Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Review: A Season for Second Chances

I was completely prepared to not like this novel by Diane Meier for two reasons: the title and the cover. Both are basically trite and fru-fru. I even had an attitude for the first 10 pages or so that I was not going to like this book.

And then I realized I was liking the book. It's a smart, witty book about an uptight, practically friendless college professor whose cold exterior slowly melts when she impulsively moves from Columbia University to Amherst College. The close-knit community there welcomes Joy in spite of her bristly nature, and little by little, she allows herself to actually see people as more than just students or specimens. I had to crack up when she mused upon how friendly people were at Amherst vs. in NYC. How would a character like Joy react down here in the South, where people are really, really friendly? (I'm still adjusting 25 years out of New York.)

Meier's writing is smooth and her characters are well-rounded and interesting. The cast of characters includes professors with children, a real-estate agent, a group of hovering bachelors known as "the Coyotes," and Teddy, the genius of a handyman who restores Joy's crumbling Victorian house. I was terribly envious of all the changes taking place in Joy's house. I'd love to have a handyman who not only paints but picks out the perfect fabric and covers lampshades. My own house felt shabby and crumbling as her house transformed into something amazing.

Meier did a great job of capturing various facets of Joy's character and how her friends forced her out of isolation in a variety of ways. I loved a scene where her boss takes her clothes shopping and when she has a make-over. These aren't frivolous, chick-lit kinds of scenes. Instead, Joy is forced to confront her inner snobbery, realizing that she never wore make-up or dressed fashionably because she considered herself above such things.

A different cover and a snappier title would have hooked me from the beginning, but I'm really glad I discarded my inner snobbery and read the book.

Other Reviews of A Season for Second Chances
Book Girl's Nightstand
The Review Broads
Feminist Review
She Is Too Fond of Books
Linus's Blanket
S. Krishna's Books
A Nut in a Nutshell
Lesa's Book Critiques

FTC Full Disclosure - Diane Meier's publicist sent this review copy. But I liked it anyway.

1 comment:

Booksnyc said...

I liked this one too - I will definitely look for more by this author. I understand she is writing another novel.