Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Julie's Review: The Season of Second Chances

Summary: Coming-of-age can happen at any age. Joy Harkness had built a university career and a safe life in New York, protected and insulated from the intrusions and involvements of other people. When offered a position at Amherst College, she impulsively leaves the city, and along with generations of material belongings, she packs her equally heavy emotional baggage. A tumbledown Victorian house proves an unlikely choice for a woman whose family heirlooms have been boxed away for years. Nevertheless, this white elephant becomes the home that changes Joy forever. As the restoration begins to take shape, so does her outlook on life, and the choices she makes over paint chips, wallpaper samples, and floorboards are reflected in her connection to the co-workers who become friends and friendships that deepen. A brilliant, quirky, town fixture of a handyman guides the renovation of the house and sparks Joy’s interest to encourage his personal and professional growth. Amid the half-wanted attention of the campus’s single, middle-aged men, known as “the Coyotes,”and the legitimate dramas of her close-knit community, Joy learns that the key to the affection of family and friends is being worthy of it, and most important, that second chances are waiting to be discovered within us all.

Review: There are times when I wish I had become an English Literature Professor. Then I read a book like The Season of Second Chances and realize that while I LOVE to read, I don't read many of the classics or classic authors. I think those are the books/authors you need to read in a class so you can have discussions, so you better understand all the underlying themes.

The Season of Second Chances is truly a book about women. Our community, our friendships, ourselves. The men in this book are truly second fiddles. It's about self discovery and learning that to be a better you, you have to learn how to take care of other people.

I really enjoyed this novel. I enjoyed the journey that Joy took me on. I loved meeting the people at Amherst as she met them, getting to know them as she got to know them, learning to love them as she learned. I felt like I was reading this book through Joy's eyes and that was wonderfully refreshing.

See Joy's not your standard 20 or 30 something Chick-lit heroine; She's almost 50. She's lived most of her life caring only for herself and living a pretty empty life in NYC. So when she gets to join Bernadette Lowell at Amherst University she jumps, wait, no leaps at the chance.

We experience Joy slowly begin to change. She slowly emerges from her shell and envelops the community that had accepted her long before she accepted them. She sees her way through short lived romances and maybe the hope of a more longer term relationship when the book ends.

There is a great cast of characters in this book. Including the Victorian home that she buys on impulse. We see the house transform as Joy transforms. I would love to see house transform like that but without the expense. I mean I can only imagine the cost to refurbish a Victorian home.

I loved Josie and Bernadette. Josie was a take charge kind of woman, pulling Joy out of her self involved life and making her realize that she was no longer in NYC where people keep to themselves. Here at Amherst people are involved in every one's lives. It's not just gossip but either, it is taking care of each other.

Even though I couldn't personally identify with Joy and her issues, I thought that the common themes of friendship, love, honesty and self-worth are things that any woman of any age group can relate to.

Also, there are some beautifully written passages in this book that are just so touching and significant that I could do a whole post on them.

The book did get off to a slow start but it picked up about 1/4 the way through. It can be a bit wordy at times but nothing that obviously put me off the book. If you are looking for a great read with strong characters that develop, then pick up The Season of Second Chances. I don't think you'll regret it.

As a side note: I love the cover of this book. I think it's beautiful and it fits the book to a tee. The pages are deckled edge, which gives the book even more character.

Final Take: 4.5/5


Mary April 14, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

Nice review. I really liked this book too. Not often is there a coming-of-age novel about a 48 year old woman. I was impressed that it's a debut novel. Love the cover too.

Kelly McDermott-Bay April 14, 2010 at 12:20 PM  

I just received this book in the mail a couple of days ago. I can't wait to read it.

linda April 14, 2010 at 12:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sweet ,  April 15, 2010 at 11:25 AM  

I have this on my list TBR and luckily my library has it. Looks like something I'd enjoy.

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