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The Season of Second Chances

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3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  635 ratings  ·  162 reviews
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
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 30th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,484)
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Laurel
I recently finished The Season of Second Chances, by Diane Meier and liked it so much that I didn’t want to write about it!

I do that sometimes after experiencing a great movie, opera, musical or book. When something touches me profoundly, I want it all to myself. Talking or writing about it somehow takes the shine off my new found treasure. And then there is that Bridget Jones insecurity tapping me on the shoulder telling me that my review could never give it due justice, or I would gush about i
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Amy
Joy Harkness is sick of her life in New York as a professor at Columbia University. She wants a change, and serendipitously the opportunity opens up when a well-known feminist author invites her to Amherst to join a new educational group to discover a new philosophy of learning. She moves there, finds a new home, and begins to recreate her life: her ‘second chance’. She falls into a wonderful new community of interesting individuals, all living fulfilled lives, and not only gets to enjoy her new ...more
Wes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
I loved The Season of Second Chancesl! This is one of the best books that I have read this year. I picked it up, not sure what to expect. I was trying to work my way through The Three Weissmanns of Westportl and having a difficult time, so I decided to try this book, based on all the great recommendations. It was a really good book, easy to read and engaging from the first page.

The Season of Second Chances is about a college English professor, Joy, who is really going through the motions of lif
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Patty
This is Diane Meirs debut novel, and it is excellent, and I am anxiously awaiting her next novel. Joy Harkness has been a very successful professor at Columbia for 15 years, but she is ready for a change. She gets recruited for a unique position as part of a team at Amherst College, at a great salary. She put her apartment in NY up for sale and it sold almost immediately. "Everyone seemed to think that the apartment was such a gem, with its high coffered ceilings, parquet floors and the bowed wi ...more
Jo
Jun 12, 2011 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This is a beautifully written, character-driven literary novel (not chick-lit). The main character is a “nearly 50” single professor of literature. After her brother died when she was 14, the miasma ofgrief took her and wrapped her up and separated her from life. She went through the motions, including marriage, divorce, and career at Columbia, but did not truly care, feel, or live. Her name, Joy, became somewhat of an oxymoron. This is the story of her re-emergence into life – at 48 — with all ...more
Colleen
The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier tells the story of Joy Harkness and the new chapter she faces in her life. Leaving behind her relatively solitary existence in New York City as a professor at Columbia, Joy heads north and takes a position at a Massachusetts university. The novel chronicles Joy's transition to her new life and the self discovery that accompanies the transition.

Without acknowledging that she wanted or needed to, Joy leaves behind her NYC existence and is suddenly confro
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Sherri Rifkin
I absolutely adored this book.

I finished it three days ago and the characters are still with me, as is the main character Joy's house and the people in her Amherst community who draw them into her lives and therefore out of herself. I gobbled it up in practically one sitting.

This book has all my favorite elements: a compelling, sympathetic yet undeniably imperfect main character, a finely crafted and vivid setting, unique secondary characters who are distinct and wholly themselves from the momen
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Laura
When I finished The Season of Second Chances, I felt bereft. The Season of Second Chances was a wonderful novel that I enjoyed reading. I enjoyed it so much that I ripped through the book reading it too late into the night and finishing it in record speed during a busy work week. After I finished it, I regretted only that it didn’t continue on as I loved the story and characters so much, it was hard to let them go.

The Season of Second Chances is a unique story that I really loved. Joy Harkness i
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Mary Ronan Drew
Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about The Season of Second Chances:

An out-of-touch Columbia professor gets a new lease on life in Meier's unconvincing debut when she takes on a fixer-upper house and some equally messy relationships. Forty-eight-year-old Joy Harkness loves teaching, but hates the campus politics and her lonely Manhattan life. So when she's invited to be part of a new program at Amherst College, Joy jumps at the chance and buys a nearly condemnable Victorian with no clue
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Gail Cooke
Do you ever wonder how many go to New York City looking for success and excitement? Next query - how many find it? Joy Harkness did not. She had long nurtured a dream of going to Manhattan as "a way out of Saint Louis." Some 17 years later she tells us, "It takes a keen eye to tell a false start from a dead end. I was finished with New York."

To many Joy's life was enviable - she'd been at Columbia University for 12 years, received a full professorship and published a book of poetry. Yet she rema
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Laura
This is the story of Joy Harkness, a university professor who led an empty life—camouflaged by a successful career—and finally took the opportunity to change it and learned to live more fully. The cover and the synopsis attracted me to this book; however, the opening chapters did not hook me. The author’s writing style took some getting used to, as it was full of comparisons I could not relate to.

I debated if I wanted to continue reading it, and I stuck to my rule of reading the first fifty page
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Diane
Joy Harkness is a smart 40+ something woman who lead an insulated life working at Columbia University in New York. In NYC she had lovely "apartment with a great view", and a life that was comfortable, but she also had a past and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.

An opportunity presents itself for Joy to leave the big city behind, for a start up project at Amherst College in the quaint college town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Joy quickly packs up the things she can't live without and l
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Carolyn Hill
While I enjoyed this book and stayed up late to finish it, I'm inclined to give this 3.5 stars. Joy Harkness, the lead character, is a literature professor recruited from Columbia to Amherst College, and, through the people she meets in the new job and locale, goes through a profound personal change. In short, she awakens from the dull, emotionally void life of a solitary academic to an engaged participant in her own life and the life of her community. And it started with the house. She bought a ...more
Barbara A.
A very very enjoyable read! If you like the films of Nancy Meyers, reading searchingly intellectual essays in The New York Review of Books, watching episodes of THIS OLD HOUSE, and flipping through back issues of Martha Stewart LIVING, this book will hook you! It is as smart as the average post feminist 'women's novel' yet is is a wonderfully commercial page-tuner. WASPY College Prof Joy leave a steady tenured post at Columbia to take on new challenges at U Amherst in Mass. She is s cool custome ...more
Ang
I was pleasantly surprised by how substantial this book ended up being. I thought, based on the information I'd read about it, that it would be frothy and light, filled with romance and fun descriptions of an old house. I got the latter part right, but the former rather wrong. Not that there wasn't romance of a sort in the book, but it wasn't frothy and it wasn't necessarily fun. [return][return]I think this books strikes a really good balance between serious and not, and I especially did enjoy ...more
Brian
The back of the book did not do this book justice. This just proves that the description of the book does not indicate if you will like the author's writing style, or the actual plot itself. The plot is very simple: A woman moves from NYC to MA, buys an expensive house, meets an eccentric handyman with an overbearing mother, and tries to find meaning to her life. What made this book so good was the author's writing style. The plot sounds like pure chick lit, but her writing style was deeper and ...more
Andi
I definitely enjoyed this story, probably because I could relate - to the academic world, to the idea of "starting again" later in life, to the love of an old house. Very fun and also encouraging.
Georgiann Hennelly
I n this novel, Joy Harkness is given the opportunity to start a new life. She buys a dilapidated old house,and befriends the handy man. She,d lived in New York city for years and gave it up for small town life. Little did she kow that small town life can have more drama than the big city. This is a novel that made me think. At some point in our lifes we all are given the opportunity to chance some things in our lives. Some accept it and others have problems accepting it.
Emily
A tough one for me to rate--I love makeover stories, and this one gives me the transformation of a woman and her house. I love feminist issues, and there are plenty of amusing and witty observations here. I also love literature and community and romance--check, check, check. But now that I've finished with it, I'm not in love.

The writing is fun and smart, and the supporting characters are all interesting, if a little cartoonish. Who wouldn't envy the circle that Joy joins? There's a lot of deli
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Angela
I won this book on Firstreads!!

This is a really great book. I really enjoyed the perspective of the narrator, and really felt as if I got to know her and went through the changes in her life along with her. This book is about "broadening your horizons", as my mom used to say to me when I was a kid. Thoroughly enjoyable read.
Kaye
I really loved this book.
It took me awhile to warm to the protagonist until I realized I was taking her much more seriously than she was taking herself.
This is a debut novel by an author I'll be following.
Jessica
Loved this book! A very realistic portrait of academia and of small town Massachusetts life. I found this character's journey to be moving and often very funny.
Sarah
Loved this. I read it in 2 sittings and it was a welcome, beautiful and thoughtful break from the too many non-fiction books I have read. Highly recommend it.
Melinda
It was a story about a life transformation from being a recluse to forming lasting bonds with others. . . good character development.
Judy
there were many familiar topics covered in this book: feminism, academia,grief. Lots of humor threaded throughout. Enjoyed it!
Carolyn
Interesting look at academics and letting people into their lives.
Anne
One of the best books I have read in a while. Medicine for my soul.
Patti
Normally, I make a connection with a "hero" or " heroine" quickly. I either like or dislike them. I was 75 pages into this book and unable to muster anything but boredom, and the overwhelming feeling that "Joy" must have been ironically named. Were she my professor, I would drop the class.

Ms. Meier has created a banal main character, and writes about her in a pretentious, pseudo intellectual manner. All the appealing secondary characters are belittled in some way. Each of their most human aspec
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Susan
Lame and pathetic character.
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Diane Meier Delaney is the author of The Season of Second Chances and The New American Wedding. She is the founder and president of MEIER, a full service marketing firm in Manhattan.
More about Diane Meier...
Breakfast: The Talking Box The New American Wedding: Ritual and Style in a Changing Culture Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Lunch: Tap or Toe Cocktails & Advertising

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