Authors: Toby Devens
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF TOBY DEVENS
HAPPY ANY DAY NOW
Happy Any Day Now
is a charming read for women of any age, especially those who have mothers, fathers, boyfriends, former lovers, or careers. Judith Soo Jin Raphael is unique and also completely like your best friend, facing decisions and doubts with courage and lots of LOL humor. I learned so much from reading this book, and had such fun!”
—Nancy Thayer, author of
The Hot Flash Club
“A smart, funny novel that explores the midlife angst of Judith Soo Jin Raphael, a half-Korean, half-Jewish classical cellist. Caught between two cultures, two lovers, and an errant father who reenters her life just as her professional and personal lives collide, Judith struggles to accept that what she wants might not truly be what she needs. Fast-paced and witty, with great dialogue and three-dimensional characters,
Happy Any Day Now
will ring true for many women.” —Cathy Holton, author of
“If you’re looking for smart, upbeat fiction with snappy dialogue and a fun peek into ethnic traditions,
Happy Any Day Now
is perfect. A lively read that offers an interesting behind-the-scenes look at a symphony orchestra and a midlife heroine who is all grown up but still capable of being comically and poignantly bewildered by life.” —Nancy Martin, author of
Little Black Book of Murder
Written by today’s freshest new talents and selected by New American Library, NAL Accent novels touch on subjects close to a woman’s heart, from friendship to family to finding our place in the world. The Conversation Guides included in each book are intended to enrich the individual reading experience, as well as encourage us to explore these topics together—because books, and life, are meant for sharing.
Visit us online at www.penguin.com.
“Judith Raphael is half-Korean and half-Jewish, and full-on fabulous! Toby Devens’s novel is warm, witty, and wonderful.”
—Wendy Wax, author of
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
“Never has a midlife crisis—or actually a perfect storm of them—been treated with such charm, insight, and smart, sardonic humor. Judith Soo Jin Raphael, the heroine of Toby Devens’s engaging new novel, is half-Korean, half-Jewish, and facing her fiftieth birthday, she is carrying enough emotional baggage and family history to last several additional lifetimes. With a deft touch, Devens spins a tale of lost opportunities and rediscovered romance, second chances and second thoughts, family secrets and lasting friendships. Set in the fascinating world of classical music—with all its pressures, rivalries, passions, and loyalties—Devens’s
Happy Any Day Now
is a virtuoso performance which is bound to win Devens a host of new fans.”
—Liza Gyllenhaal, author of
A Place for Us
MY FAVORITE MIDLIFE CRISIS (YET)
“An excellent read! Toby Devens weaves an intricate tale of lust, deceit, divorce, and face-lifts, as her unique protagonist navigates her way.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Sex on the Moon
The Accidental Billionaires
“Zing it on! Toby Devens has created three warm and witty characters that I’d love to have as my friends.”
bestselling author of
Shadow of the Moon
“A delicious concoction of delightful characters for whom the best revenge is proving that a woman’s middle years can be rich, ripe, and wickedly funny.”
—Chassie West, Edgar and Anthony award–nominated author of the Leigh Ann Warren Mysteries
“Wickedly funny and wonderfully poignant.”
—Elizabeth Ashtree, author of
Into Thin Air
“A wise and witty debut.”
“Devens tackles meaty topics touching many women’s lives.”
“Devens’s novel is really about women successful in life, in friends, and in their chosen profession, realizing what’s really important as they reach middle age. Wonderful characters make this humorous and heartwarming tale a pleasure to read.”
“A devastatingly funny, poignant, all too true novel of the ultimate midlife crisis of three best friends as they enter their menopausal years.”
National Association of Baby Boomer Women
OTHER NOVELS BY TOBY DEVENS
My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet)
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published by NAL Accent, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, August 2013
Copyright © Toby Devens, 2013
Conversation Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Happy any day now/Toby Devens.
1. Middle-aged women—Maryland—Baltimore—Fiction.
2. Women musicians—Maryland—Baltimore—Fiction.
3. Self-actualization (Psychology) in middle age—Fiction.
4. Life change events—Fiction. I. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
For the next generation of strong, talented women—especially Felicia, Sarina, and Elizabeth
very five years my mother had her fortune read by Lulu Cho, the owner of the Golden Lotus Massage Club for Men. She didn’t find it strange that the old gods, in their mysterious wisdom, had elected to send their portents through a sex parlor shaman. I thought it was crazy, but it was a Korean thing. It made her happy, no harm done.
Then last year she set
up with Lulu. “My fifty birthday present to you, Judith. Count from birth, you already in fifty year. Time just right for reading.”
Even if Lulu Cho was a true
and could really predict the future, I had zero desire to hear what was coming up for the rest of my life. I was just as glad no one had warned me about the past before I had to deal with it.
I protested. My mother insisted. “No argue. Reading is booked. Lulu has policy. No return, no exchange.”
Which is how I came to be sitting in a cramped apartment with a scotch-sipping
across from me and my mother next to me, rapping her knuckles nervously on the kitchen table.
I have to admit, I got caught up in it at first, the spooky stuff. I’m half Korean, half Jewish, so I inherited the superstition gene from both sides. When Lulu Cho rang a small brass bell and scattered rice and coins across a lacquered tray, I held my breath. When she chanted in Korean, a thrill ran up my spine. But the spell vaporized when she announced in a dramatic doomsday voice, “Now we begin.”
She’d been reading my mother’s fortune for decades, so I figured she probably knew a lot about me and she’d start with the obvious stuff like any fraud.
The first half of my life had been stormy. “Bad weather, much thunder for little girl. Ten birthday, you be so angry. Heart feel hard like stone.” True . . .
She lifted her glass, took a swig of the Johnnie Walker Red she claimed helped her make potent connections with the spirits, and licked her lips.
“Twenty okay, but thirty birthday not so hot. Love signs crashing.”
She nailed that one. I’d whipped up something of a hurricane for my thirtieth birthday. That was the year I was totally obsessed with marriage and my lack of same or prospects related to. By the year’s end, I stood under the wedding canopy with “Rebound Todd,” regretting it even before the rabbi said the final blessing.
“Forty, very very sad. You feel empty inside,” Lulu said.
On target again. The big four-oh was mainly about my ovaries, specifically their age-related deterioration. The dimming prospect for babies. There was a lot of weeping that birthday.
“Blessed with talent, but cursed with much trouble in past, Judith.” The
’s eyes were squinched in concentration. Mine were open and rolling, earning a pinch on the arm from my mother, who hung on to every word.
“Ouch.” I rubbed the spot above my elbow.
“Be nice, Judith.”
I stage-whispered, “Oh, come on,
. You told her all about me. Filled in the details.”
“Not true. Not say one word. She hear all from . . .” Grace pointed upward, ostensibly to heaven, really to apartment 3C.
“Grace tell you the truth,” Lulu pronounced. “And now we look to future. Fifty is
, good luck. I hope I find good luck for you.” She gave me a quick smile, reached across the table, and took my hand. “Okay. You have love now. More love ahead. Maybe too much love. Bring problems. But”—she squinted—“I think you solve.”
I shrugged. Who needed more love? I already had Geoff Birdsall, six years younger, Australian, hunky, a talented musician who was also very gifted in bed. Our connection was heavy on pleasure, light on commitment. The last thing it brought me was problems.
“Music important. Music in your life until the very end.” I was a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic Orchestra. My mother bragged about my job to everyone. A no-brainer. “And you never go deaf.” That was reassuring.
She guessed right about my problem with acid reflux and my desire to lose five pounds—like the rest of the known world. And then, right in the middle of forecasting the onset of menopause, Lulu froze, her stare fixed on a spot in the distance.
“What? You see roach?” my mother asked.
had lapsed into a trance. Maybe thirty seconds went by.
Then, roused by a shudder, Lulu clapped her hands to her head and hissed as if she were speaking for an evil spirit. “Judith,
.” She called out my name in a thin, high-pitched voice not her own. “Judith!” Her eyes slid to white, then closed.
Cradling her temples in her hands, she rocked back and forth. “Ay, stop the pain. Head split like lightning hit. Worst pain.” She moaned. She cried out as a wild spasm shook her body.
Then, suddenly, all was quiet. She slumped in her chair. Her eyes opened and focused. I figured she was back from the spirit world. The bony finger that had just wiped spittle from her mouth pointed at me. “You listen, Judith. Danger coming close. You have to see doctor soon. Soon as possible. Matter of life and death. Black crows circle round your head. I see—” Her hand shot out to touch my hair.
“No!” My mother toppled the tray with the rice and coins as she stood up. “Reading over. Enough for now. Judith, get up.” Trembling, she reached into her wallet, peeled off five twenties, snatched back two of them, and tossed the rest on the table. “Not worth more. Not worth nothing. Very bad fortune. You should be shamed, Lulu. You are lousy
The following week, as I walked to my car after a rehearsal of Verdi’s
, half a block from the musician’s garage I was struck by what neurologists call a thunderclap headache—the worst pain in the history of pain. A minute into the agony, I collapsed with the aneurysm that almost killed me.