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The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier
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The Season of Second Chances

by Diane Meier

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Betrayed wife moves to a new town and buys a dilapidated old house. Also, a handyman -- aren't you surprised? ( )
  picardyrose | Oct 27, 2011 |
Very enjoyable "chick lit" about a middle aged professor who leaves Columbia U. for Amherst, MA and is being reborn, along with the house she bought. Her new life consists of many people, problems, men, life. Her NYC life was very insular. Book about change, adaptation, love, understanding.
  bogopea | Oct 10, 2011 |
This book was more than I expected. From reading a synopsis, I expected it to be about one person's life changes. In the story, there are at least four characters who have second chances and each responds differently. The core story is about a college professor who moves from NY to MA to work on a cutting-edge project. Not only does that put her in a different environment, but that one change leads to many others. As the story unfolds, so does the main character's life. She builds relationships and creates a community. Some of the persons she knows (new friends and old) have second chances as well. While the story is told from Joy's POV, she is not the only one with a chance to change. The backdrop of the story is the dilapidated house she buys and its gradual rehab and emergence at the hands and vision of a brilliantly talented artist. This is a beautifully written and well-told story ( )
  Anansilaw | Sep 1, 2011 |
I don't know how to describe this novel: entertaining but unsatisfactory?? The main character, Joy Harkness (not terribly likable but that makes her more interesting,) is a university prof who is out of touch with everything but her own little corner in academe. As the title reveals, a season of second chances arrives for her and several of her friends when she reolocates to a college in New England and to a house realtors coyly describe as needing TLC. The necessary renovations are undertaken by Teddy, the town handyman who is, of course, single.....
Architecturally weak with anachronistic pop culture references that confused me: why would someone in their late 40s refer to scenes from the films Bringing Up Baby and Philadelphia Story? No one in their age group would understand the allusions (except for Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator/writer of Gilmore Girls). Likewise with the TV references from the late 60s and early 70s....

Ms Meier was well on her way to pulling off an intelligent and charming drama/comedy; if Joy Harkness had been 37 instead of 47, she would have achieved it. ( )
  julie10reads | Jun 12, 2011 |
Joy Harkness is a college professor working at Columbia in New York City. She lives in her own little bubble of academia and builds walls around herself so as not to be put out by friendships and personal obligations. And she is miserable. So when she gets the chance to “run from New York and Columbia, like a hound at the drop of a hare,” she takes it. She travels to the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts and goes to work for Bernadette Lowell, dean of graduate studies at Amherst College. Handpicked to be part of a team to develop a new curriculum, Joy at first sees the move as quick and easy. But, soon she finds the job of packing up her life and finding a new home to be a daunting affair.

Joy ends up buying a monstrous Victorian home that needs work at every turn. When the ceiling collapses from a water leak on the day she moves in, Joy realizes that she could use a little help. Enter Teddy Hennnessy, a self-made contractor and handyman with an eye for design. Teddy’s laid back attitude and brilliant understanding of exactly what Joy’s house needs to become a home, draw Joy in – and she soon discovers that beneath his gentle exterior is a man who is captive to his overbearing mother.

There are other wonderful characters in Diane Meier’s funny and sensitive novel The Season of Second Chances. Joy is befriended, in spite of herself, by a group of women who I adored. Josie, smart and in charge, is probably my favorite character. Married and with two children, she is a nonstop ball of energy with a heart of gold.

The Season of Second Chances is a novel about women’s friendships, the ups and downs of life, and the idea that one is never too old to change. Joy begins as a forty-eight year old hardline feminist, fiercely guarded, and negative…and evolves into a character I grew to love. She makes a lot of mistakes. She lacks insight into her own flaws. But, all these things make her very human, and someone who the reader wants to see succeed in her personal growth. When Joy discovers that friendship, although hard work at times, can be the balm to her sadness, the reader wants to congratulate her. And perhaps this is the heart of the story – that we do not go through this life alone. Despite our fears, despite the protective urge to keep ourselves from hurt, what really opens our worlds is allowing other people in. In The Season of Second Chances, it is the women’s friendships that sparkle.

Meier writes with humor, something I always appreciate in a novel. By the end of the second chapter, I found myself laughing and sharing passages with my husband. Sardonic and insightful, Meier’s prose resonates as real life. The characters in Meier’s novel are lovingly wrought – flaws and all. If you can’t tell by now, I loved this book. I blew through it in just a couple of days, and was sad to say good-bye to the characters I had grown to adore.

Readers who love women’s fiction and terrific characterization (not to mention humor), will enjoy The Season of Second Chances.

Highly recommended. ( )
  writestuff | Jun 4, 2011 |
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For Sara-Gwen and Frank
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It takes a keen eye to tell a false start from a dead end.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805090819, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After single college professor Joy Harkness takes a position at Amherst College, she begins to restore the old Victorian home she lives in, meets a friendly handyman and embraces the close-knit community, all of which gives her a new lease on life.

» see all 2 descriptions

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