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Happy Birthday: A Novel Hardcover – July 19, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 415 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 590 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include 44 Charles Street, Legacy, Family Ties, Big Girl, Southern Lights, Matters of the Heart, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

November first was a day Valerie Wyatt dreaded every year, or at least for the last two decades, since she turned forty. She had successfully staved off the potential ravages of time, and no one who saw her would have guessed that she had turned sixty when she woke up that morning. She had been discreetly shedding years for a while and it was easy to believe her creativity about her age. People magazine had recently said she was fifty-one years old, which was bad enough. Sixty was beyond thinking and she was grateful that everyone seemed to have forgotten the right number. Valerie did everything she could to confuse them. She had had her eyes done for the first time when she turned forty and then again fifteen years later. The results were excellent. She looked rested and fresh, as though she had been on a terrific vacation. She had had the surgery done in L.A. during a summer hiatus. She had also had her neck done when she was fifty, giving her a smooth, youthful neckline with no sag anywhere, and her plastic surgeon agreed that she didn't need a full face-lift. She had great bones, good skin, and the eye and neck work had given her the effect she wanted. Botox shots four times a year added to her youthful looks. Daily exercise and a trainer three times a week kept her long, lean body toned and unmarked by age. If she had wanted to, she could have claimed to be in her forties, but she didn't want to seem ridiculous, and was content to knock nine years off her age. People also knew that she had a thirty-year-old daughter, so she couldn't stretch the truth too far. Fifty-one worked.

It took time, effort, maintenance, and money to maintain her appearance. It served her vanity, but it was also important for her career. Valerie had been the number-one guru of style and gracious living during a thirty-five-year career. She had started as a writer for a decorating magazine when she got out of college, and she had turned it into an intense dedication. She was the high priestess of how to entertain and for everything that went on in the home. She had licensing arrangements for fine linens, furniture, wallpaper, fabrics, exquisite chocolates, and a line of mustards. She had written six books on weddings, decorating, and entertaining and had a show that had among the highest ratings on TV. She had planned three White House weddings when presidential daughters and nieces got married, and her book on weddings had been number one on the New York Times nonfiction list for fifty-seven weeks. Her arch-competitor was Martha Stewart, but Valerie was in a class unto herself, although she'd always had deep respect for her rival. They were the two most important women in their field.

Valerie lived exactly the way she preached. Her Fifth Avenue penthouse, with a sweeping view of Central Park, and an important collection of contemporary art, looked camera ready at all times and so did she. She was obsessed with beauty. People wanted to live the way she told them to, women wanted to look the way she did, and young girls wanted a wedding just the way Valerie would have done it, or as she instructed them to do on her show and in her books. Valerie Wyatt was a household name. She was a beautiful woman, had a fabulous career, and lived a golden life. The only thing missing in her life was a man, and she hadn't been involved with anyone in three years. The thought of that depressed her that morning too. No matter how good she looked, the age on her driver's license was what it was, and who would want a woman of sixty? Even men in their eighties wanted girls in their twenties now. With this birthday, Valerie felt she had become obsolete. It wasn't a pleasant thought, and she wasn't happy today.

She looked in the mirror intently as she prepared to leave her apartment that morning. She didn't have to be in the studio until noon for a taping, and she had two appointments before that. She was hoping the first one would cheer her up. And the only thing keeping her from a major panic attack was that at least no one knew her right age. But she was depressed anyway. She was relieved that the image she saw in the mirror reassured her that her life wasn't over yet. She wore her blond hair in a chic well-cut bob that framed her face, and had it colored regularly. She never had roots. It was the same color it always had been, and her figure was superb. She carefully selected a red wool coat from the closet to put over the short black dress she was wearing that showed off her spectacular long legs, and she was wearing sexy high heels from Manolo Blahnik. It was a great look and would be elegant and fashionable when she taped her show later that day.

The doorman hailed a cab for her when she left the apartment and she gave the driver an address on the Upper West Side. It was in a seedy neighborhood, and she noticed the driver looking at her admiringly in the rearview mirror. She was pensive as they sped through Central Park. The weather in New York had turned chilly two weeks before, the leaves had turned, and the last of them were falling off the trees. The red wool coat she was wearing looked and felt just right. Valerie was looking out the window of the cab as the radio droned on, and they exited from the park on the West Side. And then she felt an electric current run through her as she heard the announcer's voice.

"My, my, my, I never would have believed it, and I'll bet you won't either. She looks terrific for her age! Guess who's turning sixty today? Valerie Wyatt! Now that is a surprise! Good work, Valerie, you don't look a day over forty-five." She felt as though the announcer had just punched her in the stomach. Hard! She couldn't believe it. How the hell did he know? Their researchers must check DMV records, she thought with a sinking feeling. It was the most popular morning radio talk show in New York, and everyone would know. She wanted to tell the driver to turn it off, but what difference would that make? She had already heard it, and so had half of New York. The whole world knew now that she was sixty years old. Or at least the better part of New York. It was humiliating beyond words, she fumed to herself. Was nothing private anymore? Not when you were as famous as Valerie Wyatt and had your own TV show, and had for years. She wanted to cry as she sat in the backseat wondering how many other radio shows it would be on, how many TV shows, what newspapers it would be in, or celebrity roundups announcing whose birthday it was and how old they were. Why didn't they just sky-write it over New York?

She was frowning as she paid the cab driver and gave him a handsome tip. The day was off to a miserable start for her, and she never liked her birthday anyway. It was always a disappointing day, and despite her fame and success, she had no man to spend it with. She had no date or boyfriend, no husband, and her daughter was always too busy working to go out for dinner. And the last thing she wanted to do was make an issue of her age with friends. She was planning to spend the night at home alone, in bed.

She hurried up the dilapidated steps of the familiar brownstone, nearly tripping on a chipped step, and pushed the button on the intercom. The name on the bell was Alan Starr. Valerie came here at least twice a year and called between visits to boost her spirits or when she was bored. After she rang, a voice filtered into the chilly November air.

"Darling?" It was a happy voice, and he sounded excited to see her.

"It's me," she confirmed, and he buzzed her in. She pushed open the heavy door once it unlocked, and hurried up the stairs to the second floor. The building was old and looked tired, but was clean. He was waiting in an open doorway and threw his arms around her, grinning broadly. He was a tall, handsome man in his early forties with electric blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair. And despite the shabby address, he was somewhat well known around town.

"Happy birthday!" he said, hugging her close to him as he smiled with a look of genuine pleasure to see her. She pulled away, scowling at him unhappily.

"Oh shut up. Some asshole on the radio just told the whole goddamn world how old I am today." She looked on the verge of tears as she marched into the familiar living room, where several large Buddhas and a white marble statue of Quan Yin sat on either side of two white couches with a black lacquer coffee table between them. There was a distinct smell of incense in the room.

"What do you care? You don't look your age! It's just a number, darling," he reassured her as she tossed her coat onto the couch.

"I care. And I am my age, that's the worst part. I feel a hundred years old today."

"Don't be silly," Alan said as he sat down on the couch opposite her. There were two decks of cards on the table. Alan was said to be one of the best psychics in New York. She felt silly coming to him, but she trusted some of his predictions, and most of the time he cheered her up. He was a loving, warm person with a good sense of humor, and a number of famous clients. Valerie had come to him for years and a lot of what he predicted actually came true. She started her birthday with an appointment with him every year. It took some of the sting out of the day, and if the reading was good, it gave her something to look forward to. "You're going to have a fabulous year," he said reassuringly as he shuffled the deck of cards. "All the planets are lined up for you. I did an astrological reading for you yesterday, and this is going to be your absolutely best year." He pointed to the cards. She knew the drill. They had done this many times. "Pick five and place them face down," he said, as he put the deck down in front of her, and she sighed. She picked the five cards, left them face down, and Alan turned them over one by one. There were two aces, a ten of clubs, a two of hearts, and the jack of spades.

"You're going to make a lot of money this year," he said with a serious expression. "Some new licensing agreements. And your ratings are going to be fantastic on the show." He said pr...
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385340303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385340304
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (415 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Annie B VINE VOICE on July 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's been awhile since I've read a Danielle Steel book. This book sounded interesting to me because I guess I have birthdays on my mind these days. Amazing how they come around so quickly.

And the truth is Happy Birthday wasn't a horrible book (I have read worse), but it was nowhere near as good as her earlier books. Still, the book has all the elements that Steel lovers enjoy, and for summer reading, you could do a lot worse. The book moves swiftly and Steel dishes out love and pain, as usual, with a happy ending. The book wasn't as well fleshed out as other books by Steel. The characters didn't have a lot of depth and the plot could've been a lot stronger. Steel formula varies little, so there are no huge surprises or differences. If you love Steel, you'll love this book. If you've overdosed on Steel, give it a skip. If you've never read Steel before, read one of her earlier, preferably earliest, books before starting with this one. (You'll be a lot happier with any one of the first five to ten.)

I give it three stars because it wasn't terrible and was pretty much what I expected it to be.

Overall, okay read. I recommend the book to Steel fans and diehard Steel lovers. Other romance fans may prefer to pick a different book and wait for this one to come out in paperback or get it from the library.
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Format: Hardcover
Valerie Wyatt is the leader of home decoration. She has a popular television show and several bestselling books. Everyone in the media wants her as a guest or interviewee.

Her daughter April works as diligently as her mom. April is a master chef and owner of a popular trendy Manhattan restaurant. She is pregnant carrying Mike Steinman's child, but is unsure whether to tell her lover or not. Besides the successful pair working extremely hard, they share in common the encroachment of an undesirable milestone birthday.

Jack Adams is a former NFL quarterback but retired a dozen years ago to become a diligent successful TV sports analyst. Women still want him, but as he turns fifty he feels his age after a night like none before leaves him in pain as if blindsided by a middle linebacker. He and Valerie meet and are attracted to one another.

Happy Birthday is an entertaining contemporary romance that fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy due to the two couples who garner reader empathy especially aging boomers. Although the story line is thin, readers will relish the birthday presents as two pairs of relationships are forged, but surviving intact for the next milestone birthday remains to be seen as each person's idiosyncrasies places some doubts on this occurring.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
When Valerie Wyatt's 60th birthday rolls around, there's no reason to celebrate as far as she can see. In spite of the fact that she looks closer to 40 than 60, is the much-loved television queen of home entertaining, and has an empire that includes glossy books, furniture, fabrics and gourmet food, she finds it hard to enjoy her success on this dreadful day. Especially once an intrepid reporter unearths her true age and announces it on a particularly popular radio show for everyone to hear.

"Danielle Steel takes three birthdays that fall on the same day, all of them uninspiring to the birthday girl or boy, and turns them into the start of something life-altering."
April Wyatt, Valerie's daughter who happens to share her birthday, feels much as her mother does as she passes a mile marker that makes her take stock of her life. While 30 isn't exactly ancient, marriage and children have eluded April up to this point. Like her mother, professional success resulting from hard work and dedication are her entire world. Her restaurant that features exquisitely tasty home-cooked cuisine consumes every aspect of her days at the cost of a personal life.

Jack Adams, former NFL superstar and four-time Super Bowl winner, is also celebrating a birthday --- his 50th. What should be a cause for celebration turns into a case of recrimination for this Hall of Famer after he suffers an excruciatingly painful herniated disk in the midst of a night of wild abandon with a much younger woman. Feeling like a has-been, Jack isn't exactly ready for cake and confetti himself.

In spite of themselves, however, these three birthday mates will soon realize that their best days are definitely not behind them.
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Danielle Steel is still, in my opinion, the best author. I have read and reread all of her books because they are so well written. She really writes all of her characters, good or bad, so well that you feel you really know them. She not only writes fantastic books, she releases at least 2 a year! The woman is a writing icon.
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Danielle Steele used to be one of my favorite authors but they are becoming all the same. Just different names with very predictable endings. Everything is about wealth and beautiful people.
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By Cyncha on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Life is too short to read bad books, and this is truly an awful book. Its story line is weak and it's filled with redundancy. I gave the author the benefit of the doubt through the first 30 or 40 pages, but then it felt as though she thought her readers were too soft-headed to remember what she had said time and time and time again. We get it!! I believe Danielle Steel is cranking out books too fast and riding on her successes from her early years. Don't waste your time on this one.
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