All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-05-12
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
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When Paul Miller's pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she's been waiting foruntil she learns that her husband is leaving her and has cut her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, 400 miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers' daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her irreverent postfeminist magazine,Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home, where her confused and lonesome teenage sister, Lizzie, is struggling with problems of her own: She's become the school slut. Holed up in their Georgian colonial bunker, the Miller women wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, and nasty social climbersand in the process all illusions and artifice fall away and they must reckon with something far scarier and more consequential: their true selves.

Author Biography

Janelle Brown is a freelance journalist who writes for the New York Times, Vogue, Wired, Elle, and Self, among other publications, and was formerly a senior writer for Salon. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.


Chapter One

June in santa rita is perfect, just perfect. the sun sits high in the sky--which is itself just the right shade of unpolluted powder blue--and the temperature averages a mild eighty-three. It isn't too hot to play tennis. Silk doesn't stick. The pool at the club is cool enough so that swimming is refreshing, and the summer fog that usually creeps in off the ocean is held at bay, its gray tentacles undulating right off the shore.

Janice Miller wakes up on the last Monday of the month to the sound of a song from her youth playing softly on the radio alarm clock. In the vast king bed, where the impression from her husband's body has already grown cold, the lyrics wash over her as she drifts up toward consciousness: "Imagine me and you, I do/I think about you day and night/It's only right/To think about the girl you love/And hold her tight/So happy together!" A frivolous little tune, one she hasn't heard in decades, and yet she can suddenly recall every word, even the cover of the album. The record had been a bribe from one of her mother's transient postdivorce boyfriends, and ten-year-old Janice had played the song over and over ad nauseam until the record finally disappeared during one of their moves. Thirty-nine years later, and Janice is once again hooked in by that uplifting refrain, the curious minor key: "So happy together!"

She yawns widely; she did not sleep well the night before. Paul crept out of bed at four in the morning in order to make it to the stock exchange before the starting bell, and although he tiptoed around silently in the dark--trying not to wake her, though she really wouldn't have minded if he had kissed her good-bye, not today--she had tossed and turned for the next few hours. Really, though, she was too giddy with anticipation to sleep well anyway. This song, dredged up from the dusty archives of her consciousness, feels like an appropriate soundtrack for the day. "I can see me lovin' nobody but you/For all my life!" The refrain matches her upbeat mood.

Glancing at the clock, Janice is jolted out of her reverie--it's seven forty-five, almost two hours since the stock market opened. She turns the radio to a news station, cutting off the last refrain of the song ("So happy tog--"), and climbs out of bed. She takes a shower, listening with one ear as she lingers under the two-way adjustable head, but hears nothing about Applied Pharmaceuticals. The morning news--a heat wave in the South, fifty-four dead in a suicide bombing in Israel, a congressman caught taking handouts from lobbyists--plays as she makes the bed, folding in hospital corners and placing the dozen or so pillows, shams, bolsters, and decorative blankets in their designated positions. There's still nothing by the time she's dressed in her tennis whites, and, itching with impatience, she finally goes downstairs to turn on the coffeepot. En route, she snaps on the television in the family room so she can watch CNBC through the kitchen door as she prepares an egg-white frittata with feta and roasted zucchini for her daughter Lizzie.

The frittata sizzles on the stove, the nutty aroma of browning butter warming the kitchen while Janice watches the set with one eye and waits (nearly jumping out of her skin, she can hardly stand it anymore) for the commentator to drop the name Applied Pharmaceuticals. Finally, at eight-thirty, the chesty redhead perched behind the anchor desk clears her throat and turns to the camera. "…And now, the stock market story of the morning, the meteoric ascent of Applied Pharmaceuticals, whose IPO shares are currently sitting at a hundred thirteen dollars and a quarter only two hours after opening bell."

Janice gasps in surprise. Below the commentator, the stock ticker crawls across the bottom of the screen and--there it is, APPI, and her heart palpitates again--she sees that yes, it's true: $113

Excerpted from All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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