Happy Birthday

( 418 )


In this beguiling new novel, Danielle Steel tells the story of three very different people, each of whom, on the same day, reaches a crucial turning point in life?a rite both bittersweet and full of hope, a time to blow out the candles, say goodbye to the past, and make a wish for the future.
Valerie Wyatt is the queen of gracious living and the arbiter of taste. Since her long-ago divorce, she?s worked hard to reach the pinnacle of her ...

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Happy Birthday: A Novel

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In this beguiling new novel, Danielle Steel tells the story of three very different people, each of whom, on the same day, reaches a crucial turning point in life—a rite both bittersweet and full of hope, a time to blow out the candles, say goodbye to the past, and make a wish for the future.
Valerie Wyatt is the queen of gracious living and the arbiter of taste. Since her long-ago divorce, she’s worked hard to reach the pinnacle of her profession and to create a camera-ready life in her Fifth Avenue penthouse. So why is she so depressed? All the hours with her personal trainer, the careful work of New York’s best hairdressers, cosmetic surgeons, and her own God-given bone structure and great looks can’t fudge the truth or her lies about it: Valerie is turning sixty.

Valerie’s daughter, April, has no love life, no rest, and no prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future. Her popular one-of-a-kind restaurant in downtown New York, where she is chef and owner, consumes every ounce of her attention and energy. Ready or not, though, April’s life is about to change, in a tumultuous transformation that begins the morning it hits her: She’s thirty. And what does she have to show for it? A restaurant, no man, no kids.

Jack Adams once threw a football like a guided missile. Twelve years after retiring from the NFL, he is the most charismatic sports analyst on TV, a man who has his pick of the most desirable twentysomething women. But after a particularly memorable Halloween party, Jack wakes up on his fiftieth birthday, his back thrown out of whack, feeling every year his age.

A terrifying act of violence, an out-of-the-blue blessing, and two extremely unlikely love affairs soon turn lives inside out and upside down. In a novel brimming with warmth and insight, beginning on one birthday and ending on another, Valerie, April, and Jack discover that life itself can be a celebration—and that its greatest gifts are always a surprise.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Valerie Wyatt rules the world or at least her large segment of the realm. In her sixty years, she has established herself as the queen of home decoration and entertainment with a popular television show, other media appearances, and top-selling books. Not far behind her is her thirty-year-old daughter April, the hardworking proprietor and master chef of a chic downtown Manhattan restaurant. Only one thing seems to be missing from their lives: Real romance. Danielle Steel's Happy Birthday confirms her uncanny ability to win our sympathies for characters who, on one level at least, we know don't exist. Another beach blanket triumph.

Library Journal
Valerie Wyatt is the reigning queen of elegant entertaining (think Martha Stewart). Her daughter, April, is the work-addicted chef/owner of a downtown New York restaurant (think any number of hot young chefs, today's new superstars, and check out Laura Shockey's Four Kitchens for the real inside story). High achievers, but men in their lives? Nuh-uh. Still, both have significant birthdays coming, and things might change. Classic Steel. Grab it, I guess.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440243342
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 156,653
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel
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.
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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

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 pretty much the same thing every year, and so far he'd been right. But in her case, that was easy to predict. Valerie's gracious living empire was sound.

"What's with the jack of spades?" They both knew she'd wanted a man in her life since her last relationship ended. She had been divorced for twenty-three years, and had devoted more time and energy to her career than to romance. But she missed being involved with someone, and was disappointed that no one had turned up in years. She was beginning to think that no one ever would again. Maybe she was too old. She certainly felt it now.

"I think one of your lawyers might retire," Alan said about the jack of spades. "Give me five more."

This time the king of hearts showed up, and the queen of diamonds. Alan smiled.

"Well, that's interesting. I see a new man," he said, smiling wider, and she shrugged, unimpressed.

"You've been saying it for three years."

"Patience, darling, patience. It's worth waiting for the right one. I like this man. He's important, powerful, very tall, and good-looking. I think you're going to meet him through your work." Valerie laughed at that.

"Not in my business. Any guy involved in decorating, lifestyle in the home, or the wedding industry is not likely to be straight. I'm going to have to meet him somewhere else."

"Maybe he's one of your producers," Alan said, concentrating on the cards. "I definitely think you're going to meet him through work." He had said that before, and no one had appeared. His other predictions were often true, but lately not about men. "I think your daughter might have a baby this year," he said, turning over the queen of diamonds and handing her the deck again. Valerie smiled and shook her head.

"I don't think that's going to happen. She works harder than I do. She doesn't even have time to date. She's not married, and I'm not at all sure she wants a husband or a child." Nor was Valerie anxious to be a grandmother—that was definitely not on her wish list or her radar screen, and fortunately it was not on her daughter's either. Alan was off on that one.

"I think she might surprise you," Alan said, as Valerie turned over five more cards and the reading continued. It was similar to what he always predicted for her, success in business, a new man on the scene, and an assortment of small warnings about upcoming projects and deals and people she worked with. But this time the new man came up several times. Alan was adamant about it, and Valerie sighed as she listened. People always told her that she couldn't have everything, a fabulous career and romance in her life too. Life just didn't work that way. No one got everything they wanted, they said, and Valerie hadn't either. Like most people, her success hadn't come easily, and in her case she had wound up alone. The two of them chatted as she continued to turn over the cards, and Alan told her what he saw ahead for her. Most of it was good. Her health wasn't a problem, he said, and as usual her ratings would soar. He saw some kind of production deal in the Far East, possibly a line of furniture, that would be advantageous for her, and it was obvious as he read for her that he genuinely liked her. She was honest, direct, and fair. Some people said she was tough, but it was mostly a standard of excellence that she applied to herself and everyone else. Valerie drove herself and everyone around her hard. She hadn't gotten to the top of her field by accident. She had crawled up the mountain for thirty-five years, with sheer hard work and a certain kind of genius and unfailing instinct about what she did. Alan admired her for that. He loved how straightforward she was. She didn't play games, or hide. What you saw was what you got. And he didn't need the cards to know how upset she was about her age today. Valerie said several times that sixty just seemed so goddamn old, and now everyone was going to know. He could see that the very thought of it made her want to cry.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 418 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 419 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    an entertaining contemporary romance

    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

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read

    Bought this book 2 days ago and can only say: another great book by Danielle Steel. Loved it!

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    A Book That Makes You Think

    Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel was quite an interesting adventure to read. This interesting and unique novel follows the lives of three individuals on their birthday, all coming across life changing moments and situations that can either make or break them.

    I love reading novels in different perspective. It gives you a better outlook on how different each character thinks and views life. In the case of Danielle Steel it adds depth to the tale and emphasizes an important point of the story; that's there's always hope even in the darkest of times and that it's never too late to make a change. Happy Birthday is indeed the first novel by Danielle that I have read and I have been turned into a fan. I enjoyed Danielle's unique and personal style of writing. Her story telling was very vivid and helped me associate and somehow identify with all the characters no matter how different they appeared. I found myself connecting the most with April. Perhaps it has something to do with being closer in age compared to the other characters. I found myself pitying her but also encouraging her from the side lines as I pushed through her story.

    I found Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel to be quite an enjoyable read about growing older, life's unexpected surprises and hope.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2011

    Whoever you are...PLEASE STOP complaining about the prices!!!

    Look, it is a cconvenience to be able to download a book in a few seconds. If you have an issue, sell your NOOK and tromp yourself into a book store to buy your books. But please, please quit taking up space on the reviews page when nobody cares. I want to see what REAL readers think about the BOOKS!!!

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Happy Birthday

    I will be buying this book when it comes out reguardless of the price,why because it comes out on my husband and my birthday. thought that was pretty funny.

    7 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011


    Will all of you complainers go to your county library. I just wanted valid customer reviews not your complaints. Please and thank you.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011






    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2011

    Great book

    Very good book! Could not put it down

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    This was my first DS book, and I did enjoy it very much. She does tend to repeat some things too many times, but overall the story is very fast paced, so I dont mind that so much. This was a sweet story with great characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    nook prices

    I am going to buy this book I love danielle steele books and I think the price is cheaper than a hardcover book at new release

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I love reading Danielle Steels books she is great. I loved reading Happy Birthday it was very good. I would recommend it to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Life is funny!

    This was a really good book, it gripped from the beginning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Danielle Steel's Happy Birthday is one of the few books I've rea

    Danielle Steel's Happy Birthday is one of the few books I've read because my mother insisted it was good. To my surprise I truly enjoyed it! Valerie Wyatt was a difficult character to like, but after awhile she won my heart. If there was anything negative about this book it is the language; not that I'm a prude but sometimes the cursing just seemed thrown in for making the adults sound like adults here, which makes the realism just a bit stilted. But other than this Happy Birthday had a good plot and some satisfying twists. And I've already got my eye on a few more Danielle Steel novels for future reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2012

    Another Danielle Steel hit

    From the first page to the last this book is highly enjoyable. The characters are warm and so real you feel as if you know them. I have read every Danielle Steel novel and this is among the best. I eagerly await the next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer


    Excellent book. I loved the twists and the romance. Great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    LOVED IT - Typical Danielle...Excellent as Always~

    This is a typical Danielle book. if you are a huge fan like I am...you will love every single word. The story was intensely satisfying, and the MC's were likeable and believable. The story was a little slow to develop at first, but once you get to the middle, it speeds along and holds your attention all the way to the end. Surprises and emotional moments were peppered throughout. It touched my heart. I loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2012

    Will be a Good read for All!

    I havent even read this as of yet,I preordered it but not received it so dont know how good a read it is,BN. makes you wait for books that are preordered and wont send them out when they on the market,not right to make you wait for several months!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012


    Fifth result for birthday

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012



    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    exc read

    Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel
    Valerie is now 60 and the radio announcer has told the whole world of this. She does
    look 40 though with all the botox she's had done. She has her own TV talk show.
    Her daughter, April has her own restaurant and hopes to open another one in the near
    future, also in NY. She's just found out on her birthday, that she shares with
    her mom that she is expecting and she has no boyfriend. It was just a one night stand.
    Jack is an ex football star/sports announcer and his back goes out a lot due to
    over exerting himself and is celebrating his birthday also.
    He's noticed blood around Valerie's lips and told her so when they met in the elevator.
    Terrorists bombarded and the building is overtaken with many hostages.
    They now find themselves spending more time with others as they realize every minute counts.
    Fires, birth, trips across the ocean, and a wedding are all in the works.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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