A friend of mine recommended this book after I had read some horrendous titles recently that were not even worth reviewing. So I’m delighted to say that I really enjoyed this book! It even kept me up way too late last night to finish it which says a lot!
This is about a 48 year old woman who is a college professor of literature at Columbia, but has inadvertently isolated herself from relationships, and finds herself in an unhappy rut. When she is offered her dream job at Amherst College, she jumps at the chance. There, she buys a wreck of a Victorian house, that needs as much of a renovation as her life does, and this story of second chances includes (but is not limited to) that process.
The characters in this book are believable, interesting and intelligent. It is quietly thought provoking and instructional on many levels, while still being seamlessly charming and warm. It held my attention right through to the end and effortlessly made me want to be a better person. I considered giving this book only four stars merely because it lacks an importance it is not even striving for, but this is a five star beach read, perfect for vacation. It is a considerable step up from chick lit, very well written and entertaining, but no literary blockbuster either. But sometimes a pleasant middle age “coming of age” story of hope and rebirth is just what you want?
Here are some bits the book left me thinking about:
• (First sentence:) “It takes a keen eye to tell a false start from a dead end.”
• ‘You have to look in the mirror and like what you see, just as if you were looking at someone you loved. You have to learn to celebrate that person and bolster her and indulge her and encourage her – just as if she were your lover or your child. No more hiding.’
• ‘Why,’ he asked, ‘when you know you are not going to be judged on a level playing field, would you ever dream that you could afford to let go of any advantages you can control? … Your first job is to protect yourself from being made irrelevant. It may not be fair. You may not be judged by the right criteria – okay, I get it – but that’s what you’ve got to work with. That’s the straw you’ve drawn – born into this culture at this particular time. I’m not saying you need to be a supermodel. I’m just saying, in this economy, in this moment in time – and even leaving sexist issues aside – can anyone afford not to be presenting the best possible picture of themselves?’
• ‘I think the trick is being open to change, while making the best of the chaos that change tracks into our lives…’
• ‘Don’t you get it? No one is using the same yardstick. Their idea of a full measure is rarely yours – or anyone else’s.’
Are you stuck? What is your idea of a full measure? Are you embracing change? Are you enjoying your best self? Enjoying this book will set you thinking about these things, as we all have a new chance everyday.