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Granite Springs #5

The Life She Imagines

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Marie Cunningham’s life falls into disarray when she is suddenly thrust into caring for her teenage niece. After operating The Bean Sprout Café with her former partner, becoming a single parent is not a life she ever imagined.

Drew Hamilton has arrived in Granite Springs to take up the position of principal at the local high school. Recently divorced, he is struggling with the unfamiliar role of single father to his unsettled teenage daughter.

When an unexpected incident brings the two together, the chemistry between them is not immediately apparent. Forced to associate as their teenage charges become best friends, they gradually lower their defences to discover they have a lot in common.

But when a ghost from the past threatens to derail her new life, who should Marie turn to for support – the new man in her life, or the ex-partner who’s always been there for her?

Can Marie and Drew find their happy ending, or will the past threaten to pull them apart?

The Life She Imagines is the fifth book in the Granite Springs series set in a small Australian country town.

Kindle Edition

Published August 21, 2020

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About the author

Maggie Christensen

35 books125 followers
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.
From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia,where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound.
A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks. In 2014 she self-published Band of Gold and The Sand Dollar, Book One in the Oregon Coast Series, in 2015, The Dreamcatcher, Book Two in the Oregon Coast Series and Broken Threads, and in 2016, Madeline House, book Three in the Oregon Coast Series

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5 stars
75 (60%)
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37 (29%)
3 stars
10 (8%)
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2 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,095 reviews2,664 followers
August 21, 2020
Marie Cunningham had been separated from her partner Frank for some time, but it was amicable, and they still worked together at the Bean Sprout Café, which had been in Frank’s family for generations. He’d lived his whole life in Granite Springs as had Marie, and while their wish for children hadn’t eventuated, Marie loved her fifteen-year-old niece from Canberra. Her sister Dee was a single parent and her and Lucy’s visit for the Easter weekend was one Marie was looking forward to. But the weekend didn’t turn out as they’d expected and suddenly, Marie was caring for her shattered niece, while trying to cope with her own grief.

Drew Hamilton had been high school principal since the beginning of the year and along with his teenage daughter Jess, they hadn’t made many friends. Jess harped about returning to Melbourne, missing her friends – she wouldn’t let it rest. Drew knew they needed to settle better, so when Jess was spending the Easter break with her mother in the US, Drew decided to approach the few people he did know, with the view of making friends. Would Drew and Marie become friendly? What would be the outcome for the two families?

The Life She Imagines is the 5th in the Granite Springs series by Aussie author Maggie Christensen and once again the author has nailed it. The focus on the mature generation in Ms Christensen’s books is refreshing and it was good to catch up with the characters from the previous books. The teenage angst with both Jess and Lucy was well done; the bemusement and frustration of the two adults saw me nodding my head on occasion. Definitely an enjoyable, readable series, one I recommend highly.

With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sharon.
986 reviews193 followers
August 25, 2021
The Life She Imagines is the fifth book in the Granite Springs series. Once again, Australian author Maggie Christensen has written an interesting book. As I have mentioned before in my previous reviews I’ve enjoyed this series including this book.

Maggie Christensen has a unique way of writing about mature characters, which I especially enjoyed all through this series. And yes, you guessed it I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Helen.
2,222 reviews12 followers
November 24, 2020
I do love my visits to Granite Springs, the people are so friendly and very easy to become friends with and Maggie Christensen writes older heroes and heroines so well, you are never too old to find love and happiness. This time we get to see Marie find her love, and Marie has become a friend and it was so good to see her find it, I do hope that you pick this one up and enjoy a few hours of pleasure and smiles.

Marie has been in Granite Springs her whole life, she works in the local café with her former partner Frank who really is now one of her best friends. Life changes for Marie when her sister and niece come to visit and she is now parenting for her fifteen year old niece Lucy, this is not what she imagined her life would be. Lucy is taking it hard as is Marie and grieving can be very hard, but life must go on and getting Lucy settled into her new school when all she wants is to be back in Canberra is not easy.

Drew Hamilton is recently divorced and has now become a single parent to his fifteen year old daughter Jess, who is not happy about moving from Melbourne to this quiet town, but Drew has taken up the role of school principal at Granite Springs High. Drew is getting settled and coping with Jess and finding his way around the town and making some new friends as well, finding love was not what he had in mind, but when it happens he looks to the future.

Marie and Drew meet after an incident the girls become involved in and although tempers flare there is also a huge spark between them, it is not long before they are becoming friends and that spark is getting bigger, neither of them were looking for love but it found them, and of course love doesn’t always run smoothly and Marie is soon left with making choices about her future and that involves Lucy as well. Can they become a family of four and live happily ever after?

Another fabulous story, thank you so much Maggie Christensen for my copy to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, it is filled emotions and a story that I would highly recommend.
Profile Image for Craig / Phil.
1,302 reviews50 followers
October 8, 2020
An effortless gentle story you can easily read in one sitting.
Marie Cunningham has been co-running The Bean Sprout Cafe with her ex partner for many decades and lives a normal busy life.
But when she suddenly has to care for her teenage niece her life falls into disharmony.
Drew Hamilton has accepted a position as high school principal in the town of Granite Springs arriving with his teenage headstrong daughter and he finds all he does is battle with her.
A circumstance with the two girls brings Marie and Drew together and while they slowly turn from foes to lovers, an unexpected mess from the past comes back to cause chaos in their newly formed relationship.
Book five brings all the warm, tender and delightful emotions while reading this cozy novel.
Again it’s a delight to catch up with old friends whilst seeing how the characters deal with the good the bad and the ugly situations and issues right before your eyes.
Real life moments in every sentence bursting from the pages, it feels like actual people you would know in your everyday life.
Another charming read for fans of this series and to add to growing pile of mature age fiction of second chance love.
Profile Image for Anne.
1,810 reviews
September 2, 2020
Marie’s been there, quietly in the background, in all the Granite Springs books, running the Bean Sprout Café with her ex-partner Frank – but the focus has always been on other characters, meeting up, drinking the excellent coffee, eating her flapjacks. This book brings her to centre stage – at a point when she’s really wondering whether it’s time to change her life a little. But then change is rather forced on her, and not in a way she ever imagined, when she finds herself caring for teenage niece Lucy.

Drew’s a rather more recent arrival in the country town – the principal at the High School – and while he might be adept at dealing with large numbers of hormonal teens on a daily basis, his daughter Jess is proving more of a challenge. Although he’s moved out of Canberra for the best of reasons, she’s really struggling to settle – until she and Lucy become close friends. And that brings Drew and Marie together – at first because of their parenting responsibilities, but then the attraction between them begins to slowly grow.

As always, this is a relationship-based story, and perhaps has a little less drama than some of the other books – well, until Lucy’s father appears on the scene. But I really enjoyed the twists and turns of Marie’s story – Frank, although they’re no longer together, has been central to her life for a very long time, and that adds an intriguing layer to the developing mature romance and the usual challenges that can bring. And Frank’s such a lovely man – you can feel every moment of Marie’s dilemma, her reluctance to give up on the support and loving care he’s always provided, and the difficulties of moving forward into a different life.

Do you know, I’d never realised that Granite Springs was only a couple of hours away from Canberra – that widens the canvas of the book a little from time to time. But the community of Granite Springs provides the main setting – with plenty of interaction with the characters who became friends through the earlier books. As always, it’s wonderfully drawn – and there are those lovely touches of the exotic for the curious English reader, with Marie waking to the sound of arguing kookaburras and all those other glimpses of nature.

This book is entirely readable as a standalone – although I’ll admit I aways particularly enjoy that recognition of the familiar setting, and the glimpses of other “friends” in a supporting role. And, as always, I’d really recommend this book to readers of a certain age – while Marie’s personal challenges aren’t necessarily too familiar, her problems and challenges are very easy to identify with. And I particularly liked the way that the chemistry between Marie and Drew grew slowly – almost absent at first, and Marie’s really not looking for a new partner, but it develops in a way that’s very real indeed.

I love this series – and this is yet another excellent story, real life on every page, with such strongly drawn characters, and so beautifully written. Have you tried any of the books in this series yet? If not, I really recommend you give one a try – you might just enjoy Maggie Christensen’s writing as much as I always do.
Profile Image for Janet Graham.
2,130 reviews3 followers
August 17, 2020
Life Has a Way of Changing Your Plans
This book of women's fiction has more romance than other books in the series. Our heroine is dealing with major life drama as she tries to choose which path of life to take. The story is spot-on in characterizing the two fifteen-year-old girls. Because this book is part of a series, it features characters we have met in other books. This book stands alone with no effort. I received this ARC book for free from the author and this is my honest review.
August 7, 2020
Maggie Christensen has done it again, I really enjoyed this easy read book. The story initially centres around Marie and Frank and the Bean Sprout Cafe in Granite Springs. Thirty years later they are more like brother and sister running their cafe, good friends who rarely argue. Fate intervenes and life changes for Marie when her sister dies suddenly and she finds herself a guardian for her young niece.

The story has twists and turns and I found it very difficult to put down. If you have enjoyed Maggie’s other books in the series you will love this one
85 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2020
Make up your mind, Marie!

I enjoyed this book more for its beautiful country setting and descriptions of the Australian countryside and my own imaginings of what life in such a beautiful rural setting would be like. But for me, this book wasn’t much of a romance. Marie was too wish-washy, not being able to make up her mind whether she wanted her ex-'husband' back in her life or whether she would follow the trail her hormones led her on with the new school principal, Drew Hamilton.

It is a long way into the book before the two main character's meet and they continue to see each other only by virtue of the fact that their teenage charges, Jess, Drew's daughter, and Lucy, Marie's niece become very close friends after gravitating together as the two new girls at school.

Frank, Marie's ex—a lovely man—is very much still on the scene as they work together running the café that has been in Frank's family for generations and which they ran as husband and wife, is very ambivalent about their breakup and he decides he wants them to get back together. And unfortunately Marie spends the majority of the time she is supposed to be getting to know Drew wondering if she should get back with Frank!

To me, her love is very wish washy. If I were Drew, I would be worried that Frank is so close and so easily accessible and still owns some of Marie's heart and loyalties.

A 3 star romance. 🌟🌟🌟

2,892 reviews20 followers
August 8, 2020
🌄 Families ruined and reconfigured: real👍👍

I enjoyed this book immensely and powered through it in one day. The characters are people you'd like as neighbors, their problems very real.

Author Maggie Christensen knows how to weave a good yarn out of events that all too frequently occur in average lives like death, divorce, desertion and teen boundary testing. This series features strong mature women and the men and children they nurture in a provincial hub town in New South Wales with an emphasis on second chances at love later in life.

Marie, the lead in the story, is childless after a long-term relationship peters out until a tragedy brings her niece into her care. Both are stricken with grief and find a strong connection with recently-divorced father Drew and his teen daughter who haven't quite found their niche in Granite Springs social life. Their story features lots of bumps and worries as both adults ease their way into handling the whims and moods of their emotional teens.

It's a strong plot filled with hard-working, likable characters and sweet, unanticipated new opportunities for romance. What a nice addition to the series!😊
Profile Image for Anne Rightler.
1,698 reviews13 followers
August 31, 2020
Having read several of Maggie Christensen's books, I knew that I would be in for a heart-tugging story about families with realistic and relatable struggles. Sure enough! In The Life She Imagines, the fifth book in the Granite Springs series, I enjoyed reading about Marie and Drew as they journey their way to a loving relationship despite the life issues they have to deal with. Past and ongoing relationships, sudden death, unexpected raising of teenagers whose moods change by the day, all work together to bring a story of love the second time around. Young Marie imagined she'd have a life of being a wife and mother but it never happened. Now that life has brought some twists and turns, how will Marie handle the challenges? The author gives readers older, more mature characters who find that a second chance does come around and the importance of being willing to take a another chance on love.
I received a complimentary copy of the book and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
762 reviews
August 14, 2020
In this fifth book of the Granite Springs series, we learn Marie's story, the co-owner of the Bean Sprout Cafe with her ex, Frank. They have a very unusual and special relationship, one in which she can always count on him for support. When a family crisis occurs, Marie suddenly finds herself guardian of her fifteen year old niece, and Frank is right there with her.

The new principal of the high school, Drew, has recently become a single parent to his teenage daughter. When the two girls become best friends, the grownups are brought together.

There are many trials and tribulations throughout this story, but this author tackles these issues with love, understanding, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Maggie does a wonderful job of bringing back all the couples we have come to know from the former books. With all their support, maybe Marie, Drew, and their girls can make a new home together! The Life She Imagines is another great mature love story to be enjoyed by all!
404 reviews22 followers
August 15, 2020
Maggie Christensen has written another enthralling book about a second chance at love. Marie still works at the cafe with her ex partner Frank but her life is thrown into turmoil with the death of her sister Dee. Marie assumes caring for Dee's daughter Lucy who strikes up a friendship with Jess, daughter of Drew, the Principal of Granite Springs High School.
The author is an expert at weaving complexities into relationships and I found myself drawn into life in Granite Springs , and I enjoyed meeting up with other characters in the town which we had met in earlier books in the series. Christensen writes with compassion and empathy enabling the reader to feel the issues surrounding relationships between adults as well as sympathetically dealing with dramas unfolding with teenagers.
A great read and I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a family saga .
Thanks Maggie Christensen for an e copy to read and review

151 reviews
August 17, 2020
I received an ARC of The Life She Imagines from the author, Maggie Christensen. The Life She Imagines is the fifth book in the Granite Springs series. Granite Springs is a small town in Australia.
It is the story of Marie who is amicably divorced from her first husband. Although she loves Ted, she realized she is no longer in love with him. Together they run The Bean Sprout Cafe together in Granite Springs. Marie's sister Dee and her daughter Lucy come to visit. Dee meets an unexpected tragic death leaving teen-aged Lucy in the care of Marie. Through Lucy, Marie meets Drew, the father of Lucy's friend, Jess. Marie starts to realize that the rest of her life may not be so settled yet. Maggie Christensen has written several books for more mature women with varying life issues. I loved this book! I like that the book is set in Australia so some of the words are different but it is a nice change in setting.
Profile Image for Lena West.
Author 14 books3 followers
August 5, 2020
I've been following the Granite Springs series from book 1 and it was lovely meeting up with old friends and learning Marie's story in THE LIFE SHE IMAGINES. Maggie creates absolutely true to life characters who are dealing with the same family crises we are all dealing with as we grow older. Seeing how they tackle whatever issues she throws at them allows us to take another look at our own lives, and see hope where we've been feeling overwhelmed. We are reminded that life goes on, and can be very good indeed. That problems have solutions. Love isn't over just because one relationship may be.
Maggie's books all leave me buoyed up with enthusiasm for the future, and THE LIFE SHE IMAGINES is no exception. If you like second chance romances and stories with mature protagonists, you can't go past Maggie Christensen's Granite Springs series.
181 reviews
August 21, 2020
This is a delightful series about not only second chances but also about family life. There are many lessons to be learned in this uplifting book about people of all ages. The series is about second chances in love for the not so young however it is also about life itself and surviving the complications that are bound to occur. It's about friendship and love. Relatable characters that draw you in to wish them happiness. The town described is interesting as well including hobby farms, regular homes, lofts above work places and again, many different stories. Definitely a 'Cozy' read that is quite satisfying.
110 reviews
August 2, 2020
Single parents, teenagers, moving and other twists make this middle age romance of Maria and Drew one you won’t be able to put down.
2 reviews
October 25, 2020

Maggie Christensen has written entirely believable characters and woven their stories into all the others. A fun read. I look forward to more.
8 reviews
September 13, 2020
Excellent book!

It was nice to be back in Granite Springs. The new characters seem to fit right in with their new friends.
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

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