Review

Second Time Around

by Marcia Willett

Isobel is broken-hearted. After leaving her devoted husband
Simon for the passion of an affair with Mike, she realizes that
what she really wants is her old life with her loving husband. Mike
has left her, but she doesn't care. She yearns for Simon. It
doesn't help that her daughter, Helen, will have nothing to do with
her. As she hopes for reconciliation, she finds a new home at the
English shore. Elderly Mathilda Rainbird lives in a big rambling
home in a secluded cove. In exchange for Isobel's housekeeping and
cooking, Isobel can live in the cottage on the property and use
Mathilda's car for transportation. Isobel ekes out the meagerest of
livings by working part-time at a bookstore, so she is more than
grateful for the opportunity.

It doesn't take much time for Isobel to feel extremely close to
Mathilda, teasing the older woman about her eccentric ways and
playing Scrabble with her by the fire. The two share meals, over
which Isobel confides in Mathilda about the mistakes she has made
in her life. Mathilda is a good sounding board for Isobel's
troubles. However, the older woman is less forthcoming about her
own life. She doesn't discuss her life's one unrequited romantic
passion, doesn't reveal that she recently has been diagnosed with
terminal cancer, and certainly doesn't discuss her plan to deal
with her illness.

After Mathilda dies, Isobel is devastated and guilt-stricken,
believing that she should have realized her friend was ill and that
she should have been able to take some kind of steps to stave off
the inevitable. Meanwhile, Mathilda's lawyer reveals that Mathilda
has left her home to three distant cousins, all strangers to her
and to each other. She has also made provisions that no matter what
happens to her house, Isobel is allowed to remain in the cottage
rent-free.

Young Tessa Rainbird is one of the cousins inheriting Mathilda's
house. An orphan who lives with an uncaring aunt, she spends her
time house-sitting other people's homes and taking care of their
dogs while wishing that her long-time friend Sebastian will someday
return her one-sided adoration. Tessa is flabbergasted to learn of
her windfall. How will this work into her life? One look at
Mathilda's home and the beauty of the cove is enough to make her
fall in love with the place. But she certainly doesn't have the
money to buy out the other two owners.

When Tessa meets her cousin Will, she feels reassured. She
instantly feels the kinship of family with the widowed older man,
who has put his own house up for sale and plans to live in
Mathilda's home. The two can share the house comfortably, they
believe. But they can't help wondering and worrying about Beatrice,
the third cousin. Beatrice is a newly retired school matron living
with an old friend. Unfortunately, she doesn't appear to have any
interest in sharing Mathilda's house with her two cousins. Will
they have to sell?

Author Marcia Willett has a gift for fleshing out characters
until the reader cares deeply about each one. The very real people
of SECOND TIME AROUND lead fairly ordinary lives that are
illuminated by their relationships and
situations, transforming their stories into tales that
are emotionally moving and easy to relate to. This is the best kind
of women's fiction, combining elements of family relationships,
romance, mystery and coming of age (at any stage of life), while
avoiding predictable outcomes. Happily for new fans (I predict
there will be many), it appears that Willett is a prolific
storyteller with many books published and more upcoming.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 23, 2011

Second Time Around
by Marcia Willett

  • Publication Date: December 9, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312306660
  • ISBN-13: 9780312306663