Secrets to Happiness

( 40 )

Overview

Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life—with Holly's ex!

Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any ...

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Overview

Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life—with Holly's ex!

Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana.

From the author of The Big Love, Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal—and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy.

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Editorial Reviews

Jincy Willett
In the end, what makes Dunn's novel such a pleasure to read is the very thing that keeps it from being a breathless page-turner: Holly's singular spirituality. She may be as baffled as everyone else about how to achieve happiness, but she also knows that happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be. In a world—fictional and non- —where doing a good thing gets you accused of having a messiah complex, and doing whatever you want is justified as following your path, Holly never stops trying to figure out where her duty lies. Underneath it all—the sex, the shopping, the city—she's an old-fashioned heroine. Also funny.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Dunn charts several New Yorkers' lives in this snappy novel. The spotlight most often falls on Holly Frick, a 35-year-old divorcée whose egg walls "are taking on the consistency of tissue paper as we speak." A writer whose cheeky first novel bombed, Holly now resides low enough on the TV totem pole to be cranking out after-school dreck with her gay pal Leonard. Meanwhile, her best friend, Amanda, is cheating on her husband, and Holly adopts Chester, a cute little dog with cancer whose hopeful approach to life mirrors Holly's. While Holly's love life follows a formula-familiar trajectory, Amanda's romantic flailing ensnares Holly, and Chester's destiny takes an unexpected turn that means big changes for both of them. Although clichés pop up (the supergay friend, a $1,200 purse splurge), the energetic and witty prose speeds along the narrative. It's smarter than the usual single-in-the-city fare, and funnier, too. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Like Dunn's heroine in her debut, The Big Love, Holly Frick is brokenhearted and looking for happiness against the backdrop of hectic New York City. Holly believes in doing the right thing. Whether it's a result of her evangelical Christian upbringing or just a generally overactive conscience, the "right thing" includes adopting a dog with a brain tumor and meeting her married friend's paramour because her friend thinks they'll like each other. The assorted cast of supporting characters includes a 22-year-old lover, a skinny girl who finally agrees to date the overweight guy from her gym, and a gay man who has an unhealthy relationship with his attention deficit disorder meds. These characters circle around Holly in an exploration of six degrees of separation as she touches each of them-and they her-in their quests for happiness. Readers of Dunn's previous novel and fans of Jennifer Weiner and Jane Green will enjoy the sophisticated tone of this classic searching-for-love story. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/08.]
—Anika Fajardo

Booklist
"Dunn displays a rapier wit; a perfectly nuanced gift for savvy, sophisticated dialogue; and an endearing moral compass, which she uses to great advantage as she blithely navigates the fraught and fatuous world of trendy New York's treacherous dating scene."
Entertainment Weekly
"Secrets to Happiness ... makes for good, sharp fun."
Marie Claire
"A savory treat...packed with dogs, divorce, and dizzying dysfunction."
New York Times Book Review
"Unlike chick lit, chick TV and chick movies, Secrets to Happiness is actually funny.... In the end, what makes Dunn's novel such a pleasure to read is the very thing that keeps it from being a breathless page-turner: Holly's singular spirituality. She may be as baffled as everyone else about how to achieve happiness, but she also knows that happiness isn't all that it's cracked up to be. In a world -- fictional and non- -- where doing a good thing gets you accused of having a messiah complex, and doing whatever you want is justified as following your path, Holly never stops trying to figure out where her duty lies. Underneath it all -- the sex, the shopping, the city -- she's an old-fashioned heroine. Also funny."
People
"A big-city smart, yet universally appealing, little gem. . . . The hapless protagonist of this topical novel is such a clever observer of modern life, offering a wealth of Exacto-sharp theories that echo sentiments we may feel but would hesitate to express."
The New York Observer
"Secrets to Happiness is smart, bitingly funny, laced with sitcom-sharp dialogue and bittersweet. Far from a confectionary tale, it reads more like a spiritual journey, one that follows Holly and a cast of supporting characters as they try to turn their lives around.... But since this is not a chick-lit book, a guy is not the answer here. For Holly and her supporting cast, the secret to happiness is embracing the fact that, as one character states, it's O.K. to live an ordinary life. This means accepting a life they would have otherwise shunned."
The Wall Street Journal
"Ms. Dunn shuttles her characters around New York with deft precision, weaving their lives together seamlessly."
TIME
"Sarah Dunn is a wise and brilliant writer who doesn't sacrifice emotional complexity for low humor--she gives you both."
New York Observer
"SECRETS TO HAPPINESSis smart, bitingly funny, laced with sitcom-sharp dialogue, and bittersweet. Far from a confectionary tale, it reads more like a spiritual journey, one that follows Holly and a cast of supporting characters as they try to turn their lives around. . . . But since this is not a chick-lit book, a guy is not the answer here. For Holly and her supporting cast, the secret to happiness is embracing the fact that, as one character states, it's OK to live an ordinary life. This means accepting a life they would have otherwise shunned."
Boston Globe
"Sarah Dunn's novel zips along hilariously, fueled by pitch-perfect dialogue. . . . SECRETS TO HAPPINESS is an antic urban comedy, with enough neurotic characters to fill the cast of a Woody Allen movie. It's great fun."
Delia Ephron
I love this book. Sarah Dunn is very funny, that's the first thing to say. But she is also deep, interesting and subtle. Her characters could be my friends and yet they utterly surprise me. She is so smart about life and society and the complex and contradictory ways our hearts behave. "Oh that is so true." As I read Secrets to Happiness, I found myself thinking that again and again and again.
author of Hanging Up and co-writer of You've Got Mail
Christopher Moore
Secrets to Happiness is a fun, insightful portrait of the urban professional woman, and mercifully devoid of shoe shopping scenes. Sarah Dunn is a terrifically talented writer with a brilliant sense of comic timing.
author of Lamb and A Dirty Job
Emily Giffin
A smart, heartwarmingly funny story about modern love in the city.Secrets to Happinessis brimming with Sarah Dunn's vivid characters and engaging voice and will linger long after you've finished the last page. I love this book!
author of Love the One You're With and Something Borrowed
Toby Young
Sarah Dunn achieves what so many authors set out to do but so few manage: she captures the Zeitgeist. If you can imagine a cross between Candace Bushnell and Edith Wharton, that is Sarah Dunn.
author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Wall Street Journal
"Ms. Dunn shuttles her characters around New York with deft precision, weaving their lives together seamlessly."
The Miami Herald
"Here's a secret: Read the book. More likely than not, it'll make you happy."
Delia Ephron - author of Hanging Up and co-writer of You've Got Mail
"I love this book. Sarah Dunn is very funny, that's the first thing to say. But she is also deep, interesting and subtle. Her characters could be my friends and yet they utterly surprise me. She is so smart about life and society and the complex and contradictory ways our hearts behave. "Oh that is so true." As I read Secrets to Happiness, I found myself thinking that again and again and again."
Christopher Moore - author of Lamb and A Dirty Job
"Secrets to Happiness is a fun, insightful portrait of the urban professional woman, and mercifully devoid of shoe shopping scenes. Sarah Dunn is a terrifically talented writer with a brilliant sense of comic timing."
Emily Giffin - author of Love the One You're With and Something Borrowed
"A smart, heartwarmingly funny story about modern love in the city.Secrets to Happinessis brimming with Sarah Dunn's vivid characters and engaging voice and will linger long after you've finished the last page. I love this book!"
Toby Young - author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
"Sarah Dunn achieves what so many authors set out to do but so few manage: she captures the Zeitgeist. If you can imagine a cross between Candace Bushnell and Edith Wharton, that is Sarah Dunn."
From the Publisher
"SECRETS TO HAPPINESSis smart, bitingly funny, laced with sitcom-sharp dialogue, and bittersweet. Far from a confectionary tale, it reads more like a spiritual journey, one that follows Holly and a cast of supporting characters as they try to turn their lives around. . . . But since this is not a chick-lit book, a guy is not the answer here. For Holly and her supporting cast, the secret to happiness is embracing the fact that, as one character states, it's OK to live an ordinary life. This means accepting a life they would have otherwise shunned."—New York Observer

"Sarah Dunn's novel zips along hilariously, fueled by pitch-perfect dialogue. . . . SECRETS TO HAPPINESS is an antic urban comedy, with enough neurotic characters to fill the cast of a Woody Allen movie. It's great fun."—Boston Globe

"I love this book. Sarah Dunn is very funny, that's the first thing to say. But she is also deep, interesting and subtle. Her characters could be my friends and yet they utterly surprise me. She is so smart about life and society and the complex and contradictory ways our hearts behave. "Oh that is so true." As I read Secrets to Happiness, I found myself thinking that again and again and again."—Delia Ephron, author of Hanging Up and co-writer of You've Got Mail

"Secrets to Happiness is a fun, insightful portrait of the urban professional woman, and mercifully devoid of shoe shopping scenes. Sarah Dunn is a terrifically talented writer with a brilliant sense of comic timing."—Christopher Moore, author of Lamb and A Dirty Job

"A smart, heartwarmingly funny story about modern love in the city.Secrets to Happinessis brimming with Sarah Dunn's vivid characters and engaging voice and will linger long after you've finished the last page. I love this book!"—Emily Giffin, author of Love the One You're With and Something Borrowed

"Sarah Dunn achieves what so many authors set out to do but so few manage: she captures the Zeitgeist. If you can imagine a cross between Candace Bushnell and Edith Wharton, that is Sarah Dunn."—Toby Young, author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

"Sharp-witted Dunn follows her debut (The Big Love, 2004) with a ... tale simultaneously elevated by its snappy humor and tinged by some reflective shading.... Deft repartee and happy endings all around ... in this smart chick-lit tale with dark undertones."—Kirkus

"Dunn charts several New Yorkers' lives in this snappy novel..... the energetic and witty prose speeds along the narrative. It's smarter than the usual single-in-the-city fare, and funnier, too."—Publishers Weekly

"Dunn displays a rapier wit; a perfectly nuanced gift for savvy, sophisticated dialogue; and an endearing moral compass, which she uses to great advantage as she blithely navigates the fraught and fatuous world of trendy New York's treacherous dating scene."—Booklist

"A savory treat...packed with dogs, divorce, and dizzying dysfunction."—Marie Claire"Secrets to Happiness ... makes for good, sharp fun."—Entertainment Weekly

"A big-city smart, yet universally appealing, little gem. . . . The hapless protagonist of this topical novel is such a clever observer of modern life, offering a wealth of Exacto-sharp theories that echo sentiments we may feel but would hesitate to express."—People

"Ms. Dunn shuttles her characters around New York with deft precision, weaving their lives together seamlessly."—Wall Street Journal

"Sarah Dunn is a wise and brilliant writer who doesn't sacrifice emotional complexity for low humor—she gives you both."—TIME

"Here's a secret: Read the book. More likely than not, it'll make you happy."—The Miami Herald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781436174701
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/5/2009
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Sarah Dunn has moved from Los Angeles to New York five times, and from New York back to Los Angeles four times, which means she is happily back in New York, where she lives with her husband, Peter Stevenson, and their son, Harry. Her first novel, The Big Love, has been translated into 23 languages.

Biography

Sarah Dunn was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She went to the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and graduated magna cum laude. After college, she wrote a humor column for the Philadelphia City Paper while waiting tables (poorly) at TGI Fridays. When she was 24, she published The Official Slacker Handbook, and was subsequently lured out to Hollywood to write for Murphy Brown, Spin City and Veronica's Closet. She left TV to work on her first novel, The Big Love, which came out in 2004 and has been translated into 23 languages. She is currently writing a television pilot for NBC called George & Hilly, and her long-awaited second novel, Secrets to Happiness, comes out this spring. She is married to Peter Stevenson, the executive editor of The New York Observer, and they have a chunky delicious new baby boy named Harry.

Good To Know

Dunn's first book, The Official Slacker Handbook, was published in 1994.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 28, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Phoenix, Arizona
    1. Education:
      B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1991

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(7)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 3, 2009

    Secrets to Happiness is sharply funny and yet still sweet and warm hearted!

    What is the secret to happiness? This is a question you'll hear a lot these days! Holly thinks that she knows the secrets until her husband leaves her. She's back at the drawing board and with a hunky, young lover, a sweet, ill dog, and a cheating best friend all to help her figure it out.

    This book starts (and ends) with great, quirky, loveable characters. They are all flawed and each trying their best to find the ever elusive happiness. I love that Sarah Dunn explores all the options. Sure, for some, the secret to happiness is a white picket fence. But in the modern world it can also be a sad, sweet dog, the man your best friend is having an affair with, or the job you thought you hated. You have to open to happiness from anywhere, you never know when it will strike!

    Secrets to Happiness is sharply funny and yet still sweet and warm hearted. Sarah Dunn pokes fun of her characters even while she is guiding them down the path to happiness. I really enjoyed this book. It was smart enough to keep me reading and warm enough to make me feel good in the end.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 18, 2009

    Hilarious Read

    If you want to laugh this is the book for you. Sarah Dunn's characters are hilarious and her voice just makes it funnier. The story is great and moves along at a great pace. I have passed this book along to two friends and each one loved it as much as I did. I couldn't put it down and I laughed out loud and even laughed so hard I cried a few times. I will re-read it once I get it back.
    It also has a lot of meaning about what we expect from life and the roles we think we need to play and what actually happens. Even though it takes place in New York, I think anyone who like a funny read about relationships will get a kick out of it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    unanticipated

    I sat down with this book not expecting much - I did buy it for the cover. I ended up flying through the pages and enjoying a few emotional moments where my heart ached and tears swelled in my eyes.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Universe has a Way of Working Things Out

    Holly Frick, the main character, believes in the basic goodness and morality of humanity but finds herself more and more disappointed as she sees the failings and shortcomings of those closest to her. In a humorous expose of her misadventures, Holly finds herself busy trying to keep those around her on the straight and narrow. Meanwhile, she misses opportunities for her own happiness until she realizes the secret is letting go of her expectations of others while learning to live with and accept the imperfections of humanity.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Loved it! Very realistic to life today; and I think that is impo

    Loved it! Very realistic to life today; and I think that is important. A love of reading can stem from an escape
    using the imagination, or from wanting/needing to relate to something. This was a perfect blend. I suggest it to anyone. You cannot knock a simple, easy, feel good, realistic read like this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Quirky

    I liked the quirky characters and the twists in the plot. Very relate-able to any NYC woman!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    cute story!

    I loved all the unexpected twists and turns of this novel. It was a fun read with funny characters. I loved Holly's character and how determined she was to do the right hing even living in such a big modern day city. Looking forward to the next read by Sarah Dunn!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2010

    Loved This Book!

    It was such a fun read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Not very good

    Was not into this book at all!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    Their is no Secrets in Secrets to Happiness

    The characters were so dis-organized and heading no place. When reading a page turner you want to keep going and see why they are doing what they are doing, in this book you never cared what the people were doing. Their is no plot or purpose. Half way threw the book i kept thinking about the poor sick dog in the apartment that is spoke of in maybe 4 pages. This sick dog is who knows where? He is dropped from the story for the next 100 pages. I bought the book because of the high reviews. Save your money! Save your time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    Cute, but still not worth it.

    This book was cute, but expected. The writing is OK. Not a page turner though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2009

    This SUCKED!!

    It was horrible!! DO NOT waste you money!! I was so disapointed!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    So-So

    The book cover was the best part. Not the worst book I've read but pretty lackluster.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    funny and charming

    good summer read, but was expecting a better ending. Holly is a funny character.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sarah Dunn- Secrets to Happiness

    Sarah Dunn's Secrets to Happiness is chick lit. I know, it's fashionable these days to cease designating any novel that features women in LA or NY who are struggling to find boyfriends who don't embarrass them in public, who find pets adorable, who shop for brand name shoes and fashion, who are insulted if someone thinks they even look like they might be a size 6, and whose friends, both male and female, are as witty and bon mot-filled as they are as "chick-lit." But I'm sorry. The genre does have it hallmarks and this book has all of them save the rabid concentration on shoes. Prada is mentioned but not Jimmy Choo that I recall, but the desire to mention them is constant.

    There are several heroines in Secrets to Happiness, none of which are happy to any significant degree. There's Betsy Silverstein who is caught in a cycle of dates that end in fellatio because she's developed a reputation for being good at it. There's Amanda who has a darling toddler, Jacob, and a dutiful and witty husband, Mark, but she prefers sleeping with Jack. There's Holly, probably the main character, whose husband has dumped her and whose ex-lover, Spence, is a chronic womanizer and liar. Of course Holly also sleeps with Jack to keep characters in touch with each other. There's Crazy Molly who takes incriminating photos of herself with Spence and emails them to Spence's current girlfriend, who is also unhappy.

    Chick lit generally and consistently implies or avers that happiness is found in the arms of a constant lover and thus endeth Secrets to Happiness. The genre may demand it, but for those female authors who object to classification as authors of chick-lit, with its implications of second-rate literary quality, bite the bullet: if it looks like chick-lit and reads like chick-lit and continues or advances the conceits of chick-lit, then it IS chick-lit. Cash your advance and be happy. To deny that the genre exists, or to claim that it is falling out of popularity in favor of "literature" or that it is anything but romance fiction dolled up in Manhattan clothes and budgets is simply a waste of breath. One wonders at the level of defensiveness about it among women authors and readers.

    Secrets to Happiness is skillfully written, everybody is smart and quick and capable of great things. It is just not much more than another example of women talking and talking and cheating and cheating and blaming men for it. I like to read it once in a while, if for no other reason than to prove the genre alive and, if not well, at least not terminal. Oh. And the adorable beagle on the jacket? He comes in at the end but there is another dog to fill in the emotional space for those of you into dogs and pets. As faithless as the men are in chick lit, so must the pets be loyal and true.

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  • Posted July 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    delightful

    I picked this book up after Emily Giffin (another author I enjoy) recommended it as a "satisfying summer read" on her twitter page, and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed Dunn's characters, candor, and wit. It was funny and touching at the same time -- an overall charming read.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sex And The City, Move Over

    Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life--with Holly's ex!

    Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana.

    From the author of The Big Love, Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal--and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy.


    This was a very enjoyable read. Fast-paced and interesting, you won't be able to put this one down as you follow the threads of each of the characters, especially Holly in her quest for love. We all probably know a Holly Frick even if our Holly days are far behind us. This is a great summer read and recommended for anyone navigating the shoals of love and relationships.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing!

    This book was just as great as The Big Love. I went through it in one sitting and it's a must read.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Even better than The Big Love.

    Sarah Dunn truly knows how to pen a story and folks who enjoyed The Big Love will be greatly pleased with her newest effort. Secrets To Happiness is easily readable and enjoyable in every way.

    If I could give it 4 1/2 stars, I would. Well-worth getting in hardcover and adding to your library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    LOVED IT!

    did not want to put it down....

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