ebullience and grief mark a touching memoir.”
“A gorgeously candid account of acting and show business. And an intimate and heartfelt story of love, loss and a life spent together. It is an honour to be invited in on these diaries. I cannot remember being so moved by a book.”
—DOLLY ALDERTON, international bestselling author of Everything I Know About Love
“An emotional rollercoaster - profoundly moving and wonderfully entertaining. A brilliant memoir about living, loving and losing.”
—BERNARDINE EVARISTO, winner of the Man Booker Prize and author of Girl, Woman, Other
“What a book! To put it one way, you could describe the lovely Richard E. Grant's A Pocketful of Happiness as love, death, and showbiz stories - and while accurate, that would be to miss out both its fierceness and tenderness.” —NIGELLA LAWSON, bestselling cookbook author and Television host
“A Pocketful of Happiness documents the head and heart exploding overwhelm of grief … brutal but necessary.”
—THE SUNDAY TIMES
“Grant’s profoundly moving book, part love letter to his beloved wife, part gossipy memoir about his life and times, will resonate with anyone who ever lost a loved one.”
“Richard E. Grant’s heartbreaking memoir recalls a long, happy marriage – and leaves us shattered for his loss.”
“A touching account.”
“An elegant exploration of the profundity of loss. While the memoir will appeal to Grant’s many fans, it may also comfort those struggling with an impending or recent loss.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL
“The title of Richard E. Grant’s memoir, A Pocketful of Happiness, is both misleading and utterly truthful. On the one hand, the book is full of charming anecdotes which are indicative of the Swaziland-born, British actor’s sunny disposition, but, on the other, it charts the grim journey of losing his wife… An endearing read.”
—THE DAILY TELEGRAPH