After more than a dozen moves in twenty-five years of marriage, Joanna Harrison is lonely and tired of being a corporate wife. Her children are grown and gone, her husband is more married to his job than to her, and now they're about to pack up once more. Panicked at the thought of having to start all over again, Joanna commits the first irresponsible act of her life. She runs away to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a place she's been to just once.
She finds a job as a live-in companion to Grace Finelli, a widow who has come to the island to fulfill a girlhood dream. Together the two women embark on the most difficult journey of their lives: Joanna struggling for independence, roots, and a future of her own, as her family tugs at her from afar; and Grace, choosing to live the remainder of her life for herself alone, knowing she may never see her children again.
Entwined is Paul Harrison's story as he loses his wife, his job, and everything that defines him as a man. He takes off on his own journey out west, searching for the answers to all that has gone wrong in his life. One thing remains constant: He wants his wife back.
Joanna, however, is moving farther away from her old life as she joins a group dedicated to rescuing endangered loggerhead turtles, led by a charismatic fisherman unlike anyone she's ever met.
Joanna is like many women who find themselves looking towards a life that seems dedicated to others. She has spent her early life raising children and taking care of a family, but now with her children grown and a career-obsessed husband, she realizes that she needs to find out who she is as a person.
Grace is an older women who has lived out her life as she wanted. Now facing her imminent death she chooses to do it without her family’s help or knowledge. Instead she rents a house and hires Joanna as a companion and housekeeper.
Paul, estranged husband to Joanna, has been married more to his job than his family. However, shortly after losing his wife, he also loses his job. Left with nothing Paul must try to figure out how to live his new life, and discover the person he is behind the illusion of a job title.
The Richest Season brings together the stories of these three characters to tell a bittersweet, but ultimately wise tale. Traditionally, a coming of age story would focus on people dealing with adolescence, but here we find another sort. Fully grown adults, who find their lives have nothing to do with them personally. Perhaps harder than any teenager’s experience, is Joanna’s, as she struggles to come to terms with the absence of self in her former life as wife and mother. Paul must dig deep into himself in order to see beneath the business-suited-costume he’s been living behind. And Grace whose own secrets and stories help to put things into focus, even as she turns away from the familiar.
I hadn’t expected The Richest Season to be quite this developed, instead I expected more of a quick beach-read. This is a lovely novel that really explores the various ways in which people present themselves without any thought to their own needs and desires. All three main characters were extremely well-developed and although they may fit into certain literary type-casts, they have enough individuality to make them unique.
Sometimes you have to leave your life to find yourself again…
The above line comes from the inside cover of The Richest Season. Such a short statement, but it carries power within the idea it presents. And this novel is the perfect companion to such a beautiful and mind-opening thought.
About The Author
Maryann McFadden has been a successful realtor for the past twenty years, but she always wanted to be a novelist. The Richest Season began as her thesis project when she returned to school for a Master’s degree. She lives in Hackettstown, New Jersey, where she is at work on her next novel.
Published by Hyperion Books
© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.