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The Richest Season    by Maryann McFadden order for
Richest Season
by Maryann McFadden
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Joanna Harrison has been married for twenty-five years. She feels she is a neglected corporate wife, as her husband Paul is married to his job. There have been many moves over the years, different cities, houses, and groups of friends. Now they are about to move again and Joanna is dreading it. Their two children are grown and living their own lives and Joanna feels empty. One morning while out for her daily walk she comes to a decision that will affect the whole family. She packs a few things and drives to Pawley's Island, South Carolina.

Joanna had only been to the island once before but is drawn back to the peacefulness she remembered. Realizing she will need money and a place to live, she answers an ad for a live-in companion to Grace Finneli, a widow who lives alone on the ocean front. Joanna agrees to Grace's demand that she stay for six months and soon falls into a routine of cooking and running errands. She loves the friendly people and laid back lifestyle of the island. She becomes involved with a turtle protection group as a volunteer and is attracted to Hank who runs the organization. To keep busy she also writes columns for the local paper. Though she feels she is gaining independence, her family pulls at her heart strings.

Paul is struggling at home on his own. He has lost his job, and is now doing landscaping and carpentry work for friends and neighbours. He finds the physical work freeing and reconnects with childhood memories of learning at his father's side. Joanna agrees to come home for Christmas and cannot believe the transformation that has taken place in Paul's life. Paul begs her to stay but she must honour her agreement with Grace.

Joanna learns that Grace is ill and that she has come to Pawley's Island to live out her life alone by the sea. She does not want her children to know of her illness. Readers get to know two women - one fighting for her life, the other surrendering to life - and Paul, coming to terms with the changes in his. Each is on a journey of discovery. The Richest Season, a story of acceptance and love, is a great debut novel from McFadden and I look forward to reading her next book.

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