The Season of Second Chances: A Novel

The Season of Second Chances: A Novel

by Diane Meier


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A world of possibilities opens up for Joy Harkness when she sets out on a journey that's going to show her the importance of friendship, love, and what makes a house a home

Coming-of-age can happen at any age. Joy Harkness had built a university career and a safe life in New York, protected and insulated from the intrusions and involvements of other people. When offered a position at Amherst College, she impulsively leaves the city, and along with generations of material belongings, she packs her equally heavy emotional baggage. A tumbledown Victorian house proves an unlikely choice for a woman whose family heirlooms have been boxed away for years. Nevertheless, this white elephant becomes the home that changes Joy forever. As the restoration begins to take shape, so does her outlook on life, and the choices she makes over paint chips, wallpaper samples, and floorboards are reflected in her connection to the co-workers who become friends and friendships that deepen. A brilliant, quirky, town fixture of a handyman guides the renovation of the house and sparks Joy's interest to encourage his personal and professional growth. Amid the half-wanted attention of the campus's single, middle-aged men, known as "the Coyotes,"and the legitimate dramas of her close-knit community, Joy learns that the key to the affection of family and friends is being worthy of it, and most important, that second chances are waiting to be discovered within us all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312674113
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/29/2011
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,227,128
Product dimensions: 5.36(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Diane Meier is the author of The New American Wedding and president of Meier, a New York City-based marketing firm. Her career spans from writing and design to public speaking. The Season of Second Chances is her first novel. Meier lives in New York City and Litchfield, Connecticut.

Reading Group Guide

1. Do you find Joy to be a reliable narrator? Is she capable of providing insights about her own life? Does this change from the beginning to the end of the novel?

2. How did your opinion of Joy change throughout the novel? Did you find her endearing at first? In a way, do you think your perception of the narrator over the course of the novel mimics Joy's own coming to terms with herself?

3. Joy heads off to Amherst thinking that it will be a fresh change from what she perceives as the politics and bureaucracy at Columbia. Is Amherst truly different from Columbia? Did Adele Grant's wedding change your opinion of the life Joy left behind?

4. At first, Joy finds Fran and Josie's attempts at friendship intrusive. What is it that finally gets her to accept them as her friends? Why do you think it takes Joy so long to open up to them?

5. When Teddy first starts working on Joy's house, he takes her completely by surprise when he recites Yeats to her. What do you make of this incident? How does it foreshadow the events still to come? 6. Joy's sharp wit pervades the novel. Do you think that in some ways she uses her wit to distract herself from the reality at hand? Is it a kind of guard for her?

7. Consider the effect that Joe's death had on Teddy, and the effects of Tim's death on Joy. Were their reactions to losing an older brother at all similar? How did Joy and Teddy each respond to this loss? Joy mentions that once she moved to New York, she no longer felt that Timmy was with her. Why do you think this changes when she arrives in Amherst?

8. At one point in the novel, Joy goes to Will's apartment, where she is met by a half-naked Will, and, moments later, a neighbor knocking at the door in a negligee who claims to have stopped by because she thought she smelled gas. What do you make of this incident? How is it that Will manages to make her try to talk herself out of what she's seen? Is she willing to be manipulated? Why?

9. In what ways is the night Joy leaves Will a major turning point for her? Is there anything different about her afterward?

10. How does Joy deal with the attack on Donna? Does she surprise herself in some ways? Did she surprise you?

11. What does this novel have to say about feminism? Consider Bernadette Lowell's opinions about women taking care of each other, and also what Theo (the hairdresser) has to say about looking good to get ahead. What is Joy's definition of feminism? Does it change over the course of the novel?

12. Joy, Josie, and Dan all want to get Teddy to go back to school, but he doesn't seem particularly interested. Why do you think that is? What are Joy's reasons for wanting Teddy to go back to school? Do her actions in this arena demonstrate a deeper understanding of Teddy or not? Do you think, at times, academic learning can be overly important to her?

13. Parts of the novel's plot turn on Teddy's relationship with his mother, Maureen. Why do you think she treats him the way that she does? Why does he submit to it? Do you think that Teddy is genuinely his own person? Do you think he can be his own person while he's still under his mother's wing?

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