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Off Season    by Anne Rivers Siddons order for
Off Season
by Anne Rivers Siddons
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Cam and Lilly McCall were happily married, and parents to two grown daughters. They seemed to have it all - great jobs, a beautiful home, good friends. One day while Cam was away at their cottage, he died suddenly and Lilly's life went into a downward spiral. At fifty-three Lilly has sunk into a depression. Cam, the love of her life, is gone forever. She makes a decision to take Cam's ashes to the family cottage in Edgewater, Maine, for his final resting place. Her daughters, however, disagree, and cannot understand why Lilly would want to go there alone in the off season.

Arriving at the cottage, and getting settled in, Lilly has plenty of time to think about her life. Surrounded by familiar furniture and old pictures, the past comes back to Lilly, taking her to the summer of 1962 when she was a happy, carefree girl of eleven. She loved the summer at the cottage with her brother and parents. The got to escape the sweltering heat of Washington, D.C., where her father George was a professor. Liz, her mother, was an artist and had a small studio at the cottage if she had the desire to be alone and create. Lilly fell in love that summer with Jon Lowell, an older boy of thirteen. The Constable cottage was the center of the social scene for the neigbours and Lilly ruled her universe. Peaches Davenport, a young girl Lilly's age, resented Lilly's relationship with Jon and her happy home life with her parents. She created problems for Lilly and Jon by lying to the adults and Jon's young life ended in tragedy.

Lilly remembers the day she was told of her mother's illness. Her parents tried to present a brave front but fate had other plans and Lilly was left alone with her father in her young teenage years. Her brother rebelled and left home, but Lilly continued on in school, and took care of her father at home. George became protective of Lilly and did not want her dating, but the day she met Cam her life changed. With the help of her Aunt Tatty, Lilly showed her father that she needed her own life and so did he. Cam showed great respect for Lilly and her father and soon a marriage was planned. They began a life together and had two daughters. Lilly was so trusting; could it be possible she did not see what was there all along?

Anne Rivers Siddons has created a beautiful story of life, love, and loss. She takes us back in time to Lilly's childhood where we also experience Lilly's joys and her sadness. You will laugh and cry as Lilly's life unfolds. Though I was disappointed in the complex ending, don't let this keep you from reading the great Off Season.

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