AudioBook Review: Happy Any Day Now by Toby Devens

AudioBook Review

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started on this AudioBook, although I had heard wonderful things about the story, there were several plot lines that had me curious about how they would be handled. 
I am thrilled to say that this audiobook recording was beautifully produced, with narration that enhanced the multiple levels of plot and emotion built in the printed pages.  Donna Postel didn’t over-exaggerate the accents, her voice was beautifully modulated and her pacing and tone inflections were beautiful accompaniments to the story.

The story itself was a combination of beautiful imagery and ‘shake her until she wakes up’ moments with Judith, on the cusp of her 50th birthday she is looking back on her life and examining her options.  A cellist with the philharmonic, her professional life is soaring even as her personal life is often unfocused and confusing. 

Instantly engaging and likable, Judith is intelligent and thoughtful with a litany of small gripes about her mother, even though her connection and admiration for the woman is clearly detailed.  There is not a dearth of interesting situations that she gets herself into either, while she dithers over her relationship with Geoff, and dares the fates with an old flame her inability to truly step back and see who or what is best for her heart at the moment.  Of course, she is also dealing with the return of her long lost father and the emotional turmoil that brings, leaving her emotional state even more in flux.

Judith is like many of us, looking back and wondering ‘what if’ even as our lives are proceeding apace: perhaps differing from childhood dreams but satisfactory none the less.  It isn’t that she isn’t happy, but that her expectations for happiness seem to be tied to unrealistic expectations and when she let her more sensible side take over, she found that she had held her joy all along.   With a smooth writing style, insertions of humor and some very clever ‘Judithisms’ that are mini life lessons to shore up otherwise shaky knees, the story moves forward beautifully and leaves the reader satisfied.

Stars:  Overall  5 Narration 5 Story 5

AudioBook Review:  Happy Any Day Now by Toby Devens

Title: Happy Any Day Now
Author: Toby Devens
Genre: Literary Fiction
Narrator: Donna Postel
Published by: Tantor Audio
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 352
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 20 minutes
Rated: five-stars
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Every five years my mother had her fortune read by Lulu Cho, owner of the Golden Lotus Massage Club for Men. Now it was my turn. And Lulu predicted one hurricane of a future for me!

Judith Soo Jin Raphael’s childhood was shaped by her hardworking immigrant mother, her father who left them, and her struggles to fit in as a half-Korean, half-Jewish kid in a tough urban neighborhood. But music lessons gave her a purpose and passion. Now, as Judith’s fiftieth birthday nears, she has rewarding work as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic, an enthusiastic if uncommitted lover, and a quirky but close relationship with her mother.

Then chaos strikes: Judith’s first love, who dumped her decades ago, returns to dazzle her with his golden pedigree and brilliant career. Her long-absent father arrives out of the blue with a snazzy car and a con man’s patter, turning her mother into a love-struck flirt whom Judith barely recognizes. All this while her mentor at the orchestra falls seriously ill. No wonder Judith develops a paralyzing case of stage fright.

Judith finds herself feeling—and sometimes acting—slightly unhinged, but she’s convinced that happiness will arrive any day now. She’s just got to hold on tight during this midlife shake-up...and claim the prize that life surely has in store for her.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Toby Devens

Born in Brooklyn, New York, I became a Broadway baby thanks to my "stage aunt" who was determined I'd have a career in show business. A pint sized, curly haired strawberry blond, I sang and acted on stage and TV (the money I made from sudsy soap opera roles helped pay my college tuition). But by twelve, like most other pre-teens, I just wanted to be one of the kids on the block. I also knew where my passion really lay, not in tap dancing before the camera, but in tapping words out on the keyboard. I wanted to, needed to, couldn't not, write. I started with my own fairy tales, went on to spin detective stories a la Nancy Drew, adapted Little Women as a one act play (and drafted my friends to act in it) and in high school wrote reams of poetry about young (sigh!) love.

At American University in Washington, D.C., I majored in English and became the first woman editor of AU's literary magazine, a historic moment in the shattering of glass ceilings. Or that's how I felt at nineteen. Drawn back to Manhattan, I earned a masters in English from New York University. And followed that—to my parents' utter astonishment—by actually supporting myself through writing, first as a restaurant reviewer (gaining fifteen pounds and a lifelong passion for béarnaise sauce) and theater critic for Where magazine, then as its New York editor, finally as a senior editor for Harcourt Brace publishers. Which is how I met my husband—interviewing him at a medical conference. He sent roses. I wrote more poetry.

In fact, my first book was a collection of prayer-poems published by Doubleday in hardcover and Avon (Harper Collins now) in paperback. Mercy, Lord, My Husband's in the Kitchen received glowing reviews from People magazine, the West Coast Review of Books, the New York Daily News and other publications. After my daughter was born, I wrote short fiction, poetry and articles for magazines such as Readers Digest, Parents, and McCall's.

As a young widow, I headed into the workforce full time as Sr. VP of Public Information for an international network of transplant banks. The job was fascinating and fulfilling. But writing fiction tugged at me with a gravity I couldn't resist. I had stories to tell about women's journeys, how they bonded, battled, survived and, usually, had the last laugh.

My first novel, My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), was published in 2006. It follows divorced surgeon Gwyneth, widowed artist Kat, and never-married businesswoman Fleur, as they prove that strong women only get better (and get even!—the story has a soul-satisfying revenge scene) with age.

After Midlife Crisis was published, I resumed my regularly scheduled life, but this time with the addition of grandkids, whom I consider a reward for living long enough to not care about spilled milk (real and metaphorical). And of course, I continued writing. What a gift that’s been for me! When things get tough in the real world, I can escape to a world of my own making, with characters, plots and endings designed by me. Talk about control!

And now my new novel, Happy Any Day Now, is scheduled for publication (Penguin/NAL ) on August 6. It introduces Judith Soo Jin Raphael, the half Jewish, half Korean star of the story. We meet her as she approaches her fiftieth birthday with a troubled history, an unquenchable talent, and a doubtful future. She and a unique cast of characters—from her hilarious and wise Korean war-bride mother Grace, to her errant returning father, to a brace of interesting, imperfect men—are eager to entertain you with a story of love and loss, humor, heartbreak, and soaring, beautiful music.