Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eighteen: The Season of Second Chances - Diane Meier

All Joy Harkness ever wanted was to be a fashionable and part of New York's high society. After seeing an ad for Chemical Bank which featured a young woman walking purposely up Park Avenue commanding people's respect - Joy wanted to be that girl. In fact she opened an account with Chemical Bank the next day. She got a tenured professorship at Columbia University, a view of Hudson River and multiple published books - but none of it equalled a life in New York City that she dreamed of.

One summer when an avant-garde professor from Amherst College actively recruited her to move to the middle of nowwhere Massachusetts to build a quinque undergraduate program, Joy didn't think twice. She sold her apartment with the great view of the Hudson (only if you stuck your head out the window), packed up her belongings and bought a run-down Victorian house in the middle of town. The first night Joy stays in her house, the plumbing bursts and sewage is all over multiple floors of her house. The next day she makes an appointment with local handyman Teddy Hennessy to start making repairs on her "new" house.

When Joy starts her new job, she realizes that everything is going to be different at Amherst. Her office mate - Josie - is friendly and personable. Her assistant Fran is competent. And her colleagues are genuiuely glad to have her in their department. Life is totally different for her. She is settling into a routine and working with Teddy on her house. She goes out on dates with three "coyotes" - single professors on campus. She falls hard for Will - coyote #3 - so much so that they are engaged and about to get married. One night as Will and Joy are walking home - a student "attacks" Will and accuses him of being untrue to himself. At that moment Joy realizes that Will is gay and just trying to put together a "perfect" environment so that he could be the dean of the English department.

Joy recovers by jumping into a relationship with Teddy. But things are not what they seem. Teddy is very dependent on his mother and she relies on him for everything as well. Joy is warned that Teddy's mother has hijacked every relationship he's had. As Joy and Teddy's relationship grows, they are thrust into helping chauffer and entertain a friends' kids while their mother is in the hospital. In the end, Joy realizes that a relationship with Teddy will never work out. She ends things and just focuses on moving on and enjoying her time at the college.

This book was a quick read and it had an interesting point of view. I respected Diane not writing a happy ending. I would say that Diane's writing style is not like her husband's (Frank Delaney) - but the book was still enjoyable.

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