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In a world where plastic surgery is as popular as a pair of sexy Manolo Blahniks, suburban single mom Jessica Taylor is trying to make it past forty with nothing more than moisturizer and a swipe of mascara. Her glamorous best friend, TV producer Lucy Baldor, has a different idea of aging gracefully. “My body is a temple,” Lucy explains. “I just don’t want it to crumble like St. John the Divine.”
Jess and Lucy’s friendship has weathered the trials of marriage, the births of children, and the transition from itty-bitty bikinis to “Kindest Cut” one-piece suits. Now the women are discovering that midlife crises aren’t just for men—they’re equal-opportunity dilemmas.
To Jess’s dismay, Lucy announces that she’s taken a lover. A very famous lover. Her husband, Dan, is bound to find out (especially after a picture of the amorous duo appears on Page Six of the New York Post), but Lucy’s too wrapped up in the joys of expensive lingerie and romantic retreats to care. Jess finds herself in the midst of her own romantic predicament when, after ten years of silence, her sexy French ex-husband, Jacques, ends up back in her life—and in her bed.
Whether navigating bake sales, bicoastal affairs, or bagels-and-Botox parties, these wise and witty women know that their friendship will remain the one true thing they can count on. Well, that and a good push-up bra, of course. And their bond withstands everything—from an orgy in Willie Nelson’s trailer to a reality TV-show bachelor named Boulder.
Funny, brazen, and often poignant, this irresistible novel offers an unexpected and entertaining look at two women’s midlife adventures. From Thai massage to tantric sex, who would have thought forty could be so much fun?
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Between them, authors Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger have lived in three countries, married four times, raised three children, and published seven books. They’ve produced hundreds of hours of network television shows and written articles for just about every women’s magazine in America. Both have appeared regularly on television shows including Oprah, Good Morning America, and Today. Each is happily married and living in New York. This is their first collaboration.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
champagne corks are popping and it’s only five a.m.
“Darling,” Lucy trills as I groggily cradle the phone between my ear and my goose down pillow. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
Of course not. Why would I be asleep at this hour when I could be up repotting the azaleas?
“Where are you?” I ask, fumbling for the Brite-Lite clock on the night table to confirm that, yes, it’s still two hours until my alarm goes off. “Traveling?”
“L.A., darling,” Lucy says. “Working.”
I knew that. When she’s in New York, Lucy lives around the corner in a big Tudor house, but she regularly packs off to Burbank to produce glamorous TV shows. Being on the opposite coast causes her to sink into saying “darling” too much.
“Everything okay?” I ask, awake enough now for my worry genes to have kicked in.
“Absolutely, yes,” Lucy says as I hear what I swear is another champagne cork popping in the background. She bursts into giggles, covers the phone, and calls out, “Watch it, darling!”
“What’s going on there?” I ask.
“It’s not what you think. We’re rehearsing for a show and there’s a scene with Dom Perignon. We’re using real French champagne, even for the sound check.”
French champagne. I sit up abruptly realizing that when the phone rang, I had been dreaming about Jacques, my very own Frenchman. We were lying naked, with our arms wrapped around each other at the edge of a warm, sunny beach. He was kissing me passionately as the waves lapped over us. Wait a minute. Didn’t I see that same scene in some old movie? I put the phone down and notice the TV across the room is still flickering. I must have fallen asleep watching From Here to Eternity. Again.
“Yoo-hoo, ” Lucy calls impatiently. “Earth to Jess. You still with me?”
I clear my throat. “Jacques,” I say. “We were making love.”
“Jacques? Jacques is there?” Lucy screams so loudly across the country that she doesn’t even need her brand-new cherry red Nokia 120000RICH cell phone.
“No, Jacques isn’t here. Of course not. We were on the beach.” That’s not what I meant to say. “I mean I was dreaming about him on the beach. Nude.” I manage to stop myself before I get to the climax. Of the story. Next topic. I realize it’s two a.m. on her coast so I say, “But anyway, you’re working late.”
“I know. All night. Everyone thinks my life is all poolside meetings with Ben Affleck, but all I do out here is work, work, work.” Lucy sounds awfully cheerful for a poor working girl. But then again, she’s downing champagne while I’m cozying up to a blue plastic tumbler of tepid bathroom water.
“So what’s going on?” I ask, wondering why this call couldn’t have waited for daybreak—on either coast.
“I’m so sorry to bother you, ” Lucy says, taking a deep breath, “but it’s about the bake sale.”
Ah, right. The fifth-grade bake sale. Now that’s certainly worth a call at five a.m. In fact, I bet she’s halted shooting on her million-dollar production in order to get this handled.
“I need a favor, darling,” Lucy says. “Dan said he’d pick up something for Lily to bring, but that means it will be store-bought. Uck. I’ll look like a bad mother. So two questions. What are you making for Jen to take, and would you mind very much making double?”
Double what? I haven’t even given it a thought. I’ve just barely recovered from making nachos to send to school last week for International Lunch Day. The week before it was homemade yogurt for the Dairy-Tasting Project. Did I miss the PTA meeting when they installed Martha Stewart as the new principal? Jen’s homework tonight will no doubt include long division, current events, and . . .
“Cupcakes!” I say brightly. “Jen and I are going to make cupcakes.”
“I knew it!” Lucy says gleefully. “You make the best cupcakes! And you could make Jen’s with pink frosting and Lily’s with blue frosting, so they’d each feel special.”
I groan. That’s just what I need, cooking instructions from three thousand miles away. “Lucy, stick to producing your show and I’ll produce the cupcakes, okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Lucy says, sounding genuinely contrite. “I don’t mean to be so controlling. It’s hard being out of town and I just want everything to go right. And I’m only calling at this crazy hour because once we start shooting for real, I won’t have a second.”
Now I feel bad for jumping at her. So I try to compensate. Or overcompensate, as usual. “Listen, why doesn’t Lily come over tonight and the girls can make the cupcakes together. Then they can decorate them any way they want.”
And so what that after the girls are asleep I’ll probably gorge on gobs of leftover frosting—both pink and blue? I eat when I’m tired, and without a real-life Jacques around to notice, who really cares if a single mom has a little extra frosting on the hips?
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you,” Lucy says. “Lily will love that. I’ll call Dan and let him know.”
Dan, the husband of the year.
“Tell Dan that Lily should come for dinner, too. It’ll be easier for him.”
I have to stop. In another minute, I’ll be offering to run over and scrub her bathrooms and sleep with her husband so that her being away doesn’t inconvenience anybody too much. Anybody except me.
“Are you sure it’s not too much trouble?” Lucy asks.
“Of course not,” I say. “I love having girls’ night.”
“Well, we need one of those girls’ nights for just you and me as soon as I get back,” Lucy says. Then lowering her voice, she whispers into the cell phone, “You won’t believe what’s happened on this trip. I can’t wait to tell you. You’re the only friend I have who’d understand.”
Another champagne cork pops in the background, and Lucy dissolves into giggles. This time she covers the phone, but I can still hear her say, “Enough already! I’ll be right there.”
When we hang up, I pull the comforter up around my shoulders. I should try to fall asleep, but the minute I close my eyes I see Jacques again on that beach. I open them. This will never do. Jacques is my ex. In fact he happened so long ago that he’s an ex-ex-ex.
Alas, it’s the Triple-X elements of him that I seem to miss the most.
I make myself sit up and flick on the Itty Bitty reading lamp by my bed. As long as I’m awake I might as well get something done since my to-do list is longer than the newly revised tax code. I desperately need to deep-condition my hair, order a new bath mat, reorganize the closets, reupholster the sofa, recaulk the counters and renew Jen’s library books. And while I’m at it I should find a faster printer, a faster Internet provider, and a faster exercise program. I’m still spending thirty minutes twice a week on the treadmill, when everyone else is building Better Abs in Five Minutes a Day. With all the time I’d save, I’m sure I could do something about world peace.
But world peace is going to have to wait, because I end up spending the next hour flicking through the Lands’ End catalog and por- ing over pictures of the “Kindest Cut” bathing suits. All modeled by women more-or-less my age, apparently grateful for the extra bra support and the no-ride backside. The one-piece suits are cut high on top, low on bottom and loose all around. How did I get this catalog anyway? Do the fashion police know I’m over forty? I reflexively glance down at my breasts. Still firm, but less than perky. Maybe I just need my morning coffee. I was reading just yesterday that caffeine is a great pick-me-up—for your breasts. No wonder Starbucks stock is on the rise.
I sigh and toss aside the catalog. From the next bedroom, I hear my daughter Jen moving around, humming happily to herself. Why would I worry about long-gone bikini-wearing days when the present is blessed by a loving daughter with a crooked smile who gets up in the morning singing? Sure enough, a minute later she comes bounding into my room.
“Hey, Mom. Wanna hear my new song?” she asks, bursting with more energy than Britney Spears in a Pepsi commercial.
“Sure,” I say, sitting back with a smile. My little girl—well, not as little as I think she is—has on a teeny-tiny pink nightgown that makes her look more Baby Doll than baby. Even straight from bed, her skin is dewy and her big brown eyes are clear and bright. I’d need alpha hydroxy, two moisturizers, and Visine just to look half that good.
Jen grins and poses dramatically at the foot of the bed, arms flung out wide and hips bouncing from side to side as she starts to sing. It takes me a minute to register the tune. But then I get it, that Madonna song, “Like a Virgin.” Like a virgin? She’s eleven years old, for heaven’s sake. As far as I’m concerned, the only time she should use the “V” word is in an ode to the Virgin Mary. It makes me long for the days when she warbled that unbearable Barney song.
“Love your singing,” I venture, trying to be supportive. But I’ve got to know. “Where the heck did you learn that song?”
“They play it on the oldies station,” she says, jumping onto my bed.
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