I gave Season of Second Chances 4* out of 5*,
I was given a copy of Season of Second Chances, as a member of Rosie Amber’s reviewing team.
Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.
Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a very real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the children adapt to life in a small rural community? Can she live up to the doctor her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?
Season of Second Chances is Grace’s story. It’s also the story of a community that chooses the title “Young Doctor Sullivan” for her before she even arrives. It’s the story of Des, who served the villagers all his life and now feels a failure for developing Parkinson’s disease. And it’s the story of struggling teens, an intimidating receptionist, a handsome American novelist escaping his past, and a dog called Benji who needs a fresh start of his own.
I haven’t read anything from Aimee Alexander before but, as I love any story about the machinations and intricacies of families, when I saw Season of Second Chances on the #RBRT reading list, I decided to choose this book. It’s described as a novel about, ‘family, love and learning to be kind to yourself…A heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.’
In a way it’s a predictable plot. But it’s so well written I don’t think that matters too much. And with a thoroughly rounded protagonist in Grace Sullivan, it’s easy to believe in her; to start cheering for her straight away in her secret quest to escape her life with an abusive husband. She is desperate to find her roots again in the village of Killrowan, in West Cork; where she grew up with her parents. But, having been away for years, and taking her father’s place in the GP practice following his retirement, she is initially treated with suspicion by most of his patients. So she is lucky to rediscover the support of two old friends.
In addition to the antipathy of some of the villagers she has two teenage children who have problems of their own; Jack, who utterly resents the move, and her daughter, Holly, who, though glad to have escaped from their father, is emotionally damaged. But both are protective of their mother.
I also liked the parallel plot of the change in Des, Grace’s father. Having retired and in poor health, her return with her family brings him out of his chosen isolation and gives him hope for the future.
I try not to give too much information about story-lines so I’ll leave it there.
Both the main characters and the minor supporting ones are well drawn, with dialogue that immediately identifies them and I could easily picture each one as they took their part in the story.
The settings are brilliantly described and give a good sense of place. I especially liked the sense of peace that is shown through Grace when she is by the sea. There are excellent descriptions here.
There is also a lovely, almost cameo piece, of a dog, Benji, coming into their lives.
Of necessity, in a story of domestic abuse, there are themes of cruelty, fear, lies, self-hatred and loneliness. But in Season of Second Chances, there is also hope, friendship and love. These are all well balanced throughout the book.
As I’ve said, it is a predictable plot in many ways but I loved the author’s style of writing. And, tantalisingly, there are also a couple of loose ends. These left me to suspect that there would be a sequel to Season of Second Chances.As, indee, the author states in the end notes.
I would recommend Season of Second Chances to any reader who enjoys a good story in which to escape.