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.