Is Happiness for Beginners based on a true story?

By Louie Fecou
Published: July 28, 2023 (Last updated: July 31, 2023)
Is Happiness for Beginners based on a true story - Netflix

Is Happiness for Beginners based on a true story? We discuss the popular 2023 Netflix film and assess whether it’s based on real events.

Looking for some light rom-com entertainment to watch?

Well, you could probably do worse than Happiness for Beginners on Netflix.

The movie was written and directed by Vicky Wight and stars Ellie Kemper as Helen, recently divorced and looking for solace in a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

Whether you are a fan of the genre or not, it is hard not to acknowledge that there is an audience out there that loves a lighter approach to filmmaking, embracing comedy and romance, and productions such as this will always find viewers.

You can find a full review of the film here on Ready Steady Cut, but before you see what we thought of it, hang around, and we will answer the question: is Happiness for Beginners based on a true story?

What is Happiness for Beginners about?

Our protagonist, Helen, is still nursing the effect of her recent divorce and decides to take on a new challenge to help reset her life. She embarks on a hiking adventure on The Appalachian Trail, where she meets another hiker named Jake. This leads to a relationship with Jake, played by Luke Grimes that you might recognize from the Paramount+ hit series Yellowstone.

However, Jake turns out to be the best friend of Helen’s younger brother, and complications ensue.

Is Happiness for Beginners based on a true story?

No, the story and the characters are fictitious, although some inspiration for the story came from the author’s real-life experiences.

What book is Happiness for Beginners based on?

The film is based on a 2015 novel of the same name by Katherine Center. The novel follows the same premise, and confusion about the nature of the film may arise because the novel was inspired by an actual event that happened in the author’s life.

Katherine is on record recounting the time she would take part in a wilderness survival course.

While taking part in the event, she would keep a detailed journal of her activities, and it would be the notes she made on this venture led to her writing the book on which the film is based.

Katherine would revisit her journal twenty years after taking part in her own personal adventure, which inspired her to write Helen’s story. Surprisingly, the main protagonist is not, in fact, based on herself. While on the real-life survival experience, Katherine would recount how she met another woman on the same trip as herself.

This woman was a decade older than the rest of the group, and looking back, the writer would remember how this lady was on the trip after a divorce and found herself outside as far as the trip went.

This group member would serve as the inspiration for Helen in the novel and, ultimately, the film, so although not a true story, elements are involved that lend an air of authenticity to the proceedings.

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