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.
Before her birthday is over, April experiences a life-changing event that will forever entwine her future with gorgeous but snide food critic Mike Steinman, who gave her restaurant a scathing review after he spent a drunken night in her arms. While the review was less than satisfactory, fortunately or unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the sex. Just as April begins to reconcile herself to her future and even delight in its possibilities, tragedy strikes. While her mother’s life hangs by a finely woven thread, April struggles to hold it together and find comfort in Mike’s surprisingly warm and capable arms.
The concept behind HAPPY BIRTHDAY is an intriguing one, to say the least. Author 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. Set in New York City and full of the glitz and glamour that it implies, the book entwines the fast pace of the city with the strong, warm bonds of family. As each character struggles to reconcile themselves with a milestone birthday, they find love and happiness in spite of themselves.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY reminded me exactly why I’ve been a Danielle Steel fan for decades. Fascinating, lovable characters who aren‘t afraid of their imperfections, world-class settings, and storylines that simply swept me along in its momentum are just some of the reasons why the author name on the cover makes a book an auto-buy for me.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on August 12, 2011