Empty Nests Prompt Heroines to Step Outside of Their Comfort Zones in Debbie Macomber’s Window on the Bay

While many a parent may rejoice at getting their house back when their college-bound kids take off for the university life, some might feel a tad restless at finding themselves with an empty nest. Such is the case for one of the heroines in Debbie Macomber’s latest, Window on the Bay, who realizes she has a lot of extra time on her hands when her younger child, a daughter, moves into her college dorm. As a result, said heroine realizes she is ready to live primarily for herself again and starts trying the things she’s always dreamed of doing. A Macomber novel can stand on its own merit, but with the Fall 2019 semester coming up, this is indeed a timely story. 

Window on the Bay introduces us to two women, Jenna and Maureen, a nurse and librarian, respectively, who have been close friends since college and were just about to take off for a dream trip to Paris when Maureen got pregnant. Sadly, that trip to Paris was put on the back burner. Both women subsequently got married, had children, and later divorced their husbands. While Jenna’s husband was a serial cheater, Maureen and her ex-husband were simply not a good match and parted amicably. Jenna has two children, a son and a daughter who are both now in college, and Maureen has a daughter in her early twenties. Unlike Maureen’s ex-husband, Jenna’s ex does not keep in touch with his kids. 

For Jenna, everything changes when her daughter opts to move into a dorm rather than live at home. While Maureen has already lived alone without her own daughter, this is Jenna’s first time experiencing a truly empty nest. Her older son was already away at school. As a result, Jenna’s house has lost a great deal of energy and activity, and she needs to find ways to fill up her new free time. 

To Jenna’s credit, she doesn’t want to mope around. Instead, she’s determined to make her new life work for herself. (One major step she takes is in the redecorating arena, which includes buying new dishes and towels. Even the most “What’s the big deal about THAT?” reader might feel the need to make a Target run after reading this book.) Jenna’s life takes an unexpected turn when her elderly mother sustains an injury and needs surgery. 

Enter Dr. Rowan Lancaster, said elderly mom’s silver fox of a surgeon. 

Now, Jenna and Maureen are not completely alien to the concept of dating. They’ve each dated their fair share of men over the years, but none of said men ever came close to making them feel real feelings. Jenna never thought she’d date another medical professional (her ex-husband was a surgeon—and exceptionally whiny and arrogant), but she soon realizes that while Rowan and her ex-husband share a profession, they could not be more different. Rowan is thoughtful and introspective. That said, he’s not boring. His kisses more than make Jenna feel like a natural woman and prove that while he has a stoic demeanor, he has a deeply passionate and sensitive soul. Jenna soon learns that Rowan is dealing with his own familial issues—and it just might take her awhile to understand his side of the story. 

As for Maureen, everything changes when Logan, a construction worker and plumber, starts coming by her library on a regular basis requesting book recommendations. Logan is truly unlike any man Maureen has ever dated and makes her step outside of her comfort zone. (Sometimes to humorously awkward results, but still. He tries and she tries.) 

Romance aside, Jenna and Maureen navigate other life events the best they can. One of the major challenges Jenna faces is letting her two kids make their own decisions and choose their own paths in life. Jenna’s daughter, for example, might give Jenna a run for her money as she starts navigating college life, but it’s Jenna’s son who ends up really shaking up his mother when he makes a choice she doesn’t like. As for Maureen, she finds herself being supportive of her daughter, who has been trying to get pregnant, without being too interfering. 

Throughout all of this turmoil, Jenna and Maureen have each other, and when they manage to get together amidst all of the craziness there is plenty of tea and wine. Jenna also manages to carve out an enviable amount of “Me Time,” with her baths and her window seat that overlooks a beautiful local Seattle bay. (After raising two kids and taking care of her mom and dealing with the fallout of a terrible marriage and divorce, Jenna has certainly earned her zen time.) Indeed, this is what makes Window on the Bay so entertaining. Reading as Jenna learns to relinquish control over her children’s lives and focus on living her own best life serves as a strong reminder that we can’t control everything, nor should we want to. Jenna and her children are each finding their own sense of freedom, and while there are stumbles, everyone eventually learns how to navigate their own lives. And that’s what makes them happy.

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