Title: The Season of Second Chances: A Novel
Author: Diane Meier
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Columbia University professor Joy Harkness is in her late forties and alone – but that’s the way she prefers it. She holds everyone, including her closest friends, at arm’s length, never letting anyone in. When Joy accepts a position at Amherst College, she leaves the safety and anonymity of New York City for Massachusetts. Little does she know that the tight-knit community at Amherst will challenge her in more ways than one.
I love books about professors, so I jumped at the chance to review Diane Meier’s The Season of Second Chances. Academia holds a certain charm and romance for me, and I find universities make wonderful settings for many different kinds of books.
The academic setting of Amherst College doesn’t disappoint in The Season of Second Chances. Meier does a wonderful job bringing the English Department to life in this book. The team was putting together an innovative and completely different curriculum for students centered on Shakespeare, and I found it fascinating to watch the developments unfold and see how these professors worked together. The classes sounded very interesting, and I must admit, I would have been very tempted to take them in college!
Joy was a complete snob. There’s no getting around that. However, that’s not to say she’s difficult to like or read about. She is very set in her ways, and a very private person. Additionally, living among intellectuals in such an academic environment for so long has made her disdain deriving pleasure from anything considered too pedestrian. It’s so interesting to watch her character develop and grow as she realizes how high and thick the walls she’s been built around her really are. Her character development was one of the most rewarding parts of The Season of Second Chances.
This book is also a dream for anyone interested in architecture. Joy works with Teddy, a local handyman with an amazing gift for restoring houses, on the rambling Victorian house she buys. Meier’s descriptions are exceptional, her details exquisite. I could see the house taking shape in my mind.
I really enjoyed The Season of Second Chances. There is a lot going on at once, as the secondary characters are also well fleshed out, but Meier never overwhelms the reader or confuses them with too much information. This is a solid women’s fiction novel that should appeal to fans of the genre.