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The Season of Second Chances: A Novel

The Season of Second Chances: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Diane Meier
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"The strong characters, believable situations, fine writing, and great storytelling make for a remarkably compelling book."--Booklist "Sure to be much-loved and often-shared, this graceful, funny novel nudges its characters and readers toward self renewal, change, and a chance for greater happiness. ... Diane Meier's liberating novel values both the arcane scholarship of college professors and the practical, artistic insights of handymen and real estate agents. Like "The Secret Life Of Bees", this brave, warm novel suggests that for a person who has the courage to seize a second chance, there's also the opportunity for a rewarding third chance, or fourth, of fifth..."--Sena Jeter Naslund, author of "Ahab's Wife "and" Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette""Diane Meier's novel has it all: a narrator with a voice as knowing, acerbic, and funny as the best of Ephron; a plot that keeps you avidly turning the pages, and a character about as tender, touching, and exasperating as any I can recall encountering outside of real life. I loved it."--John Colapinto, author of "About the Author""Sophisticated, original, erudite, and with observations that are simultaneously profound, precise, and surprisingly funny."--Sara Pritchard, author of "Crackpots" "As in an old house, you will encounter all manner of surprises on Joy's journey and I promise, they will keep you reading far too late in the evening to be sensible."--Katherine Lanpher, author of "Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move"

Product Description

A world of possibilities opens up for Joy Harkness when she sets out on a journey that’s going to show her the importance of friendship, love, and what makes a house a home

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 458 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; Reprint edition (1 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003DX0I0I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,076,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty coming of age at any age story! 12 Sep 2010
I recently finished THE SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES, by Diane Meier and liked it so much that I didn't want to write about it!

I do that sometimes after experiencing a great movie, opera, musical or book. When something touches me profoundly, I want it all to myself. Talking or writing about it somehow takes the shine off my new found treasure. And then there is that Bridget Jones insecurity tapping me on the shoulder telling me that my review could never give it due justice, or I would gush about it so much that people will think I am nuts. Well, more nuts.

So, I have been holding it in savoring my selfish indulgence until this week when I read Ms. Meier's poignant commentary on publishing, media and buyers perceptions of literature vs. chick-lit in the Huffington Post. I was miffed. Not only had her charming book received positive reviews from all sectors, it also garnered some not so complementary criticisms from those who wanted to classify it as chick-lit because its forty-something female protagonist renovates her home, and the cover has flowers on it. Flowers? Flowers now disqualify books from being literature and earmark them as chick-lit? Conversely, one reader review on Amazon hated it because it wasn't chick-lit! Go Figure! Like her sharp, funny and insightful book Diane had the perfect come-back to this dilemma.

"Okay, I wanted to respond, I'm sorry that you're disappointed, but it's like trying to blame a hot dog for not being ice cream."


"What I didn't see was that the chick-lit argument had landed squarely on my doorstep.

Was "The Season of Second Chances" Chick Lit or not? That, in itself, became the general theme of most reviews, professional and consumer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent look at middle age. 29 April 2010
I very much enjoyed this book and it's intelligent voice. There are so many great quotes pertaining to life and being middle aged that I wanted to write them down. I liked the main character Joy and found her believable and likeable as well. The pages flew by and I finished it much too quickly !!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, right from the first page 16 Feb 2010
By Avid Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had just finished a rather disappointing book and opened this one not knowing what to expect. I was happily surprised when I was instantly hooked from page one. The writing is so engaging. It's also clever and funny, a bit erudite at times (it is about a college professor of English!) and deals with the heroine's transformation from just going through the motions of life to becoming an active participant. The other characters are a nice assortment of quirkiness but don't let this make you think that the story is a light read - it's not, there are major issues dealt with here, one rather horrifying, but all showing us the growth that takes place in our heroine as she takes steps that engage her fully in life.
Joy Harkness (who is 48) takes a huge job leap from a Manhattan college (Columbia) to Amherst College in western Massachusetts. She joins a group of professors wanting to transform the method of teaching Shakespeare, but that's just a sideline in the story. The real story involves her getting involved, in buying and restoring a house, in socializing with her office mates, in learning to feel and relate. Her trials at this are both touching and hilarious. The other main character, Teddy, the handyman genius who is transforming her house has his own hard and crazy story. He dropped out of school to support his mother and Joy attempts to transform him are a major part of the story. Get ready for a major mother/son disfunction here.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The characters, from the secretarial temps to the bachelor professors who make a play for Joy are so well and humorously described. Hopefully this won't be the author's last book. I want to read much more.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars easy to read, easy to en"joy" 8 Mar 2010
By K. Cade - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book about a character named Joy was a real Joy to read through. She's a college professer who takes a big huge leap of faith to move out of the city (Manhatten) and into a somewhat ramshackle house in the country (Massachusetts). This novel is largely about the rennovations of that home but also about Joy's personal renovations, something that's a dead giveaway in the title of this novel. This is not chick lit, like I had feared, but rather a straightforward story of one woman starting over at age 48.

This novel is peppered throughout with funny characters that are well written and imagined by the author. And the main protagonist is likeable but more important than that, she's highly believable. I think if you've ever made a major life change you can relate to this and if you want to live vicariously through someone else's bravery about making life changes, this is the story for you. This author has an easy to read style of writing and I very much appreciated that. It's easy to get into this book and then thoroughly enjoy it along the way because of this. I know firsthand that second chances are real and this book just reitterates that reality so well.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Season of second Chances 30 Mar 2010
By BeachBrights - Published on
I actually did not want to review this book. I told them that I did not have time to read nor was I a good writer. They did not listen. I told them that I only review decorating books (with lots of pictures) and that my blog readers don't want to hear about fiction novels. They did not listen and sent me this book anyway. I am so glad that they did not listen to me and now you need to listen...

Have you ever read a book that at the end of each chapter you would count the pages of the next chapter just to see if you had time to keep reading? I just finished The Season of Second Chances and my world stopped for two days. For two days I did nothing but sneak a chapter here and sneak a chapter there. I was hooked and hooked hard!

The Season of Second Chances is a story about Joy Harkness a 48 year old literary professor who is asked to take a new job in a new town. Joy thinks nothing of moving and finds herself buying and restoring a rundown Victorian. In comes Teddy Hennessy, the town's handyman, to help Joy restore her new home. I was surprised at my feelings of trust toward Joy. When I realized that her vantage point could not always be trusted, I found myself mad at her and emotionally invested in her well-being. But more than these two characters, Diane Meier writes a story that is clever and funny. It is a story of personal growth, taking chances, finding your way in life and when tragedy strikes Joy and her new friends, this becomes a story about family.

My favorite quote from the book comes from Joy "But my vantage point was perhaps, too close to the shore to see that I had, at last, begun to swim toward my own life" (page 162).

My mind was like a movie, playing out each eloquently written sentence, scene by scene. Even now my mind still drifts to Joy and her life. I was left wanting more and will continue to follow Diane Meier.

I loved this book and so will you.

A special thank you to Evelyn Frison & Diane Meier for allowing me the opportunity to read this story from my mind and heart. This book was given to me by Evelyn Frison in exchange for my honest opinion.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There really are second chances! 6 Mar 2010
By Mary Ann - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This contemporary novel about a grown-up lady facing life-changing experiences never disappoints. It is believable, concise, witty, and erudite. I kept expecting it to become predictable, but it kept me guessing down to the last page with a totally acceptable surprise ending. The characters are well-developed. This is many cuts above chick-lit. Joy Harkness and her new friends, not to mention her ex-Coyotes, will bring a smile for a long time. Read it and share it!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Gail Cooke - Published on
Do you ever wonder how many go to New York City looking for success and excitement? Next query - how many find it? Joy Harkness did not. She had long nurtured a dream of going to Manhattan as "a way out of Saint Louis." Some 17 years later she tells us, "It takes a keen eye to tell a false start from a dead end. I was finished with New York."

To many Joy's life was enviable - she'd been at Columbia University for 12 years, received a full professorship and published a book of poetry. Yet she remained isolated with few friends or involvement in the greater community or, for that matter, in life. Joy doesn't hesitate when she's offered a teaching position at Amherst College and the opportunity to be a part of a group working toward changing teaching methods. She sells her apartment, packs her belongings, and goes.

Although determined to remain in her self-styled cocoon, removed from others, Joy is immediately embraced by her office mates, and urged (dragged might be a better word) to take part in social activities in which she has no interest.

What does Joy care about? A recently purchased aged Victorian home in much need of repair. That had been a spur of the moment buy and quite unlike anything she has ever done. And, she cares about Teddy, a handyman who turns her relic of a residence into a warm, inviting home.

Teddy is one of the most appealing characters to be found. A boy/man in gimme cap and shorts he is caught in a dysfunctional relationship with his mother (a thin lipped harridan), is a genius at renovation and repair, has an unerring eye for color and decor, an encyclopedic knowledge of historic homes, and an innocent, honest concern for others.

As Joy is unwillingly drawn into the happiness and travails of those around her she begins to learn how to relate, how to genuinely feel for others. This evolution is described with both insight and humor, whether she is fending off the advances of the Coyotes (male faculty members with an eye for someone new) or trying to care for four young girls who patiently teach her the importance of a pastry bag and how necessary it is to keep hair conditioner on hand.

THE SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES is an empowering, entertaining story reminding us of the importance of home, family, and trust. It is, at times, an invitation to step outside of our familiar boundaries and perhaps discover what we may yet become.

As Joy reaches her home after an especially busy day she looks at the windows "glowing from within,' and comments, "There was life in this house, and I was a part of it." We can rejoice with her, and learn.


- Gail Cooke
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If you have ever moved, you understand that people will stay in the most deplorable environments simply to avoid considering things that belonged to the people they no longer are. This is not just a job of hauling heavy belongings; this task confronts memories too painful to lift. &quote;
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You have to look in the mirror and like what you see, just as if you were looking at someone you loved. You have to learn to celebrate that person and bolster her and indulge her and encourage her—just as if she were your lover or your child. No more hiding. &quote;
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I think the trick is being open to change, while making the best of the chaos that change tracks into our lives—you know, like debris from a storm.” &quote;
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