Time of My Life: A Novel

Time of My Life: A Novel

3.6 79
by Allison Winn Scotch
     
 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Jillian Westfield has a life straight out of the women’s magazines she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, and the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple. With her investment-banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Jillian Westfield has a life straight out of the women’s magazines she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, and the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple. With her investment-banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ Range Rover ads.

Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix her faltering marriage or stop her from asking "What if?"

Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. She’s back in her Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend, and star of her what-if fantasies.

Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can reconnect to the mother who abandoned her, she can use ad campaigns from her future to wow her clients, and she can fix the fights that doomed her relationship with Jackson.

Or can she?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Named a Top 10 Must-Read for the Season by The Today Show

"Scotch's novel is a clever, entertaining look at the compromises women make - and the dangers of getting what you asked for."
People

“After this hilarious read, you may just return to your crazy-busy routine a little happier.”
Redbook

“Perfect to read with friends. A book we love....The kind of unputdownable book you'll really hope gets made into a movie."
Cosmopolitan

"[Jillian] is easy to understand, a woman trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Scotch is a fluent, spirited writer."
Boston Globe

“Book pick of the month. Insightful and honest, Winn Scotch keeps it light but delves in the dark doubts of the road not taken.”
Family Circle

“A must-read. A fantastic, often funny novel.”
Hallmark Magazine

“An engaging, fast-moving, high-concept drama. Scotch keeps one dexterous step ahead of page-flipping readers eager to guess the outcome.“
Publishers Weekly

“Scotch’s second book shows a writer coming into her own, a storyteller who doesn’t take the easy way out, and a woman with a fine understanding of human nature.”
Booklist

Time of My Life is a fabulous, madcap read, but don’t be fooled. Allison Winn Scotch’s narrator is wrestling with some tough issues: How do I find my place in the world? Can I become a wife and mother without losing myself? Would I have been happier if I had chosen another path? Scotch’s book is hilarious and true. I loved it.”
—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Forgive Me

“I loved this book! Time of My Life is funny and delightful and honest in the way only the best novels can be. I read it all in one delicious sitting.”
—Laura Dave, author of London Is the Best City in America and The Divorce Party

Time of My Life will keep you reading all night and guessing till the very end. An honest and engaging tale about how hindsight may not be twenty-twenty and how our decisions are rarely black and white. I loved it.”
—Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly

In her latest novel, Scotch tackles an oft-asked question-what if I had held on to the one that got away?-with an engaging, fast-moving, high-concept drama. Endearing Jillian Westfield seems to have it all: a loving lawyer husband, a healthy infant daughter, and a lovely home in Westchester County, N.Y. But cleaning spit-up and dealing with her husband's long office hours have begun to wear on Jill, and it hardly helps that she's just learned that her post-college boyfriend, Jackson, is getting married. The day after a deep, chi-clearing massage, Jill wakes up and finds herself seven years in the past, giving her the chance to revisit her life with Jack in Manhattan, when she worked as an advertising executive. Hindsight, of course, is anything but 20/20, and Jill's new choices hold unforeseen consequences for herself and those she loves. As Jill, through trial and error, rethinks her biggest decisions-such as her choice not to reconcile with her estranged mother-Scotch keeps one dexterous step ahead of page-flipping readers eager to guess the outcome. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Jillian has what seems to be a perfect life-a beautiful house in the suburbs, a loving husband, and an adorable baby girl. But she also has a nagging feeling that something isn't quite right. Could it have something to do with Jackson, her past boyfriend, who couldn't be more different than her solid, stable, and perfectly predictable husband, Henry? One morning, Jillian wakes up seven years in the past, in bed with Jackson, and she has the chance to live her life again-a do over, complete with the knowledge of what her future will become. Will she still quit her job right on the cusp of making it big? Will she run for the hills when she meets Henry or be drawn to him again? Or will Jackson's easygoing, wild lifestyle pull her back from her future baby, the adorable Katie? So many life choices come at Jillian, and she can go forward as she pleases, knowing the outcome of one direction. If you've ever wanted your own do over, this cute, light read by a debut novelist will keep you guessing 'til the end. Recommended for women's fiction collections.-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307408587
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
08/04/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
585,843
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Somewhere in the tunnels of my left ear, I hear my car alerting me to the fact that my door is open. I take vague notice of my brain accepting the message, then I quickly ignore it. The dinging, to which I am now immune, as if someone were pinching me on my arm over and over again until that same spot becomes numb, continues.

I run my hands over the cool wood of the steering wheel, then onto the buttery leather seat below, flicking my hands underneath the sweat-basted backs of my thighs. The brochure to this car— the one that was filled with a couple who so closely resembled Barbie and Ken that my daughter actually pointed to them and said, “Barbie,” which my husband and I applauded to the point of revelry (such that people in the dealership craned their necks to see if we’d been given a free car or something), because my daugh- ter’s vocabulary consisted of, to date, approximately seventeen words, so “Barbie” was another milestone—actually made you believe that if you bought the car, you could also buy the life. As if on the weekends, we’d be careening down sides of mountains or hurtling through white-water-filled rivers or picnicking in a dewy, crisply green meadow at sunset with a field of sunflowers just behind us.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Mama.

More.

Dog.

Dada.

No.

Yes.

Kiss.

Milk.

Ball.

Up.

Balloon.

Hi.

Bottle.

Cup.

Bye.

Down.

Sleep.

I run the list of Katie’s words over in my mind. I have them down cold, of course, because I was the mother who knew these things. I was the mother who dutifully jotted down every milestone (“4 months, 3 weeks: Katie rolled over today! Far ahead of the 6-month target!”), who nursed her until her first birthday exactly, per the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation (“I’m so sad to give it up,” I told friends as wrinkles washed across my forehead to note my air of sincerity), and who, as I have mentioned, tallied up Katie’s vocabulary to ensure that she was on track to fulfill her potential. Seventeen words. A gasp ahead of other eighteen-month-olds.

And now, we also had “Barbie.”

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Splat.

My eyes whip over to the upper corner of the windshield, where mildew-colored bird shit slowly oozes down. Great, I think. Just fucking great. There’s never any bird shit in the goddamn brochure. I inhale and try to release the stress, as my Pilates teacher had taught me to do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 10:00 to 11:00, after my nanny had arrived, and just before I went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner. I feel the air fill my chest, and it expands like a helium balloon.

I count to five and try not to gag. It’s hard, after all, to clear my mind when the scent of fetid milk is wafting from the backseat. On the way home from a playdate yesterday, Katie had dumped her sippy cup on her head, for apparently no reason whatsoever, and since I’d already exhausted myself pretending to dote on the kids at this seemingly never-ending excruciatingly boring playdate, during which all the moms discussed diaper changes and nanny problems and potential preschool applications, I opted not to clean her car seat. Fuck it, I told myself, as I pulled my darling daughter and her crisp near-black curls from her saturated seat and called her a “silly willy” for dousing herself despite knowing better. Just fuck it.

And so I did. Which is why my Range Rover, which should have still smelled like a fine blend of lemon cleaner and shoe polish, now reeked like petrified puke.

The bird shit is snaking its way into the crack between the windshield and the side of the car when I notice that Mrs. Kwon is waving at me from inside of the dry cleaner. She is frantically, frantically flashing her hand through the air, with an alarmed, toothy smile that she wears just about every time I see her. Sometimes the alarm fades into cunning, but the toothiness remains the same.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

I heave myself from my car and make the steep step down to the pavement. I turn and look at the backs of my legs: They glisten from the perspiration and are pocked with marks from the seat, such that they form the perfect illusion of sheeny cellulite. I slam the door shut.

Suddenly, there is quiet. I couldn’t hear the dings. But now, I do hear the quiet.

´

“You no look so good,” Mrs. Kwon says to me. The rack of clothes that hangs across and throughout the ceiling is snaking its way forward until she presses a button, and it stops abruptly. She grabs a pole and reaches up to unhook Henry’s, my husband’s, shirts. “You not sleeping? Because you really no look so good.”

I press my lips together and morph my face into something like a smile. I can feel my cheeks digging into themselves, my dimples cratering.

“No,” I say, and shake my head. “Not sleeping too much, I guess.”

“What wrong?” Mrs. Kwon asks, as she wrestles the shirts down to our level.

“Nothing.” I shrug. My face muscles are starting to tremble from the weight of the forced smile. “Nothing at all.”

“You not being honest,” Mrs. Kwon chastises. “When you no sleep, something is always wrong.” She lands the shirts, much like how I imagine a fisherman lands his catch, and splays them across the counter.

I don’t answer. Instead, I sift through my purse for my wallet.

“Have you talk to husband about it?” Mrs. Kwon is relentless. “You always picking up his things, but I never meet him. Why? Where is he? Why he never pick up his own shirts?”

“He’s working,” I say.

“Eh,” she responds. “Men always working. They not realizing that the women are working, too.” She gestures behind her. “My husband think that because I am wife, I have to clean, cook, and still do dry-clean business. What does he do? Nothing!” She shimmies her hands even more exuberantly than normal.

I smile with what I hope to be sympathy and wait for my change, as she punches the cash register with fervor.

“You know what you need?” she asks, as the drawer to the register bounces open. “More sex.” I feel myself turning a hue of purple, which she quickly detects. “Don’t you be embarrassed! Every woman need more sex. You sleep better. Your marriage better. Sex make all things better.”

“Well, unfortunately,” I say, trying to swallow the mortification that comes with your dry cleaner giving you advice on your carnal activities, “Henry is in London. And will be for at least another week.” I don’t mention that Henry is nearly always in London or San Francisco or Hong Kong or somewhere that isn’t our quaint, homey suburb tucked away thirty miles from Manhattan, where people flee from the city life like fugitives who aren’t sure what they’re outrunning. Henry’s constant travel was the price we paid for his success as the youngest partner at his boutique investment bank.

“Oooh, that too bad.” Mrs. Kwon’s eyes grow small. “You do look like you need some good sex.” She shrugs and flashes her teeth again. “Maybe next week you look better!”

Maybe, I think, as I plod out to my sure-to-make-my-life-rosy new car. But, then again, probably not.

´

Right there, I nearly moaned out load. Yes, harder right there.

Garland must have intuited my angst because at that very moment, I feel his fingertips knead into my upper shoulders like a baker might bread.

“You’re spasming here,” he whispers just loudly enough so I can hear him over the Enya. I feel my muscle involuntarily clench up and resist the very relief that I’m trying to offer it. “This entire section of your back is in deep spasm,” he repeats. “We’re going to have to do a lot of work on this today.”

I grunt and rearrange my face in the donut cushion so that I, ideally, won’t look half-alien when Garland is done. Not that he hasn’t seen me at my worst before: once, on my worst day, I devolved into sputtering sobs as his hands worked their way down my torso, releasing what he later told me was “disturbed energy” that came unjiggered through the power of massage. But still. It wasn’t a look to which I aspired. Not least because, as my friends from Pilates informed me, Garland, with his sinewy forearms and espresso-colored hair, would occasionally put his hands in places where, perhaps, management wouldn’t approve. But where my friends very much did.

But I’d been seeing him every other week for nearly four months, and as of yet, nothing inappropriate at all. Which, in some ways, was a relief. Henry and I had met at twenty-seven, and for the past seven years, there had been no one else. Nor had I truly wanted there to be. I was a wife. I was a good wife, and fantasizing about your masseuse, no, fantasizing about anyone was outside the bounds of what I characterized a “good” wife to be. I attended the requisite cocktail parties for Henry’s firm. I washed our ivory damask sheets every Saturday. I ironed Katie’s gingham dresses so that there wasn’t a literal thread out of place.

Of course, despite my best and most public efforts, my subconscious occasionally led me down paths that my current consciousness couldn’t control. So while Garland worked his delicious finger magic on me, I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel if those fingers wound their way beyond the acceptable parameters of what they teach you in massage school.

From the Hardcover edition.

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