Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sunday Salon - The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier

Sunday Salon is the perfect time to discuss a novel rich in color, academic life, change and possibilities. Diane Meier's debut novel, The Season of Second Chances is a thoughtful, hopeful book, with so much to offer. Book discussion groups should definitely consider this adult coming-of-age novel.

Joy Harkness was the kind of woman who moved from St. Louis for the excitement of New York City, but carried her dull life with her. After seventeen years at Columbia University, a profession of literature and a published author, she might look successful, but she's living a black-and-white existence. There's no spark, no color to her life. Her decision to become part of an experimental academic team at Amherst in Massachusetts is a major move for the forty-eight-year narrator of this story. And her impulsive purchase of a "mad, old Victorian heap of a house" is unlike any decision she's made in her life.

When everyone in her small circle of acquaintances at Amherst assures her she needs Teddy Hennessy to work on her house, she isn't expecting the man who shows up. At thirty-five, he's a man-boy, able to discuss literature, color, and every intricate detail of the house, while allowing his dominating mother to control his life. Joy sees a man trapped in the time period when he lost his brother, a man who stopped growing emotionally, but she doesn't see her own trapped life. Wise in the world of academia, she lacks the personal skills to understand her own sterile existence. Teddy and a group of formidable women will slowly peel back Joy's own layers. Early on, she realizes, "This warm cluster of women had invited me into a world that was alive and real." However, it takes Joy Harkness time to realize that she never really had close personal relationships. And, there's always the chance to change.

There's so much depth to Meier's debut novel. Joy needs an upgrade and lifestyle change as much as her house does. She's stuck in the rut of academia, thinking life has to be dull and staid. But, it takes a man, and those strong women, to show her that an intelligent woman can be strong, while also embracing color and family, love and home. The Season of Second Chances provides Joy Harkness with a second chance at life. She's a woman with untapped possibilities. Meier's book, her own background, and the story she tells of a woman's change mid-life, provide a wealth of material for enjoyment and discussion.

Diane Meier's website is www.dianemeier.com

The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier. Henry Holt and Company, ©2010. ISBN 9780805090819 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Diane Meier's publicist sent this review copy, hoping I would review it.

18 comments:

Book Dilettante said...

Love the cover and the description/review of tis book! Great women's fiction pick.
My Sunday Salon.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I enjoy books where there's a personal transformation--it sounds like fun seeing this woman change her life from something dull and boring to something rich and exciting!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Diane said...

I am reading this book now and loving it! Great review Lesa.

Mary said...

Lesa, I enjoyed this debut novel as well. I'd love to see what's going on in Joy's life 5 years later!

Bev Stephans said...

Great review Lesa! This looks like it's going to end up on my TBR pile. I don't need another book on the pile, but I don't think I'll be able to resist this one.

Lesa said...

Book Dilettante,

This was a terrific women's fiction pick. I hope you take a chance on it.

Lesa said...

Elizabeth,

I think you'd find this book very satisfying. I hope you check it out!

Lesa said...

Diane,

I'm glad you're loving this book, too! I couldn't put it down.

Lesa said...

Wouldn't you like to see her life five years later, Mary? Actually, I'd be interested in Joy's life even a year later. And, I want her to let those students into her life.

Lesa said...

Bev,

I know your TBR pile must look as bad as mine, but this is worth adding to it.

bermudaonion said...

I want to learn more about the group of formidable women! Thanks for another great review.

Lesa said...

Loved the woman who hired Joy for her new job at Amherst, Kathy. And, then there were terrific women in this books. You're welcome.

Les said...

I keep hearing great things about this novel. Moving it to the top of my TBR wishlist. Thanks, Lesa!

Lesa said...

Great, Les! I'm glad it moved up. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

Kay said...

I think this book sounds lovely. I've read several reviews of it and hope to read it soon. Thanks, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Kay. This book was very satisfying. It was one of those books you close with a sigh, wishing there was more about the character.

Ingrid King said...

This sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I love stories of transformation.

Lesa said...

I hope you get a chance to read it, Ingrid. I hope you like it.