Seven Year Switch

( 52 )

Overview

"[A] lively, warm-hearted look at changing courses mid-life."
--People

Just when she's finally figured out how to manage on her own, Jill Murray's ex-husband, Seth, is back--crashing into the man-free existence Jill and her ten-year-old daughter, Anastasia, have built so carefully. Jill's life just hasn't turned out quite the way she'd planned. By now, she'd hoped to be jetting around the world as a high-end cultural coach. Instead, she's answering phones for a local travel agency and teaching cooking classes at ...

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Overview

"[A] lively, warm-hearted look at changing courses mid-life."
--People

Just when she's finally figured out how to manage on her own, Jill Murray's ex-husband, Seth, is back--crashing into the man-free existence Jill and her ten-year-old daughter, Anastasia, have built so carefully. Jill's life just hasn't turned out quite the way she'd planned. By now, she'd hoped to be jetting around the world as a high-end cultural coach. Instead, she's answering phones for a local travel agency and teaching cooking classes at the community center. Enter free-spirited entrepreneur Billy who hires Jill as a consultant for an upcoming business trip. Suddenly, her no-boys-allowed life is anything but.

They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, but Jill isn't sure she's ready to make the leap. It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help her make a choice--not so much between the two men in her life, but between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be.

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Editorial Reviews

People
"[A] lively, warm-hearted look at changing courses mid- life."
Chickagoan.com
"The perfect mix of genuine experience with light-hearted humor."
Cecily Von Ziegesar
"Claire Cook's well-traveled protagonist is smart, truly hilarious, and entirely sympathetic. Like a hot bubble bath or a holiday at the beach, you won't want it to end."
Beth Hoffman
"With wit and tenderness, Claire Cook sweeps us into the life of Jill Murray, a feisty single mom trying to stitch together a future after being abandoned by her husband. This is a delightful story of love, loss, and the surprising events that healed her heart. I cheered for Jill the entire way."
New York Post
"Seven years ago, Claire Cook told us we 'Must Love Dogs.' But must we also love ex-husbands? ...Claire Cook takes a closer look at a complex situation."
Booklist
"Another endearing story of moving on and starting over . Cook tells this involving story of forgiveness and acceptance with heart, charm, and characters you can't help but root for."
People Magazine
"Bestseller Cook charms again with this lively warm-hearted look at changing courses mid-life."
Bookfinds.com
"Seven Year Switch is destined to be one of the hottest and most inspiring summer reads."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Here's an honest-to-goodness frothy romance."
Allie Larkin
"Smart, funny and full of heart--it's the perfect summer read!"
On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever
"This is pop fiction with the fizz of female empowerment."
The North County Times
"If you have a penchant for woman's literature in favor of real women with brains, substance, and sense of humor well intact, functioning in the real world with all its prickly realities, Seven Year Switch is thoroughly satisfying."
Redbook
"A lot of fun to read? Definitely!"
Allison Winn Scotch
"A perfect beach read. Claire Cook once again demonstrates that she's a master in creating funny, warm, relatable characters you root for from the very first page."
New York Times
"[A] beach chair worthy read."
USA Today
"[A] hot summer beach book."
The Patriot Ledger
"Cook clearly owns the beach scene."
Jennifer Vido
"As sure as the summer breezes will descend upon the shores, Claire Cook delivers yet another charming and delightful story that will capture her readers' hearts. Funny, engaging, and downright delectable, SEVEN YEAR SWITCH is this summer's must-read."
Publishers Weekly
Roll out your beach blanket for this sweet summer read about making mistakes and moving on. Struggling and sassy single mom Jill—left to raise three-year-old Anastasia when husband Seth runs away to join the Peace Corp—is just about over the devastating loss when Seth reappears seven years later ready to pick up where they left off. Jill wrestles with her still-raw anger and her precocious daughter's heart-breaking need for her daddy back in her life. “Honey, if you don't forgive him, it'll eat you alive,” counsels Jill's boss and best friend, Joni. For his part, “It wasn't the life we planned,” Seth explains. But Anastasia helps him remember it's the life he needs while Jill discovers letting go teaches you how to hold onto new possibilities. Cook (Must Love Dogs) creates an impossible-not-to-love cast of imperfect, funny, wistful, and wise characters. (June)
From the Publisher
"Cook creates an impossible-not-to-love cast of imperfect, funny, wistful, and wise characters." —-Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Another female-empowering, feel-good novel from Cook, who in this seventh outing (The Wildwater Walking Club, 2009, etc.) cautions against the return of the bad husband. Jill gets by, but just barely. Seven years ago, her husband Seth left for Africa and the Peace Corps with little more than a goodbye note, leaving Jill and their three-year-old daughter Anastasia destitute. Slowly Jill has built a modest life for herself-she owns a house (luckily the questionable neighborhood has become safely gentrified) and has a few jobs that pay the bills: offering weekly lessons in international cuisine at the community center; as a call operator at Great Girlfriend Getaways; and the occasional consulting gig in international relations. Jill is smart, but working herself up from the nothing that Seth left her with has taken its toll. Just as the present is beginning to seem pretty good, Seth returns. After seven years without a call or letter, let alone child support, Seth is hoping Jill and Anastasia will forgive him. Anastasia is thrilled to have a daddy and the gifts are great; Jill is seething. Everything becomes quickly complicated: Seth and Anastasia are developing a wonderful relationship; Seth wants to return to their marriage; then Jill and Seth sleep together, and, really, it wasn't so bad. Jill wonders if she shouldn't just forgive Seth and allow the three of them to move on. But then there's Billy, a client of Jill's who is smart and funny and grown up in ways Seth never was. What's a gal to do? Go to Costa Rica on a Girlfriend Getaway and hope a little yoga, belly dancing and girl time will sort it all out. Cook hits her marks-exploring the role of single women as they try to navigate work and family-all with good-natured humor and a little examination of what it means to be independent (it's not all fun). Hardly groundbreaking, but a beach tote couldn't ask for more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401341640
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 412,805
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire Cook
Claire Cook is the best-selling author of the novels The Wildwater Walking Club, Summer Blowout, Life's a Beach, Must Love Dogs, Ready to Fall, and Multiple Choice. Formerly a teacher of physical fitness and creative writing, she has also had stints as a copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, dance and aerobics choreographer. She lives in Scituate, Massachusetts, often called the Irish Riviera, with her family.

Biography

Raised on Nancy Drew mysteries, Claire Cook has wanted to write ever since she was a little girl. She majored in theater and creative writing at Syracuse University and immersed herself in a number of artistic endeavors (copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, and dance and aerobics choreographer), yet somehow her dreams got pushed to the side for more real-life matters -- like marriage, motherhood, and a teaching career. Decades passed, then one day she found herself parked in her minivan at 5 AM, waiting for her daughter to finish swim practice. She was struck with a now-or-never impulse and began writing on the spot. By the end of the season, she had a first draft. Her first novel, Ready to Fall, was published in 2000, when Cook was 45.

Since then, this "late starter" has more than made up for lost time. She struck gold with her second book, Must Love Dogs. Published in 2002, this story of a middle-aged divorcee whose singles ad produces hilariously unexpected results was declared "funny and pitch-perfect" by the Chicago Tribune and "a hoot" by the Boston Globe. (The novel got a second life in 2005 with the release of the feature film starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.) Cook's subsequent novels, with their wry, witty take on the lives of middle-aged women, have become bestsellers and book club favorites.

Upbeat, gregarious, and grateful for her success, Cook is an inspiration for aspiring writers and women in midlife transition. She tours indefatigably for her novels and genuinely enjoys speaking with fans. She also conducts frequent writing workshops, where she dispenses advice and encouragement in equal measure. "I'm extraordinarily lucky to spend my time doing what I love," she has said on countless occasions. " The workshops are a way to say thank you and open doors that I stumbled through to make it easier for writers coming up behind me.''

Good To Know

In our interview, Cook shared some fun and fascinating anecdotes with us:

"I first knew I was a writer when I was three. My mother entered me in a contest to name the Fizzies whale, and I won in my age group. It's quite possible that mine was the only entry in my age group since "Cutie Fizz" was enough to win my family a six-month supply of Fizzies tablets (root beer was the best flavor) and half a dozen turquoise plastic mugs with removable handles. At six I had my first story on the "Little People's Page" in the Sunday paper (about Hot Dog, the family Dachshund) and at sixteen, I had my first front page feature in the local weekly."

"In the acknowledgments of Multiple Choice I say that even though it's probably undignified to admit it, I'm having a blast as a novelist. To clarify that, having a blast as a novelist does not necessarily mean having a blast with the actual writing. The people part -- meeting readers and booksellers and librarians and the media -- is very social and I'm having lots of fun with that. The writing part is great, too, once you get past the procrastination, the self-doubt, and the feelings of utter despair. It's all of the stuff surrounding the writing that's hard; once you find your zone, your place of flow, or whatever it is we're currently calling it, and lose yourself in the writing, it really is quite wonderful. I've heard writers say it's better than sex, though I'm not sure I'd go that far."

"I love books that don't wrap everything up too neatly at the end, and I think it's a big compliment to hear that a reader is left wanting more. After each novel, I hear from many readers asking for a sequel -- they say they just have to find out what will happen to these people next. I think it's wonderful that the characters have come to life for them. But, for now, I think I'll grow more as a writer by trying to create another group of quirky characters. Maybe a few books down the road, I'll feel ready to return to some of them -- who knows?"

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    1. Hometown:
      Scituate, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 14, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Alexandria, Virginia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Film and Creative Writing, Syracuse University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Seven Year Switch


By Claire Cook

Hyperion

Copyright © 2010 Claire Cook
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-4116-9


Chapter One

I SAILED INTO THE COMMUNITY CENTER JUST IN TIME TO take my Lunch Around the World class to China. I hated to be late, but my daughter, Anastasia, had forgotten part of her school project.

"Oh, honey," I'd said when she called from the school office. "Can't it wait till tomorrow? I'm just leaving for work." I tried not to wallow in it, but sometimes the logistics of being a single mom were pretty exhausting.

"Mom," she whispered, "it's a diorama of a cow's habitat, and I forgot the cow."

I remembered seeing the small plastic cow grazing next to Anastasia's cereal bowl at breakfast, but how it had meandered into the dishwasher was anyone's guess. I gave it a quick rinse under the faucet and let it air-dry on the ride to school. From there I hightailed it to the community center.

Though it wasn't the most challenging part of my work week, this Monday noon-to-two-o'clock class got me home before my daughter, which in the dictionary of my life made it the best kind of gig. Sometimes I even had time for a cup of tea before her school bus came rolling down the street. Who knew a cup of tea could be the most decadent part of your day.

I plopped my supplies on the kitchen counter and jumped right in. "In Chinese cooking, it's important to balance colors as well as contrasts in tastes and textures."

"Take a deep breath, honey," one of my favorite students said. Her name was Ethel, and she had bright orange lips and I Love Lucy hair. "We're not going anywhere."

A man with white hair and matching eyebrows started singing "On a Slow Boat to China." A couple of the women giggled. I took that deep breath.

"Yum cha is one of the best ways to experience this," I continued. "Literally, yum cha means 'drinking tea,' but it actually encompasses both the tea drinking and the eating of dim sum, a wide range of light dishes served in small portions."

"Yum-yum," a man named Tom said. His thick glasses were smudged with fingerprints, and he was wearing a T-shirt that said TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR A DIFFERENT SHIRT.

"Let's hope," I said. "In any case, dim sum has many translations: 'small eats,' of course, but also 'heart's delight,' 'to touch your heart,' and even 'small piece of heart.' I've often wondered if Janis Joplin decided to sing the song she made famous after a dim sum experience."

Last night when I was planning my lesson, this had seemed like a brilliant and totally original cross-cultural connection, but everybody just nodded politely.

We made dumplings and pot stickers and mini spring rolls, and then we moved on to fortune cookies. Custard tarts or even mango pudding would have been more culturally accurate, but fortune cookies were always a crowd-pleaser. I explained that the crispy, sage-laced cookies had actually been invented in San Francisco, and tried to justify my choice by adding that the original inspiration for fortune cookies possibly dated back to the thirteenth century, when Chinese soldiers slipped rice paper messages into mooncakes to help coordinate their defense against Mongolian invaders.

Last night Anastasia had helped me cut small strips of white paper to write the fortunes on. And because the cookies had to be wrapped around the paper as soon as they came out of the oven, while they were still pliable, I'd bought packages of white cotton gloves at CVS and handed out one to each person. The single gloves kept the students' hands from burning and were less awkward than using pot holders.

They also made the class look like aging Michael Jackson impersonators. A couple of the women started to sing "Beat It" while they stirred the batter, and then everybody else joined in. There wasn't a decent singer in the group, but some of them could still remember how to moonwalk.

After we finished packing up some to take home, we'd each placed one of our cookies in a big bamboo salad bowl. There'd been more giggling as we passed the bowl around the long, wobbly wooden table and took turns choosing a cookie and reading the fortune, written by an anonymous classmate, out loud.

"'The time is right to make new friends.'"

"'A great adventure is in your near future.'"

"'A tall dark-haired man will come into your life.'"

"'You will step on the soil of many countries, so don't forget to pack clean socks.'"

"'The one you love is closer than you think,'" Ethel read. Her black velour sweat suit was dusted with flour.

"Oo-ooh," the two friends taking the class with her said. One of them elbowed her.

The fortune cookies were a hit. So what if my students seemed more interested in the food than in its cultural origins. I wondered if they'd still have signed up if I'd shortened the name of the class from Lunch Around the World to just plain Lunch. My class had been growing all session, and not a single person had asked for a refund. In this economy, everybody was cutting everything, and even community center classes weren't immune. The best way to stay off the chopping block was to keep your classes full and your students happy.

I reached over and picked up the final fortune cookie, then looked at my watch. "Oops," I said. "Looks like we're out of time." I stood and smiled at the group. "Okay, everybody, that's it for today." I nodded at the take-out cartons I'd talked the guy at the Imperial Dragon into donating to the cause. "Don't forget your cookies, and remember, next week we'll be lunching in Mexico." I took care to pronounce it Mehico.

"Tacos?" T-shirt Tom asked.

"You'll have to wait and see-eee," I said, mostly because I hadn't begun to think about next week. Surviving this one was enough of a challenge.

"Not even a hint?" a woman named Donna said.

I shook my head and smiled some more.

They took their time saying thanks and see you next week as they grabbed their take-out boxes by the metal handles and headed out the door. A few even offered to help me pack up, but I said I was all set. It was faster to do it myself.

As I gave the counters a final scrub, I reviewed the day's class in my head. Overall, I thought it had gone well, but I still didn't understand why the Janis Joplin reference had fallen flat.

I put the sponge down, picked up a wooden spoon, and got ready to belt out "Piece of My Heart."

When I opened my mouth, a chill danced the full length of my spine. I looked up. A man was standing just outside the doorway. He had dark, wavy hair cascading almost to his shoulders and pale, freckled skin. He was tall and a little too thin. His long fingers gripped the doorframe, as if a strong wind might blow him back down the hallway.

He was wearing faded jeans and the deep green embroidered Guatemalan shirt I'd given my husband just before he abandoned us seven years ago.

No. Way.

I'd dreamed this scene a thousand times, played it out hundreds of different ways.

I'd kissed him and killed him over and over and over again, violently and passionately, and at every emotional stop in between.

"Jill?" he said.

My mouth didn't seem to be working. That's my name, don't wear it out popped into my head randomly, as if to prove my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders either.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" he said.

My heart leaped into action and my hands began to shake, but other than that, I couldn't feel a thing. I remembered reading that in a fight-or-flight reaction, deep thought shuts down and more primitive responses take over.

I picked up the bowl. I gulped down some air. I measured the distance between us. I tried to imagine my feet propelling me past him-out of the building, into my car, safely back home. Flight was winning by a landslide.

"No," I said. "Actually, you can't."

He followed me out to my car, keeping a safe distance. I clicked the lock and balanced the bowl on my left hip while I opened the door of my battered old Toyota.

"How is she?" he asked. "How's Asia?"

"Her name is Anastasia," I said.

But the damage had been done. In one nickname, four letters, he'd brought it all back. We'd spent much of my pregnancy tracing our family trees online, looking for the perfect name for our daughter-to-be. In a sea of Sarahs and Claras and Helens, Anastasia jumped right out, a long-forgotten relative on Seth's side of the family. Since we didn't have any details, we made up our own. Our daughter would be Anastasia, the lost princess of Russia. Sometimes she'd have escaped the revolution only to be frozen to wait for the perfect parents to be born. Other times she came to us via simple reincarnation. We'd curled up on our shabby couch in front of our hand-me-down TV and watched the animated Anastasia over and over again, until we could do most of the voice-overs right along with Meg Ryan and John Cusack.

When she was born, Anastasia brought her own twist to the story. From a combined ethnic pool swimming with ancestors from Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, and Portugal, she'd somehow inherited the most amazing silky straight dark hair and exotic almond-shaped eyes. We nicknamed her Asia, a continent we loved, the place we'd met.

I closed my eyes. "She's ten," I said. "She's fine. I'm fine. Leave us alone, Seth. Just leave us the fuck alone."

By the time I opened my eyes, he was already walking away.

It wasn't until I went to put my hands on the steering wheel that I realized I was still holding my fortune cookie. It had shattered into pieces, and the thin strip of paper inside had morphed into a crumb-and-sweat-covered ball. I peeled it off my palm.

Something you lost will soon show up.

"Thanks for the warning," I said.

Chapter Two

"GREAT GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS," I SAID INTO MY HEADPHONE as Anastasia reached for another pot sticker with her chopsticks. "Feisty and fabulous man-free escapes both close to home and all over the world. When was the last time you got together with your girlfriends?"

"Hello?" a female voice said into my ear. "Is this a real person?"

That was probably a question to be pondered, but I gave her the short answer. "Yes," I said. "This is Jill, one of GGG's cultural consultants, available twenty-four/seven to help you plan the girlfriend getaway of your dreams. How can I help you?"

"Okay, well, my friends and I are thinking about your trip to the Dominican, but somebody I work with said she went to an all-inclusive there and saw an actual rat in her room, and I don't do rats. Can you guarantee me a rat-free room? In writing?"

I wasn't sure I could guarantee her a rat-free room in New York, but why get into it. Anastasia picked up her plate and started sliding her chair back. I narrowed my eyes and gave her a mom glare.

"Well," I said, "if you want to keep the pests at bay, we've also got a trip to Italy coming up. It includes one full day on Beach 134, aka the Pink Beach, the official no-men-allowed beach on the Adriatic coast."

I waited for a laugh. Nothing. Anastasia was tiptoeing across the kitchen. I stamped my foot. She kept walking.

"The signs alone will make your photo album," I said. "They've got this one huge sign with an Italian version of the Marlboro man in an old-fashioned bathing suit getting ready to hit on somebody, and he's got a great big diagonal line drawn through him."

Of course, I'd never actually seen this sign, but I'd added the photo to our brochure and also uploaded it to the Web site.

"I don't know," the woman said. "I bet the guys still pinch you as soon as you get off the beach. And doesn't Italy have rats, too?"

I pinched off a little piece of pork dumpling and popped it into my mouth.

I covered the phone and swallowed quickly. "Orlando's nice this time of year," I finally said.

"I don't know. We really wanted to absorb another culture."

I rolled my eyes and reached for another pinch of pork. "You can always go to Epcot."

"Good point. Okay, so do you recommend the Epcot-only International Pajama Party or the Careening-thru-Kissimmee Multi-Theme Park Girlfriend Adventure?"

In so many ways, this job had saved my life, and I knew how lucky I was to have it. Joni Robertson, Great Girlfriend Getaways' owner, paid me enough of a salary to almost make ends meet, as well as about half of Anastasia's and my health insurance. She'd also given me a computer to replace my dinosaur when she upgraded her office equipment, and even paid half my cell phone bill so I had somewhere to forward the GGG calls. But the best thing was that she let me do most of my work from home and gave me enough flexibility to pick up jobs on the side.

I couldn't have made it without Joni. If I were in charge of the world, I'd get rid of all the Oscars and the Grammys and just give awards to women who helped other women.

Sure, I'd imagined that by this point in my life, I'd be a little further along in my career as a cultural consultant. A dual major in international government and sociocultural anthropology, I'd envisioned myself as a pioneer in the emerging field of cross-cultural coaching. After getting my feet wet in the corporate world, where I'd be brilliantly successful at training executives to become more effective global communicators, I'd build my own international consulting business. I pictured myself jetting around, preparing foreign service families before they headed off to their posts, helping to greenwash small countries trying to step up their ecotourism trade, counseling rising politicians who thought they could see Russia from their backyards.

And then life got in the way.

Here's the thing that really pisses me off when I listen to those women on TV with their big salaries, or their trust funds, or their great family support. They're up on their high horses in their rarefied worlds telling the rest of us women we shouldn't jump off the career track or we'll never get back on. We should just follow our dreams, go after what we want, come hell or high water.

But what if scrambling to pay the bills takes every minute of your day, every ounce of your creativity? What if you can't afford an au pair? What if you can't even afford an ordinary babysitter? And even if you could, which you can't, what if your three-year-old is so afraid that you're going to leave her, too, that she spends most of an entire year holding on to your leg, and somedays, just to do the vacuuming, you have to drag her around the room with you?

Eventually I got Rat Girl off the phone. I popped the rest of the dumpling into my mouth, took half a second to appreciate the warm burst of ginger and green onion, and pushed back my own chair.

I poked my head into the living room. "You've got until three to turn that TV off and get back to the dinner table."

Anastasia ignored me.

"One," I said.

She ignored me some more.

"Two," I said.

"Morn," she said. "It's almost over."

"Anabanana ...," I said.

She jumped up. "Don't call me that. It's a baby name."

My daughter, all elbows and knees in purple leggings and a long striped T-shirt dress, flounced past me with her empty plate. She adjusted her shiny pink headband with one hand as she came in for a landing at the kitchen table. I tried hard to give her the firm, consistent limits all kids need, but the truth was I loved her little acts of rebellion. I read them as signs of progress, evidence that she had not only survived, but was finally starting to thrive. She had friends at school. Her grades were good. She loved to read.

The last thing either of us needed was for Seth to come back into our lives and screw them all up again.

* * *

MY PHONE SHIFT TONIGHT was four to midnight. After Anastasia was in bed, I made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea so I could stay awake. Some nights the phone rang like crazy, and I'd talk nonstop about group rates and trip insurance and the relative merits of Provence versus Paris while I washed dishes or folded the laundry. I'd gotten so used to going about my business while I talked into my headphone that once I even flushed the toilet while I was talking to some woman about our Galapagos Islands cruise.

"What was that?" she'd asked.

"Just a waterfall," I'd replied. "The Iguazu? On the Brazil-Argentina border?"

"Ooh," she said. "Can you send me some info on that trip, too?"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook Copyright © 2010 by Claire Cook. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    SEVEN YEAR SWITCH, by Claire Cook,

    Jill Murray, a single mom with a 10-year-old daughter named Anastasia, does her best to keep her head above water. Having been abandoned by her husband seven years ago, she has survived without child support or assistance from loved ones. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, her home is filled with laughter and love. This is the tale of Jill's personal journey towards inner strength and independence told with humor, poignancy, and great insight. A wonderful reinvention of oneself book! Other good ones: THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, TIME OF MY LIFE, ICE COLD

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Cook Switches on another Winner with SEVEN YEAR SWITCH

    Claire Cook never fails to come through. Since my first book review, which was for Claire's book SUMMER BLOWOUT, she has never let me down when I pick up a new book of hers to read. She has a way of making even the toughest things in life bearable and her talented writing draws readers in through her marvelous stories, clever dialogue, and her captivating characters. In SEVEN YEAR SWITCH, readers meet Jill Murray who is one of those characters I just mentioned who captured my interest right off and had me rooting for her all the way. I found Jill to be a witty, bright, compelling and caring mother and an independent woman who didn't deserve the agony she felt when suddenly her ex-husband pops back into her and her daughter Anastasia's lives. Although Anastasia is delighted to have her father there, Jill is dubious of his motives and commitment.

    The idea from the title that every seven years our body's skin rejuvenates thus making us into a "new" person, goes right along with the book's concept of personal change and growth being a positive thing in our lives. Cook surrounds Jill with intriguing characters that move the story along and fit into that principal premise of the book that was based on transformation and progression. With Jill's neighbor, Cynthia, being almost the opposite of Jill in most ways, she provided a strong character for Jill to play off of. She was entertaining and feisty, and quite a welcome addition in the story.

    Of course, there was suddenly these men surrounding Jill, quite a change from the start of the story.a feast or famine situation. Besides her ex, Seth, there is the caring and amusing Billy who is a client of Jill's and who is hard to resist. How Jill handles all of this is to take off on her own for a gal pal trip to Costa Rica and hope to find what she is looking for there.or at least some peace for her to be able to think and relax.

    How Jill deals with everything and everyone is trademark Claire Cook as she takes a serious subject and deals with it gently, with warmth and fun, and creates an answer that educates, amuses, and involves the reader. The story of SEVEN YEAR SWITCH will entertain you while it also will endear itself to you as well. If like me, you start the book early enough, you will at least get a good night's sleep as I read it in one sitting and was happy I hadn't started it late in the day because I couldn't put it down. Another delightful gift, and perfect for the summer read, but wouldn't be bad by a cozy fire in winter as well, is SEVEN YEAR SWITCH from a favorite author, Claire Cook!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Can't wait to read it again!

    SEVEN YEAR SWITCH is instantly absorbing, absolutely endearing, and has characters who feel like real people. Jill is smart, kind, creative, and has a dry sense of humor. I absolutely loved her. The conversations between Jill and her neighbor had me laughing out loud, and I identified with her moments of insecurity and doubt. I love the way Jill works to do what's best for Anastasia, even when it's hard for her, and I love the way she's honest about her struggles. Because Jill has such a strong interest in other cultures, there are fun facts scattered throughout, and the multi-cultural cooking class she teaches provides for some rich scenes with colorful characters. Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down, and the characters have really stuck with me. It was the perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon. SEVEN YEAR SWITCH is one of the rare books I plan to read again.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Has this author lost her mind?? I would never pay $18.99 for an

    Has this author lost her mind?? I would never pay $18.99 for an e-book. Especially, since she wants the same amount for her hardback book. Claire Cook is off my e-list.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Love Claire Cook!!

    I have read all of Claire's books. Each one just sucks you right in to the story and the character's lives to where you cant put the book down! I have this problem everytime I start her books. I say I'm going to take my time with it and POOF its all over! Then I have to wait for the next one to come out.

    Her style of writing makes it easy to relate to the characters and what they are going through. Real life stories for real life people. And Claire is very invovled with her readers. I dont know of another author that really makes such an effort at this. She has made a very special moment of my life a memorable one with a signed copy of "The Wildwater Walking Club" given to me on my 5 yr. anniversary.

    Take the time to read all of her books! You will be glad you did!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    Seven Year Switch Is A Winner

    As a journalist I'm lucky to get advance copies of books, and always look forward to getting Claire Cook's newest tome.

    I receive and read a lot of books, but I have to say "Seven Year Switch" was one of the few of late I hadn't been able to wait to get to every night when I crawled into bed.

    I have very much enjoyed all of Cook's books, but there was a level of depth and realism in this story of single mom, Jill, that pulled me in from page one. Of course there was the humor Cook is known for, but Jill's life isn't easy, and we get to experience the tough choices she has to make right along with her.

    Claire Cook has the talent to move a reader while also making them laugh. Folks who already fans of Cook's will love it, and I think this one may herald in lots of new readers as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Great book

    I really enjoyed this book. My only disappointment was the abrupt ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    CHARMING, WARM, FUNNY!

    Seven Year Switch is a warm, touching, funny and charming story, a ride through the imperfections of life on the way to find out what true love is. A fun easy read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2010

    Loved this book!

    What a great book! a summer must read for all woman. An escape, a love story, adventure, laughs, smiles and some truisms. I read this in two nights, could have been one if i was not on vacation with girlfriends. I will definitely read more of ms. cook's books.
    I would recommend this novel to book clubs also. I especially like the last page of seven rules. Would like to pass them on to my children who are going away to school. Great rules to live by for all.
    I have seen Must Love Dogs as a movie and did not realize that it was written by ms. cook.
    thanks again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    Warm and Witty

    Jill Murray has to figure out how to raise her daughter, Anastasia, alone when her husband deserts them. She awkwardly stumbles through life, though to some degree she is successful in creating a life for herself and her daughter. When her ex-husband suddenly reappears seven years later, she has to make adjustments to the life she had built. Jill had finally met a handsome, charismatic man who she can imagine developing feeling for. What will she do now that her ex has made an untimely and uninvited homecoming?
    Claire Cook has produced another fun novel. As in her other books, Claire creates characters who are flawed and easy to relate to; like real people! Full of wit and humor, Seven Year Switch is a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2010

    Claire Cook doesn't disappoint

    I have read all Claire Cook's books and have loved them all. Seven Year Switch did not disappoint, it was fast moving - I read it in just a day. I always love the characters in her books and once again loved the characters in this book. Claire always adds humor and you always finish the book learning something about yourself. The way Jill changed over the course of the book makes you take a look at your own life. It showed the relationship between Jill and her daughter, Anastasia. Her husband left them to join the peace corps and comes back 7 years later. It shows how Jill coped with him coming back into their lives, and then there is Billy... I loved the book from start to finish and loved the way the book ended. If you have never read a Claire Cook Book, you are missing out. I wait each summer for the next book to come out. Buy the book, you won't be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A serious topic with a light touch, take this one to the beach!

    Jill Murray feels like she finally has it all together, seven years after her husband Seth left her and their three-year-old daughter Anastasia in the middle of the night, leaving only a note behind. Sure, she's working three jobs to make ends meet, and sure, their house isn't as nice as the others in the neighborhood, but she's managing it, and all that really matters to her anyways is Anastasia.

    When Seth reappears out of the blue, apparently finished with his stint in the Peace Corps and ready to be a father again, Jill is terrified that he will disappoint them, and especially their daughter, again. Anastasia is thrilled to have her dad back in her life, but Jill can't help but have her reservations.

    Meanwhile, things are getting even more complicated on the man front. Jill is finding it next to impossible to resist her sweet and charming client, Billy, but is afraid to introduce yet another thing into her already chaotic life. Unable to figure out what to do, Jill takes a giant leap and takes a solo trip to Costa Rica, hoping that she'll be able to find out some answers while she's there.

    Jill Murray is the protaganist that you're rooting for from the very beginning. She's sweet and lovable, yet closed off. She's been hurt before- big-time- and she's not keen to let anyone into her carefully constructed bubble. As a reader, I rooted for her all the way through. I hoped that she would come out of her shell, live a little, and realize that although she had been hurt before, not all men would be like her husband. Jill's neighbor, Cynthia, who likes to appear vapid but is anything but, was a welcome addition to the cast of characters. The fact that she was Jill's complete opposite made for an interesting comparison, and an even more entertaining friendship.

    I loved the underlying theme about change and growth. The title comes from the concept that every seven years our skin completely regenerates itself, making us essentially a whole new person. Throughout the book we are presented with the concept that change, and especially personal growth, can be a good thing, if only we open ourselves up to it.

    I really enjoyed "Seven Year Switch" and read it in less than a day! Claire Cook takes a situation that is serious and all too real (abandonment) and turns it into something fun, heartwarming, and empowering for the people involved. I highly recommend that you slip this one into your bag the next time you're headed for the beach- you won't be disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved it!

    If you like to read books that make you forget everything that's going on around you, then this is one for you.
    Everyone deserves happiness and love-but what exactly is true love? This a delightful ride through the imperfections of life on the way to find out if true love is real. I loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

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    A New Favorite

    This was my first Claire Cook book. If I'd known how much I would love her writing style, I would have read all of her books by now.

    The book is laugh out loud funny from the very beginning. Every "Lunch Around The World" story was hilarious, especially the descriptions of the members like "T-shirt Tom". My favorite character was Jill. She isn't perfect, she has doubts, fears and worries just like we all do. When her ex shows up she wants to tell him what she really thinks about him and send him back to wherever he came from. But, for the sake of her daughter, she lets him back into their lives. She's a mom who cares about everything that effects her daughter, but knows when to back off and give her room to make her own decisions and be herself.

    Another character, Billy was a favorite. Billy is a business man who wears bike shorts to meetings and dressier clothes to ride bikes. Now that's funny!! Jill doesn't feel she is good enough a catch for Billy, and I was so glad the author thought different. He saw the real Jill and made her feel special.

    I also thought Jill's friend Cynthia was a great character. I liked that the two women were like night and day. Cynthia always seemed to be in a tennis outfit and was always "playing dumb", although she was in fact very smart. I've know a few women like that.

    This book will have you thinking of Jill as a friend. I laughed, cried and worried right along with her.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an easy, funny, feel good book. I can't wait to read the other books by Claire Cook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    Seven Year Switch Better Than the Seven Year Itch!

    Claire Cook writes an inspirational novel for all mid-life women who believe that career & romance have passed them by. Unshackle, untether yourselves, ladies, from your own self-created prisons, & curl up with this book that will allow you to dream, & dream big, & to believe that all is possible, no matter how old you are, or what unresolved baggage you are carrying from your past. Claire Cook gives us memorable characters that we care about, identify with, & want to find out more about even after the last page is read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    I felt this story from several sides

    I was set to enjoy this book before I started it, and once I started reading...I wasn't disappointed! The key thing that tugged at me was Jill's responsibility to her daughter -vs.- responsibility to her new self. Having been both a child of divorce, and a divorced mother learning to reinvent my life (with all the angst that goes along with it!), that will really stick with me for a long time. Great job!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    Fantastic Summer Read

    For me, the beach reading season hasn't officially begun until I read the latest from Claire Cook. And Seven Year Switch got my summer off to a perfect start. I love the warmth and humor that fill Claire's books, and I find myself feeling like her characters and I are old friends. This book brought all of the best - a great story that had me turning pages with anticipation and characters I will never forget. Thanks for giving me such a wonderful summer tradition to look forward to each year!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fabulously funny, loving, heartfelt, Claire Cook is wonderful.

    Loved this book...heartwarming, real, funny...perfectly depicts a single mom struggling with raising her daughter and the emotions and relationship challenges that happen...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    Delightful ...

    Claire Cook has crafted another winner. With her trademark wit and tenderness, she sweeps us into the topsy-turvy life of Jill Murray, a feisty single mom trying to stitch together a future after she and her little girl, Anastasia, are abandoned by her husband. SEVEN YEAR SWITCH explores love, loss, anger, recovery, and the surprising events that healed the hearts of a young mother and her daughter.

    The characters are fully developed, and each has endearing quirks, fobiles, and very real (sometimes delightfully convoluted) emotions. From page one to the end, I cheered for Jill the entire way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Funny Beach Read!

    This is a great book to read to kick off the summer beach reading season! Jill Murray is a single mom raising her 10 year old daughter, Anastasia. Jill is "man-free" after her husband abandoned both her and her daughter 7 years ago. Jill is a strong woman who has worked hard at being a good parent. She works two jobs answering phones for Great Girls Getaways and also teaches a cultural cooking class. She meets Billy who hires her as a consultant around the same time Seth, the ex-husband decides he needs to get to know his daughter. Jill finds herself smitten with Billy but finds herself spending time with Seth and their daughter. All of a sudden Jill's man-free life is anything but man-free! There are quite a few interesting characters in the book. I loved Cynthia, Jill's well-to-do and crazy neighbor. I love how light hearted and fun this book is! I found myself laughing many time throughout the book! I think anyone in Jill's situation needs to have a good sense of humor and she definitely has that! Some of the situations she finds herself in are quite humorous! Take this book to the beach but bring plenty of sunscreen with you because you won't want to put it down until you've finished it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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