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When a professor she admires, Bernadette Lowell, offers her a chance to move to Amherst College in Massachusetts and be a part of an innovative new curriculum on learning, Joy jumps at the chance. She impetuously buys an old, large, falling down Victorian house and quickly moves up from her small New York apartment. I love the scene where she moves in and the house springs a giant leak.

Realizing that something needs to be done about the state of her house, Joy hires Teddy Hennessy to fix her house. Teddy is a unique individual that knows the history and design of old houses. He has an impeccable eye when it comes to interior design and works wonders with the house. Joy finds life changing for herself at Amherst and becomes involved with a great new group of friends.

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She has a growth of personal relationships and self. She learns that to be a feminist, one does not need to give up everything that is feminine. It is really hard to describe this novel as it was so unique and I do not want to give away the entire plot of the novel.

It was a great story and I really loved the style in which it was written. I also loved that since Joy is a literature professor she talks about a lot of my favorite authors such as Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. The discussions are like small diamonds throughout the text that I really enjoyed reading. Overall, The Season of Second Chances is a wonderful novel with a great story, fantastic characters, and great prose.

I highly recommend it. Sep 28, Sherri Rifkin rated it it was amazing. I absolutely adored this book. I finished it three days ago and the characters are still with me, as is the main character Joy's house and the people in her Amherst community who draw them into her lives and therefore out of herself. I gobbled it up in practically one sitting. This book has all my favorite elements: It was like going back to college in the best possible way.

I especially loved the non-Hollywood ending. I don't want to give anything away but suffice to say that the author stayed true to her characters until the very end and didn't overly romanticize or exaggerate their capacities. I almost wish I hadn't read it so quickly. I just may have to start it all over again I was pleasantly surprised by how substantial this book ended up being. I thought, based on the information I'd read about it, that it would be frothy and light, filled with romance and fun descriptions of an old house. I got the latter part right, but the former rather wrong.

Not that there wasn't romance of a sort in the book, but it wasn't frothy and it wasn't necessarily fun. I'm not sure I'd say I loved this book, and I'm not sure how readily I would recommend it, because I'm not sure who the audience for this book is. It's slightly less serious than is required for it to be literary fiction, and it's slightly too serious to be appealing to someone who loves chick lit. Jun 08, Carolyn Hill rated it really liked it. While I enjoyed this book and stayed up late to finish it, I'm inclined to give this 3.

Joy Harkness, the lead character, is a literature professor recruited from Columbia to Amherst College, and, through the people she meets in the new job and locale, goes through a profound personal change. In short, she awakens from the dull, emotionally void life of a solitary academic to an engaged participant in her own life and the life of her community. And it started with the house. She bought a While I enjoyed this book and stayed up late to finish it, I'm inclined to give this 3.

She bought a run-down Victorian and hired a highly qualified handyman to work on it. I'll admit that for me the old house fixer-upper element is what drew me to the book in the first place. I wish that Joy had had more of a personal stake in the house. She leaves most all of the decisions about it to the well-informed handyman, Teddy. In fact, Teddy is an odd amalgamation of a character: I found it a bit unbelievable that he would have been quite so up on all the decorating when he had no sense of fashion and dressed in old weird tee shirts, and not the cool kind.

He not only shopped at tag sales for the perfect accessories and old fabrics, but he had cushions made with contrast piping for the window seat. The descriptions of the decorating and remodeling were extensive and delightful, and sounded like they came from a woman who enjoys that kind of thing. That it was all the product of a handyman arrested in adolescence seemed to be stretching it to me.

On the other hand, I felt that the extensive description of Joy's academic subject and new educational method were more esoteric and slowed down the narrative, and I was surprised the author was not an academic herself. Joy seems incredibly naive for someone who had once been married, and she seems much older than late forties. And her friend and colleague Josie was too perfect as the outgoing motherly domestic goddess cum respected professor. She literally did have it all.

The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier

Further, the back story in the latter part of the book about Teddy's mother seemed to be the story of an Irish immigrant from the early twentieth century rather than mid-century. It sounded hollow and was a poor attempt to justify her bitterness and possessiveness. So, I had a lot of quibbles about the characters. While I enjoyed the story of Joy's transformation, the descriptions of houses, and the flashes of humor, all in all, it just did not ring true.

Mar 30, Gail Cooke rated it it was amazing. 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. I was finished with New York. Yet she rema Do you ever wonder how many go to New York City looking for success and excitement?

The Season of Second Chances

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. 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.

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. Apr 11, Patty rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is Diane Meirs debut novel, and it is excellent, and I am anxiously awaiting her next novel.

Joy Harkness has been a very successful professor at Columbia for 15 years, but she is ready for a change. She gets recruited for a unique position as part of a team at Amherst College, at a great salary. She put her apartment in NY up for sale and it sold almost immediately. Wait until you hear the bus, I thought, but I didn't say a word. I smiled when they talked about the light. I nodded when they mentioned the perfect proportions of the rooms. I knew it was crowded, dark, mean little apartment with a fireplace that didn't work and too few closets.

Joy heads to Amherst to find a place to live. The college refereed her to an agent, Donna Fortunata, a tiny, smart young lady in bright clothing. Joy wants a house in town where she can walk to the stores. She finally agrees to show her a house in need of a great deal of attention. It is a Victorian home. Through masses and tangles of what looked like a garden never tended, one could make out the wide shingled porch, all strangled in vines with feminine quatrefoil corbels and a screen door of Victorian detail so fine it looked like the lace of old French underwear.

Lest this sound too romantic, sections of the handiwork were missing, and the door was no longer on its hinges. Joy of course buys the home and there are plenty more references and details of her home and how she restores and renovates it. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about renovation of a historical home within a novel, but this recommendation goes far beyond her house restoration.

It is a change of life story about Joy and being around a vivacious group of new people at Amherst, a younger man, a possible marriage, and through all of these people she changes a great deal and sees her life in a brand new way. I would like to say she evolves, she becomes a better more fulfilled person with a larger life existence. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. Feb 19, Diane rated it really liked it. In NYC she had lovely "apartment with a great view", and a life that was comfortable, but she also had a past and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.

An opportunity presents itself for Joy to leave the big city behind, for a start up project at Amherst College in the quaint college town of Amherst, Massachusetts.


With her emotional baggage intact, she impulsively buys a huge, run down old Victorian home. This is not just a job of hauling heavy belongings; this task confronts memories too painful to life. She spent a lot of time alone and no one ever pressured her to do otherwise. In Amherst, her life is very different. She finds herself busier than ever living in a small town. As the other professors and people she meets press her to go out and get involved, she has a hard time saying no.

Her contractor Teddy, also plays an important role in Joy's transformation of sorts. As the home renovation progresses, and she actively gets involved in all the decorating details, Joy begins to see her new place as something more than just a house. It was one of those wonderful stories that drew me in from the very first page and held my interest along the way. It is a quaint college town where I've spent a lot of time, and many of the places mentioned are real, so that was a nice bonus. The story has likable characters, an appealing writing style, and it left me happy that I read this book.

If you are looking for a lighter, feel good read, give this book a try. The title is perfect too. Jun 21, Laura rated it it was ok. This is the story of Joy Harkness, a university professor who led an empty life—camouflaged by a successful career—and finally took the opportunity to change it and learned to live more fully.

The cover and the synopsis attracted me to this book; however, the opening chapters did not hook me. I debated if I wanted to continue reading it, and I stuck to my rule of reading the first fifty page This is the story of Joy Harkness, a university professor who led an empty life—camouflaged by a successful career—and finally took the opportunity to change it and learned to live more fully.

I debated if I wanted to continue reading it, and I stuck to my rule of reading the first fifty pages. As I continued reading, it suddenly got interesting and I finished it easily. I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the changes that took place in Joy, the way she took a chance doing things she never would have done before. The best part for me was seeing the transformation of the old run-down Victorian house she bought and how this represented the changes that were taking place within her and her life. I thought the minor character of Bernadette was given too much place in the story when I would have liked to see more regarding Donna and her family.

The children seemed to have adapted too well with almost no repercussions to witnessing their mother being bludgeoned to near-death by their father, and none of this was explored in the story. It seemed too unrealistic to me, almost as if it was concocted merely to advance the plot. I was also not impressed that Joy's friends encouraged her involvement with Will, a shallow man and obvious womanizer. They reminded me of two teenagers, but then again, seeing how they were both missing the mature emotional growth that comes during later adolescence perhaps this was a reflection of that. The writer in me tells me that there is much underlying in this book, but I was distracted throughout and could not relate to any of the characters.

I did like the ending, though, and it was perfect for this story. Nov 15, Mary Ronan Drew rated it liked it. An out-of-touch Columbia professor gets a new lease on life in Meier's unconvincing debut when she takes on a fixer-upper house and some equally messy relationships. Forty-eight-year-old Joy Harkness loves teaching, but hates the campus politics and her lonely Manhattan life. So when she's invited to be part of a new program at Amherst College, Joy jumps at the chance and buys a nearly condemnable Victorian with no clue Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about The Season of Second Chances: So when she's invited to be part of a new program at Amherst College, Joy jumps at the chance and buys a nearly condemnable Victorian with no clue of how much work will be involved in making the house livable.

Enter Teddy Hennessy, a younger handyman with a domineering mother. Inevitably, Joy and Teddy date, and Joy fixates on liberating him from his mother and on finding him more prestigious employment. Meanwhile, Joy's female friendships and their respective crises redefine who Joy is and what she values. Unfortunately, Meier focuses too much on surface matters and has a tough time making Joy come to life; her relationship with Teddy, meanwhile, carries uncomfortable maternal overtones.

There are too many cracks in the foundation on this one. This is an excellent synopsis but I don't think the book is as bad as the reviewer did. It's entertaining and there are some all too real people in the story. Feb 07, Barbara A. A very very enjoyable read! It is as smart as the average post feminist 'women's novel' yet is is a wonderfully commercial page-tuner. She is s cool custome A very very enjoyable read! She is s cool customer-kind of a closed circle-a bright accomplished woman with few deep relationships-- with men or women.

She plunges into life and finds it all deeply deeply uncomfortable yet wonderfully surprising. A love affair with her broken down Victorian rehab house, a sweeter love affair with her brilliant, diamond-in-the-rough and much younger contractor, learning how to be a friend and sustain the friendship of women--all combine for a pleasing and engaging work of 21st C post-feminist 'women's fiction. Feb 14, Les rated it liked it Shelves: I loved the descriptions of Joy's home and the details of the decor, as well as the meals prepared and yet, I have no passages marked to share , but I wanted to take her by the arms and shake some sense into her.

I couldn't understand her attraction to Teddy, a mama's boy with an over-domineering mother, nor her need to try to mold him into something he wasn't. At times, the scenes and the actions of the characters were so implausible, they came across like a paro Actual Rating: At times, the scenes and the actions of the characters were so implausible, they came across like a parody of a sappy southern novel. And yet, I couldn't stop reading, hoping for a happily-ever-after. Yes, the cover caught my eye, but had I first read the publisher's blurb, I doubt I would've have bothered reading the book.

And with a four month lapse between finishing the book and writing this review, I had no recollection of the plot until I read the publisher's blurb. Maybe for a weekend at the beach. May 29, Brian rated it really liked it. The back of the book did not do this book justice. This just proves that the description of the book does not indicate if you will like the author's writing style, or the actual plot itself. The plot is very simple: A woman moves from NYC to MA, buys an expensive house, meets an eccentric handyman with an overbearing mother, and tries to find meaning to her life.

What made this book so good was the author's writing style. The plot sounds like pure chick lit, but her writing style was deeper and The back of the book did not do this book justice. The plot sounds like pure chick lit, but her writing style was deeper and much more literary, making this a good read. I had never heard of this book, and when I found it as an ARC it's been out for almost a year , I was excited to get it, but not excited to read it. But I'm really glad that I did!


Mar 24, Georgiann Hennelly rated it really liked it. I n this novel, Joy Harkness is given the opportunity to start a new life. She buys a dilapidated old house,and befriends the handy man. She,d lived in New York city for years and gave it up for small town life. Little did she kow that small town life can have more drama than the big city.

This is a novel that made me think. At some point in our lifes we all are given the opportunity to chance some things in our lives. Some accept it and others have problems accepting it. Mar 25, Angela rated it really liked it Shelves: I won this book on Firstreads!! This is a really great book. I really enjoyed the perspective of the narrator, and really felt as if I got to know her and went through the changes in her life along with her.

This book is about "broadening your horizons", as my mom used to say to me when I was a kid.

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  6. I really loved this book. It took me awhile to warm to the protagonist until I realized I was taking her much more seriously than she was taking herself. This is a debut novel by an author I'll be following. Apr 30, Judy rated it really liked it. Lots of humor threaded throughout. Aug 14, Andi rated it really liked it. I definitely enjoyed this story, probably because I could relate - to the academic world, to the idea of "starting again" later in life, to the love of an old house.

    Eager to leave the spurious glamour of the New York lifestyle behind, she packs up her small cluttered apartment and purchases a once majestic Victorian house sorely in need of a major renovation.

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    Blandings Builds His Dream House , but close. Everyone insists that she contact local home restoration magician Teddy Hennessy. But it is simple, unassuming Teddy who makes the biggest impact on her life, transforming her house and her heart. In turn, she thinks that he needs a make-over and encourages him to return to college for his degree so he can teach like her.

    However, his sad past and his domineering mommy-dearest have a strong hold on him that Joy may not be able to fix with her academic acumen. Meier has crafted a story resplendent with memorable characters ready to make you laugh out loud and nod your head in recognition of the foibles and follies in us all.

    Joy is a literature professor who has formed her thinking, and her life around critical analysis of classics books. She treats people the same way. As we follow the narrative she throws in all sorts of literary and cultural references as antecedents peppering the plot with descriptors at the most important moments: I was happy to let them in on the secret. I feel a personal affinity to Joy Harkness, being a single woman of a certain age who is having her own season of second chances.

    I wrote to Ms. Meier and told her so. She kindly replied that she wrote the book just for me! Back to the literature vs. If Jane Austen is credited as being the grandmother of chick-lit and she is considered one of the finest writers EVAH — those good folks in book award land should take heed. The Season of Second Chances deserves its own second chance.

    Thanks for your enthusiastic review and recommendation, Laurel Ann ;. I enjoyed Season of Second Chances too — very well done. And the debate on chick-lit versus just lit is fascinating to me! Excellent review Laurel Ann! Thanks again for the review so we can make educated choices so to speak on what we may want to read. It sounded fascinating to me. I personally dont go by the genre of chick-lit or not.